Wait and see, followed by wait and see.
In the wake of news that evidence regarding her missing daughter may have been overlooked, Cindy Simpson said she’ll be doing what she has done since she went missing.
“Right now it’s going to be a wait and see; that’s all the last four years has been. Just waiting every day.”
Ashley Simpson, the vivacious and well-loved daughter of Cindy and John Simpson, lived on Yankee Flats Road near Silver Creek. She was last seen on April 27, 2016.
Simpson, who lives with her family in Ontario, received information about her daughter recently from a woman who wishes to remain anonymous due to concerns for her safety.
Simpson learned that in May 2016, after Ashley went missing, the woman had driven up a logging road past the mill in Canoe. At the top, she saw women’s clothing, CDs and a piece of mail with Ashley’s name on it. She said she reported it to the RCMP but she doesn’t think anything was done because the belongings were still there a month later.
The woman said weeks after she reported it she saw a helicopter flying around in the area, but she wasn’t sure if it was related to her report.
Simpson said she understands a lot more about police process than she did before.
She understands mistakes were made when she first reported Ashley was missing, but in terms of potential evidence, she would like to see a specific protocol in place when such items are found.
Simpson wishes that the woman had contacted her family when she saw the belongings, or had taken a photo, but she also isn’t sure what she would have done in the same situation – whether she would have gone beyond reporting it to the RCMP.
“If in fact it is Ashley’s stuff, it would be very frustrating that four years later it’s come too late,” she said, pointing to all the anguish her family might have been saved.
On behalf of the RCMP, Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said, given that the investigation into Ashley Simpson’s disappearance remains active and ongoing, police aren’t able to comment on, or provide specific information regarding, evidence or tips.
“I can say more generally that when a tip is received in relation to any investigation, the tip is evaluated by investigators to determine what/if any investigative follow-up will be required. All tips are assessed on a case to case basis and there may be occasions when the tip may not assist in advancing the investigation further, as the information provided by the tipster has previously been verified or discounted, through other means.”
He urged anyone who finds physical evidence, regardless of whether it is linked to an ongoing investigation, to not touch it but to report it to local police.
Simpson is very appreciative of the public’s support and assistance, but agreed evidence must not be disturbed.
“That’s my biggest thing, if they go up there, if they see something, call the RCMP, take a picture, try not to disturb anything.”
She urged anyone who knows anything about any of the missing woman, to call the tip line or call an RCMP detachment. “This poor girl (who saw possible evidence) is afraid now and I understand. The more people that do it, the less they’ll be afraid. People have to start speaking up. It’s not only there, it’s all over. People are afraid to call.”
In the North Okanagan-Shuswap, Ashley was one of four women who went missing over the course of 19 months between February 2016 and September 2017.
Caitlyn Potts, Deanna Wertz and Nicole Bell are also missing.
The remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux from Vernon were found in October 2017 on the family farm of Curtis Sagmoen in Silver Creek during a police search. No charges have been laid in her death.
“There are so many families in my position,” Simpson says of missing women in Canada. “Some have been there 20 years or longer…”
Both she and John have had health struggles recently, with recovery taking longer than normal because of stress, she thinks.
“People don’t really understand the stress on you.”
“I wonder if they carry guilt,” she said of the perpetrators. “They can’t carry guilt… They’re all man enough to do it, but cowards when they come to admitting it.”
In their annual tradition, Simpson and her family celebrated Ashley’s birthday – what would have been her 37th – on Nov. 15.
They ate birthday cake and released balloons.
“It was a windstorm… My one granddaughter said, ‘the balloons are going to get to heaven tonight.’”