The N.W.T.'s Chief Coroner says there is enough evidence to confirm definitively that Atsumi Yoshikubo, the Japanese tourist who went missing in Yellowknife nearly two and a half years ago, died in the bush.
Since RCMP first reported Yoshikubo missing in October 2014, many people across the country — and around the world to Japan — have wondered exactly what happened during those long, winter months when searchers didn't find a trace.
Oct. 29, 2014 | Atsumi Yoshikubo, Japanese tourist, still missing in Yellowknife
Only nine days after the search began, RCMP called it off. They believed Yoshikubo was dead and she had come to Yellowknife "to become a missing person."
But that wasn't enough for some Yellowknife residents who thought there was more to it.
Nov. 5, 2014 | Yellowknife residents question RCMP's decision to drop search
A year and half later, when DNA results confirmed bone fragments found by a hiker in the bush in Yellowknife were from Yoshikubo's body, RCMP still did not state definitively that she had died.
But now, Cathy Menard, the territory's chief coroner, says she can confirm that fact for sure; she says based on the bone fragments found — and the necessary DNA results confirming they were Yoshikubo's — the tourist died in the woods outside Yellowknife.
"Yes, I think we can," Menard said, after being asked if she thought there was enough evidence to confirm Yoshikubo's death.
"We had enough that we felt through the forensic evidence and the DNA that... it was Atsumi Yoshikubo" and that she had died, Menard said.
Yoshikubo 'wanted to be buried here'
Because investigators found only bone fragments, they couldn't determine exactly what caused Yoshikubo's death.
They did find two notes left by Yoshikubo: one, an apparent suicide note for friends and family in Japan; the other, found by searchers with her possessions in the bush in Yellowknife.
- Nov. 6, 2014 | Atsumi Yoshikubo wrote a suicide note before leaving Japan
Sept. 2, 2015 | Atsumi Yoshikubo's belongings found with human remains near Yellowknife
"It included... how much she loved the North, how much she loved Yellowknife, how much she loved the aurora," Menard said. "She expressed her wishes about wanting to be buried here."
Menard says that note was translated and given to Yoshikubo's family back in Japan.
She says it was up to them to follow through with her wishes, and ultimately arrange for the interment of Yoshikubo's remains at Yellowknife's cemetery.