Mounties caution island community as teen's family mourns
Mounties on Vancouver Island are urging the public to take extra precautions after a body believed to be that of missing teenager Tyeshia Jones was found Friday morning.
Police believe the 18-year-old was met with foul play, but have not determined whether she was the victim of a random or targeted attack –- and Cpl. Darren Lagan said until they do, locals should be vigilant.
"If you are going to travel, we suggest travelling in a group of two or more," he said, adding that young women in particular should "limit your vulnerability at this point as much as you can."
"Take a vehicle, a taxi, public transit. There are many options," he said.
The body was discovered by searchers scouring Cowichan tribal lands almost a week after Jones' disappearance. While the deceased's identity will not be confirmed until an autopsy Monday, Lagan said the search for Jones has ended.
In Pictures: Search ends in grim discovery
The Duncan teen's grief-stricken family says they are struggling to cope with the loss of a young woman whose life was full of promise.
"My heart was ripped in half," mother Faith Jim said Saturday. "Tyeshia's a young lady, smart, trying to go to college and it was all taken from her."
Jones' father Calvin was in Washington State when the news of her disappearance broke. "It's killing me right now because I wasn't here," he said. "I tried everything I could to get here and I wasn't here."
"I failed. I'm not saying if I was here it wouldn't have happened, but I feel chances are it wouldn't have happened this way."
The family thanked police and search and rescue volunteers for their tireless efforts, and had a message for anyone involved in Jones' tragic death.
"I hope that your conscience never rests," Calvin said. "I hope you can't sleep at night, because I know I can't."
"Someone knows something," Faith added. "I'm just waiting for justice to happen to whoever did this to her."
Lagan said more than 50 officers from eight different RCMP units and detachments will continue to investigate over the weekend, and promised police would continue to update the community on their progress.
"We can't share everything, but we're certainly sharing everything we can," he said, adding that the case "remains the top priority for us on Vancouver Island."
Jones went missing in the middle of the night on Jan. 21, spurring one of the largest search and rescue missions ever conducted on the island.
Police say she left a friend's home in Duncan some time before 3 a.m. to meet a boy at a local grocery store, but never arrived. Her cell phone was found on the grounds of the Yuthuythut Adult Learning Centre the next day.
Police have not determined how she died, but expect to have more information after Monday's autopsy.
Dozens of people gathered on the front lawn of Jones' family home for a vigil Friday night. RCMP Victim Services and the First Nation Community Policing Section are providing outreach and support to the community, Lagan said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Island RCMP.