Missing North Van woman found at home, declared dead
Published Monday, September 9, 2019 8:49AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, September 9, 2019 6:51PM PDT
A North Vancouver woman was found dead in her home two days after a missing person report was filed.
The report was filed last Tuesday, after a welfare check was performed at a home in the city, B.C.'s police watchdog says.
The RCMP told the Independent Investigations Office that members attended her home on Sept. 3, went inside to look for her. They did not find her in the home, they said.
The next day, Mounties issued an advisory to media about her disappearance.
Elizabeth Joanna Napierala was last seen at her residence Sept. 2, the RCMP said in a statement published Wednesday.
In the missing person report, the RCMP said she suffered from medical conditions that leave her vulnerable when outside, and that she was prone to falling down.
Mounties notified the public of her disappearance on Sept. 4, asking anyone who saw the woman to call 911.
With her whereabouts unknown, members of North Shore Rescue searched the area using a helicopter equipped with infrared radar. Their efforts included nearby parks and the area surrounding the Capilano River.
Napierala was found the day after the news release about her disappearance was published.
The RCMP told the IIO that officers went back to her home on Sept. 5, and found the 45-year-old dead inside.
The IIO is investigating what role, if any, police action or inaction played in her death. The civilian oversight agency is called in for any officer-involved incidents resulting in death or serious harm, regardless of if there are any allegations of wrongdoing.
Mounties would not provide comment to CTV News as the matter is before the IIO.
In this case, the IIO was called because RCMP had been called when she was missing, and had made efforts to find her.
"When they receive information about an individual who might need assistance, they have a duty to do what's reasonable to attempt to find that person and obtain assistance for them," the IIO's Ron MacDonald said.
"In this case, there's no specific allegation of wrongdoing by the RCMP, but the IIO is here to look at all the actions that the police took and then determine whether those actions were or were not appropriate."
Part of the investigation will include how thoroughly Napierala's home was searched during the welfare check before she was declared missing.
It is not known whether she was in the residence the whole time, or had left then returned before her body was found. Police records and witnesses will help track the steps taken by officers.
She lived in a gated complex on Fullerton Avenue that is monitored by security staff.
Napierala's mother told CTV News she'd lived alone, and had no partner or children. She said she has many questions about how this could happen, and realizes it could take weeks or even months to get answers.
MacDonald said the IIO's involvement in the case is not that dissimilar to its investigation in the case of a Langley, B.C. teen who died earlier this summer after a possible overdose.
The watchdog is looking into police actions in that case as officers were called to the area hours before Carson Crimeni was found, but said they saw no sign of the boy.
The 14-year-old was located by the Walnut Grove skate park later that night after another 911 call.
"We are attempting to gauge whether the actions of police who were attempting to locate somebody were appropriate," he said.
"I stress in both circumstances there haven't been any specific allegations of wrongdoing, but simply because of the statute, because the police were involved, it is our job to go have a look at the whole situation and then report out to the public what our findings are."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim