Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Friend Questions Police Investigation after Missing Woman Found Dead in B.C

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Friend Questions Police Investigation after Missing Woman Found Dead in B.C

Article excerpt

Body found in B.C. identified as missing woman

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A family friend of a Saskatchewan woman found dead in a forested area of British Columbia hopes a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women will look into why police publicize some missing person cases but not others.

Dana Morenstein says Deanna Desjarlais of Saskatoon, who was a sex-trade worker with addiction problems, was twice reported missing earlier this year to police in Vancouver.

Last week, an officer called to tell her family that remains found May 17 in woods near Surrey, B.C., were recently matched to the 27-year-old, said Morenstein.

The body was badly decomposed and had been scavenged by animals. Morenstein said police informed the family that a cause of death hasn't been determined, but it's considered suspicious.

She's now questioning what police did before the remains were identified -- and why they never released a missing person bulletin with a photo of Desjarlais to the public.

"No one even knew she was missing," said Morenstein, a teacher at the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, a reserve east of Regina.

She said when police didn't take public action, she started a Facebook page to get the word out about Desjarlais and sent flyers to Vancouver agencies to distribute.

"We were getting no help from police," said Morenstein, who added the national inquiry needs to look at missing persons being publicly identified.

"I think that there are too many missing women's cases that are dismissed."

Vancouver police said they seriously investigated Desjarlais as a missing person, even though they didn't issue a media release. She was first reported missing May 1.

"The information we had was that she was alive and well and potentially not wanting to be located," said acting Sgt. Brian Montague.

He said the family was notified and the file was closed. It was reopened when Desjarlais was reported missing again in June. …

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