“IF YOU KNOW SOMETHING, PLEASE SAY SOMETHING”
VERNON - Traci Genereaux was just a kid.
That’s how Bob Zimmerman — a man with three daughters of his own who befriended and looked out for her — describes the Vernon teen.
Not much more than five feet tall with big blue eyes, Genereaux stood out to Zimmerman right away when he saw her on his way home from work roughly one year ago on the streets of downtown Vernon.
“I pulled over and told her you should go home, you probably have a mum and a dad wondering where their daughter is,” he says. “When she told me she was homeless, it broke my heart. She was so young.”
Genereaux, who would have turned 19 on Oct. 4, went missing at the end of May. Yesterday, Nov. 1, police revealed that her remains were discovered at a property on Salmon River Road in the North Okanagan, where officers have been conducting a massive search for nearly two weeks.
No charges have been laid in relation to Genereaux’s death, which is considered suspicious, says Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
A man who lived at the property where Genereaux’s remains were found is in custody on separate charges of threatening a sex trade worker on Aug. 28.
READ MORE: Man tied to site of human remains discovery in North Okanagan remains in custody
Genereaux was struggling with addiction and had also worked in the sex trade to support her habit. Her father has previously said she was doing better and trying to turn her life around.
Police are now urging anyone with information about Genereaux’s last movements to report it to a dedicated tip line being managed by South East District Major Crimes.
“At times people might have information and for whatever reason are reluctant to come forward. What we ask of people is to put themselves in the (place) of the family living the situation of the loss of a loved one, and put themselves outside of themselves, and to come forward if they have information,” Moskaluk says.
At this point, Genereaux’s last known sighting was in Vernon on May 29 when Zimmerman saw her get into a white service van near the bottle depot off 25 Avenue. Zimmerman didn’t recognize the driver or make out the company logo. He didn’t immediately think anything of it, but when he didn’t see or hear from Genereaux in the days that followed, he grew concerned and reached out to her parents. After learning they’d filed a missing persons report, he went to the RCMP detachment and told them about the white van.
Zimmerman secretly hoped Genereaux had left town and started over somewhere, he says.
“I always told her, there’s two things that would make me happy. One, you quitting drugs, and the other is you stopping working the street,” Zimmerman says.
He was crushed to learn last night that instead of starting a new life, she was gone forever.
“She was so young. She had her whole life ahead of her,” he says.
Zimmerman says he frequently brought the teen McDonald’s or gave her homemade soup and sandwiches, even letting her sleep in his own vehicle when she had nowhere else to go.
“I tried to help her,” he says. “I wish I could have done more.”
While police continue to investigate Genereaux’s suspicious death, an intensive search continues on Salmon River Road where her remains were found. Cpl. Moskaluk says that investigation is ongoing and there is no timeline as to when they will be finished. When asked if police have unearthed any other human remains on the property, Moskaluk would only reiterate that the remains found were identified as Genereaux’s.
“We’ve confirmed that the set of remains we found belonged to one individual, that being Traci Genereaux,” Moskaluk says.
Four other women are currently missing from the area, but police have not drawn any connections between them and the current search on Salmon River Road.
Temporary shelters, portable toilets, mobile command units and heavy equipment have been brought to the property where Genereaux’s remains were found. In addition to excavating parts of the property and looking through various trailers and outbuildings, police are also conducting a search in the creek that runs through the farm property.
Anyone who may have seen Traci or has any information is asked to call the police tipline at 1-877-987-8477.
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