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'I believe she's alive': Mom offers $25K in search for missing girl
The worried mom of a missing Saskatchewan teenager has returned to B.C. to follow up on potential sightings of her daughter.
Paula Bali is in Burnaby for the second time since 17-year-old Mekayla disappeared without warning in April, which left her family desperate to ensure her safety.
"In my heart I believe she's alive. I don't believe she's safe. My gut tells me we need to look," Bali told CTV News on Wednesday while handing out fliers.
Bali was stationed outside Metrotown Mall, where tipsters have reported sightings of her daughter to the RCMP. Similar tips have taken the search for Mekayla to Alberta and Manitoba in the six months since she vanished.
"We really have no reason why she may be here, and she hasn't expressed an interest to be here, but we're willing to follow up on any bit of information we receive," her mother said.
Bali said the situation has taken a toll on the whole family, particularly Mekayla's younger brother and sister.
"They have struggled immensely with her disappearance," Bali said. "My daughter just had her eighth birthday and she said… 'My greatest birthday present would be for my sister to come home.'"
Through various fundraisers in their hometown of Yorkton, the family and their friends have managed to raise $25,000 to offer as a reward for information that helps them find Mekayla.
One potential lead is a man with a distinctive forearm tattoo of a fiery cross, who was spotted with the young girl at a bus depot on April 12, the day she went missing. Mounties have been hoping to identify and interview him for months.
"He was seen leaving the bus depot at the same time as Mekayla, and so we're hoping to speak with him and see if he knows anything," Insp. Jennifer Ebert of RCMP "F" Division said over the summer.
The RCMP said it has received more than 130 tips since Mekayla’s disappearance, but so far there have been no confirmed sightings.
Mekayla is described as white, about 5-2 tall and 115 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and she occasionally wears dark-rimmed glasses.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers. The family has also set up a Facebook page called Let’s Bring Mekayla Bali Home.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos