"I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW HOW GREAT A PERSON SHE IS, HOW BIG HER HEART IS"
SHUSWAP - A Shuswap woman who vanished two months ago is someone who would do anything for her kids and makes new friends wherever she goes, family and friends devastated by her disappearance say.
Nicole Bell, 32, of Malakwa, was last seen on Sept. 2 in Sicamous. A mother of three, Bell is described as an upbeat lover of the outdoors — always up for fishing or camping with the kids.
“She puts all her focus on her kids. She loves to do lots of things with them and watch them grow,” her best friend Nicholas Weal, 32, of Calgary, says.
Weal met Bell in Grade 3 and they stayed close ever since, even after Bell moved to Saskatchewan, and then to B.C. a few years ago.
“I’d be in touch with her every week. She’s always been there for me, and I was for her,” Weal says.
When he first heard she’d been reported missing, he held on to the idea that perhaps she had just gone away for a few days.
“As the time went on, and the weeks passed, it just was not like her to not contact myself, her family or her husband,” Weal says. “She’s a loving person. Everywhere she went she made friends. For something like this to happen or to think somebody did something to her… it’s been hard.”
The emotional stress and worry has only escalated with ongoing news reports of other missing women in the area, and a large-scale police search of a property in Silver Creek, about a 40 minute drive from Sicamous where she was last seen.
“Seeing her face all over the news on that farm thing… that was hard for a lot of us to see,” he says. “We’re looking for hope and we’re looking for answers. We’re trying to take things positive and not go into the negative.”
Police have never connected Bell’s disappearance to the police search on Salmon River Road where Vernon teen Traci Genereaux was found dead. Police have also never drawn any links between the five missing person cases, although media outlets at the local and national level have highlighted the cases heavily in recent weeks. Police have since completed their investigation at Salmon River Road and say they continue to investigate Genereaux’s death. No suspects have been named.
Bell’s husband declined a telephone interview for this story. Her mother also declined, but sent a written statement about her daughter.
“The day you were born, you had everybody's hearts. With your cute smile, little toes and fingers. Even from a baby girl into adulthood you can light up a room and make everyone welcome,” Jane Aubertin wrote.
Aubertin also shared several write-ups from friends and family who know Nicole. Those posts describe her as a wonderful mother, sister, wife and friend with an amazing personality and heart of gold.
“Nicole loved children,” one friend said. “When we were young she’d talk about getting married and planning her future. Her children were everything to her. Family was her life.”
Her sister Angela Dendekker recounts how Nicole protected her from bullies at school and was always just a call away when she needed her. Her favourite holidays were Halloween and birthdays, says her sister. Nicole’s 32nd birthday came and went on Nov. 2, a date her friends and family hoped she would be located by. Now, they say their Christmas wish is to have her home.
They are pleading with anyone who has information about Bell’s case to report it to police.
“She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s an aunt. She’s a wife. She’s my friend. If anybody has any information, please come forward,” Weal says. “I want people to know how great a person she is, how big her heart is. There are a lot of people that love her and miss her.”
Bell is described as Caucasian, 4'11" with blonde hair past her shoulders. She has a piercing in her nose and above her upper lip and occasionally wears glasses.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Nicole Bell is asked to contact the Sicamous RCMP at 250-836-2878 or Crime Stoppers if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477 quoting file number 2017-1401.
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