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Body of missing B.C. woman found 5 years later, boyfriend charged with murder: victim's family

A B.C. man has been charged with murder following the discovery of his girlfriend's body five years after she disappeared.

A family member told CTV News Monday that they'd been informed that investigators had found the remains of Ashley Marie Simpson, who was last seen in Vernon, B.C., in April 2016.

As a result of an investigation into the 32-year-old's death, Derek Lee Matthew Favell has been charged with second-degree murder.

Following the announcement from Simpson's family, the B.C. RCMP confirmed the charge, which according to court records is alleged to have taken place on April 27, 2016, in or near Salmon Arm, B.C.

According to those records, the 39-year-old is due to appear in court in Kamloops, B.C., later this week and remains in custody.

Mounties said Favell was identified as the primary suspect in the case at some point, but did not say how far into the investigation that was.

The RCMP did not provide many further details on the investigation, including where and when Simpson's remains were found.

Simpson's family told CTV News that Favell was her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.

According to her family, the victim and Favell had recently moved to Salmon Arm, and were unemployed and living in a trailer. They had been "fighting all day" when Simpson disappeared, her family said in an email.

Family and friends came to B.C. from Ontario to search for signs of the missing woman, and her father returned several times since.

While police classified her disappearance as foul play, there were no suspects in the case for some time, her family said.

In a statement, Simpson's father, John, said despite the classification, "we always had hope that, against all odds, Ashley would return to us."

"Unfortunately, there was no storybook ending."

John Simpson wrote that detectives from B.C. travelled to his family home in Ontario to pass along the news on Friday, and that they were emotional as well.

"All we could muster were tears of joy mixed with sadness," he said.

"As a father, I can tell you, no one can be prepared for the news that their daughter was found murdered and left to rot in the ground. But we are grateful that she will be returning to us so she can finally be laid to rest in a place where her family and friends can visit her."

Through the RCMP, her family members said the relief is the "best Christmas present" they could have received.

They said simply, "Ashley shined. She shined and she made the people around her shine."

About a year after her disappearance, her family had some hope they'd find out what happened to Simpson when police discovered human remains on a farm in the province's Southern Interior.

Families of several missing women from the area, which was between Vernon and Salmon Arm, braced for the news. 

The remains were identified as those of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux. A suspect has not been named in the case, and police have not said any other remains were found on the farm.

Other women who were reported missing at the time include Deanna Wertz, Nicole Bell and Caitlin Potts, none of whom have been found. Officials have not suggested the cases are connected in any way.

To families of other missing women, John Simpson said he hopes the update in his daughter's case brings them hope.

According to the most recent available data from the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, B.C. had the highest number of missing adults per capita last year, with 239 reports per 100,000 people. 

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