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Do you know what happened to Tyeshia Jones?
Police and the family of Tyeshia Jones implore anyone with information about what happened to the Duncan teen to come forward immediately.
The body of 18-year-old Tyeshia Jones was discovered in a wooded area near the Indian Road cemetery on Friday morning.
Jones went missing after leaving a party on Miller Road in the early hours of Saturday, Jan. 22, and full-scale RCMP and Search and Rescue effort began on Monday.
Now instead of searching for Jones, police are hunting whoever is responsible for her tragic death.
“We assure the public and the Cowichan Tribes community that we are doing absolutely everything we can to identify who is responsible for Tyeshia’s death,” RCMP Cpl. Darren Lagan said during a press conference Friday afternoon.
“We also have to make an appeal to the public. Our experience in cases such as this is that somebody or some people know what happened. This is the time to come forward. There is a family in absolute agony right now, and a community feeling that agony. You need to do what you can to help investigators.”
Lagan urged anyone with information about Tyeshia’s disappearance and death to call the local RCMP detachment at 250-748-5522, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Meanwhile, more than two-dozen investigators from the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit and the Duncan RMCP, as well as specialized RCMP resources from across the island, are working on the file.
“People can expect to see an increased RCMP and police presence around the valley in the days to come, especially in the Indian/Miller Road area,” Lagan said. “We have a very large area to search and we’re going to ask people to be patient if they’re stopped or redirected. This is the most important of investigations and we are going to do everything possible to make sure nothing is missed.”
Lagan admitted the search for more information and evidence is a complicated one, given where Jones’ body was discovered.
“This is a very complex area as far as the geographic and the ground terrain,” he explained. “It’s densely wooded and it’s a large area. We do not expect this to be finished today. We expect this will take several days, if not longer, to complete.”
The B.C. Coroners Service had yet to determine Jones’ cause of death by Friday afternoon, but police suspect foul play.
“I know that’s a difficult thing to hear,” said Lagan, “but I think we need to be open and honest with the community and encourage them to help us. This is a very serious and complex investigation and we need their help.”
Jones’ body was discovered as part of a methodical grid search by Search and Rescue technicians.
“They are the experts in identifying an area, literally putting a grid to that map and then working it methodically,” Lagan said. “This was an area slated to be examined today as the search expanded, and shortly after they arrived and commenced the search in that area they located the body.”
The weeklong, large-scale search effort puts investigators in a better position now, Lagan added.
“We’re not working behind now. We are ahead because we’ve been doing so much up to this point and that’s going to be an asset to the investigation,” he said. “The family felt something wasn’t right; the community felt something wasn’t right, and that translated into us feeling something wasn’t right, and we proceeded in that sense.”
Members of the Vancouver Island RCMP Tactical Troop hit the ground again Saturday to continue canvassing efforts, but Lagan stressed the key role of the community in the investigation.
“This will be a community effort,” he said. “Information, tips, any support people can offer, we welcome.”
Cowichan Tribes Chief Lydia Hwitsum echoed the call for public assistance.
“I just came from the family and they’re struck by this tragedy and they’re feeling a lot of pain,” Hwitsum said.
The chief also thanked all those who participated in the search effort to locate Jones, a recent graduate of the Yuthuythut Adult Learning Centre.
“It’s the worst possible outcome we could have had in the search,” said Hwitsum, “and at the same time we acknowledge all the efforts of the community, and call on the community to do whatever we can toward a sense of safety amongst our people in our community in this valley.”