My cousin Ashley Simpson made a New Years list this week, sadly, as part of a story about women who have disappeared from the North Okanagan Shuswap in British Columbia. The popular Castanet website for Vernon gave the details. Here is an abridged version.
It's been almost a year since anyone has seen Caitlyn Potts.
Potts was last seen on Feb. 22, and made contact with friends on social media Feb. 26, but has not been heard from since.
The 27-year-old First Nations woman was reported missing March 1.
Two months later, another North Okanagan woman went missing.
Ashley Simpson, 31, was last heard from on April 27 and then on July 22, Deanna Mildred Wertz, 46, was also reported missing.
Potts and Wertz were from the Enderby area, while Simpson was living in the Salmon Arm area.
Police said on the morning of July 19, Wertz went for a walk somewhere in the wooded area near her residence on Yankee Flats Road (the same area where Ashley disappeared) and has not been seen since. Wertz was an avid hiker and was known to go on lengthy hikes.
Initially, the disappearance of Potts and Simpson were not treated as suspicious by North Okanagan RCMP, but as time dragged on with no signs of the women, the Southeast District Major Crimes Unit took over both cases.
“Ashley’s typical communication with friends and family has ceased without explanation and investigators suspect that Ashley’s disappearance may very well be the result of foul play,” said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk in May when the SED took over the investigation.
Upon her disappearance, Simpson's family launched a social media campaign with pictures of her and a plea for any information.
Members of her family also travelled from Ontario to Salmon Arm where they handed out flyers.
Simpson is approximately 5-feet-5-inches tall, 119 pounds with brown eyes and hair.
Her aunt, Amanda Haveman, said Simpson also has the word 'Gypsy' tattooed on her left arm and a hummingbird and strawberries on her right arm.
In early June, members of the Splatsin First Nation held a day-long search for Potts.
“Somebody has seen something and somebody can help,” said Charlene Belleau, organizer and chief of the Esketemc First Nation.
On the day of the search, Potts' mother, Priscilla said she was “really grateful for the support.”
"Caitlyn's not even from this province but she's in our territory and (the community is) here to help," said Splatsin First Nation Chief Wayne Christian on the day of the search. "It's really important to show that we do care and something's got to be done."
Potts is described as approximately 5-feet-3-inches tall, 150 pounds with brown eyes and black hair.
Police said the case is still being actively investigated.