NORTH OKANAGAN - The family of a young woman who vanished without a trace in the North Okanagan last spring say they know nothing more today than they did a year ago.
Ashley Simpson, 32, was last seen April 27, 2016 and reported missing on April 30. With the one-year anniversary of her disappearance come and gone, her mother Cindy Simpson says they still have no answers.
“It’s been one hell of a long year,” Simpson says from her home in St. Catharine’s, Ont. "There has been a black cloud hanging over our family."
Ashley Simpson was living with her boyfriend at a property on Yankee Flats Road, near Enderby, when she vanished.
Cindy says in all the months that have passed, they’ve learned little about what happened to Ashley. Police searched the property on Yankee Flats Road and said in May 2016 — the most recent press release — her disappearance “may very well be the result of foul play.”
While police have not publicly called it a murder, Cindy says that in May 2016 the Niagara Regional Police came to their home and informed them Ashley’s missing persons case was now being investigated as a homicide.
Police have not issued any news releases specifically stating the file is a homicide investigation.
When asked this week about the current status of the Simpson investigation, police would only say the investigation is ongoing and there are no updates.
“I can’t elaborate on what we think happened to her other then we believe foul play may have been involved,” Cpl. Dan Moskaluk of the South East District RCMP said in an email.
Police recently confirmed another missing persons case out of the North Okanagan, that of Caitlin Potts, is being investigated as a murder. A third woman, Deanna Wertz, also went missing from the area in 2016 but police do not believe foul play is involved in her disappearance. Police say there is no evidence to suggest any of the three cases are connected.
Feb. 22, 2016: Caitlin Potts last heard from.
March 1, 2016: Caitlin Potts reported missing
April 27, 2016: Ashley Simpson last seen
April 30, 2016: Ashley Simpson reported missing
July 19, 2016: Deanna Wertz last seen
July 22, 2016: Deanna Wertz reported missing
Cindy says the family doesn’t know much more today than they did a year ago about the circumstances of Ashley’s sudden disappearance. Every day they hope for news.
“The RCMP have told us nothing,” Cindy says. “I called and asked them certain things, but they can’t say, they can’t confirm one way or the other.”
She says the only information they are getting is unsubstantiated hearsay from people. Some of the information is coming from locals, but some is also coming from the site True Crime and Mysteries, run by an Idaho couple that investigates unsolved crimes and missing person cases.
“We don’t even know if it’s true because we haven’t heard it from the horse’s mouth.”
Cindy says her husband John, Ashley’s dad, will be travelling to the North Okanagan this summer to search for answers.
Despite the RCMP’s suspicion that Ashley may have met with foul play, Cindy can’t help but hold onto a shred of hope that her daughter might still be alive.
“My heart and my head have had this argument for a year... I do know if Ashley was able to come home, Ashley is very strong-willed, very strong. Ashley would find a way to come home if she was able to,” she says.
She’s asking anyone with unreported information about her daughter to contact the authorities.
“I’ve said it all along, somebody knows something but they aren’t saying anything,” Cindy says.
Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 250-545-7171 or leave a tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Ashley is described as Caucasian, 32 years old, 5’5” tall and 119 lbs. with brown hair and eyes.
— This story was updated at 1 p.m. May 3, 2017 to correct Ashley Simpson's age in the description at the bottom of the article.
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