Darrell Bellaart, Nanaimo Daily News
Human remains discovered by kayakers near a tiny Gulf Island Wednesday evening have sparked concern and speculation about a sad ending in the case of a missing Penelakut Island woman.
Although investigators have not made a positive identification of the remains, they have informed the family of missing 19-year-old Delores (Dee Dee) Brown of the discovery, just one day after revealing they believe the Brown disappearance was the result of foul play.
Nanaimo forensic unit officers joined Outer Gulf Islands, West Coast Marine and Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit officers to retrieve the remains in the waters just east of Norway Island.
Brown, missing since July 27, was last seen on the larger Penelakut Island, her nearby home. Family members have sequestered themselves and rescue volunteers had a cultural day of a healing Thursday, following the news from RCMP.
“You can definitely feel the tension in the air,” said Denise James, natural resources advisor to the band on an island of about 300 people, off Chemainus.
James said members of the family were “comforting each other until we see something further. They’re being hopeful, until something is confirmed otherwise.”
James said while she doesn’t know Brown well — the 19-year-old is younger than James’ youngest daughter — everyone knows each other on Penelakut.
She described Delores as “shy,” and said it’s unlikely a stranger would convince her to put her herself at risk of harm.
“In knowing her, and seeing her with her sisters and brothers, I don’t think she would willingly go off with somebody. She would want at least one sibling with her,” James said.
The search for Brown started July 29, when she was first reported missing.
“Brown has never gone missing before, which raised the concern of family, friends and police ” Island District RCMP spokesman Cpl. Darren Lagan said Wednesday.
Police were working Thursday with the BC Coroners Service to identify the remains and establish cause of death and how the person got there.
Brown is described as: First Nations, 19 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing approximately 120 pounds.
Tips can be made to the Ladysmith RCMP at 250-245-2215 or Crime stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.