On July 22, the family of Deana Mildred Wertz reported her missing from her home on Yankee Flats Road, which is part of the community of Salmon Arm, B.C.
Deana was last seen in the early morning of July 19, 2016.
She lived not far from my cousin Ashley Simpson who vanished three months earlier. A lot of people are asking: is there a predator on the loose in that small community? Is it just a coincidence that two women went missing from that same rural road?
There are differences in both cases. Ashley is a young (33-year-old) Caucasian woman from Ontario. Deana is described as First Nations. She is middle aged (46-years-old).
But that is where the difference ends.
It is a frightening coincidence that has re-opened the wound for the Simpson family. They still hold out hope that Ashley has simply lost her way, but every time one of these police alerts pops up, their hope dims.
If Ashley had not disappeared on that spring day, I would not have known about Deana or paid much attention to the plight of the missing and murdered women of British Columbia. I am ashamed to say that. Like many people, I have become desensitized to this kind of violence. There's too much of it; after a while we stop taking it in.
But the anguish experienced by Ashley's family -- cousins I had never met -- have made this personal for me. Over the last three months, I got to know Ashley from videos, Facebook posts and photographs. Her plight has forced me to examine my own prejudices and assumptions about women who go missing.
Ashley is a hard-working, well loved woman, a free spirit who has touched many lives with her sense of humor. She is missed, and must be found.
Deana, I'm sure is just the same. She is a mother, a friend, a vibrant person in her own right.
The families deserve to know what has happened to them.
For more information about Deana, or Ashley please visit the B.C. RCMP page. The report is posted below.
If you live in Salmon Arm, pay attention, get involved, report anything suspicious.
Remember, it could be your daughter, your mother or your sister.
Female Lives Matter.
On July 22, 2016, 46 yr old Deana Mildred Wertz was reported as missing to the Enderby RCMP. It was reported that Deana was last seen in the early morning of July 19, 2016 at her residence on Yankee Flats Road.
Deana Mildred Wertz description: as First Nations, 5'2”, dark, shoulder-length hair, brown eyes and last seen wearing a grey T-shirt and grey cut-off sweat pants.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Deana Mildred Wertz is urged to contact their local police, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). Media Release: http://bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/