Indigenous teen missing for more than a year found dead in Vancouver

An Indigenous teen from Port Coquitlam who was missing for more than a year has been found deceased.

Coquitlam RCMP announced Wednesday that the search for 14-year-old Noelle O’Soup – who went by Ellie – “has come to a tragic end.”

O’Soup was reported missing on May 12, 2021, and Mounties said Wednesday that she had been found, dead, in Vancouver.

RCMP did not say whether they consider her death suspicious, adding that the Vancouver Police Department “currently has conduct of the investigation” into the circumstances surrounding it.

In its own statement Wednesday, the VPD said O’Soup’s remains were discovered on May 1 of this year inside an apartment building at 405 Heatley St.

“Earlier today, we met privately with Noelle’s family and informed them of this tragic news,” the department said. “We will continue to provide her family with updates as this investigation progresses.”

Vancouver police said the BC Coroners Service is investigating to determine the cause and the VPD Major Crime Section is “investigating the circumstances surrounding” O’Soup’s death.

Investigators have not ruled out criminality in the case, police said, adding that the “active and ongoing” investigation limits how much detail they can share publicly.

“Noelle’s death will generate many questions in the community, and we are committed to finding answers,” the VPD said. “If, during the course of this investigation, we determine there is a risk to public safety, we will immediately notify the public.”

O’Soup left her home in Port Coquitlam around dinner time on the day she was last seen, according to RCMP.

Police have previously said she “did not have permission to leave,” but did not elaborate on what exactly that meant, declining to answer questions about her living situation.

Mounties said she was known to spend time around the Lower Mainland, including in Vancouver.

Police issued several appeals seeking information on the girl’s whereabouts, and released new photos in January, hoping for new leads.

At the time, investigators said they were making the surveillance camera photos public in hopes of moving the investigation forward. They did not say whether they believed the person in the photos was O’Soup, or if they thought the person was someone else with ties to her.

In their most recent update on the investigation before Wednesday, Coquitlam RCMP said the photos had generated new tips, but that all of them had been pursued and the girl still hadn’t been located. 

The RCMP estimates that between 70,000 and 80,000 people are reported missing each year in Canada, and says that most are found within seven days. 

The most recent data available is from 2020. At that time, B.C. had the highest number of missing adult reports per capita at 239 per 100,000 people. The province did not have the highest rate of missing children and youth, but did see a total of 5,870 reports that year.

Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately represented in these reports.

According to the Assembly of First Nations, 11 per cent of missing females are Indigenous, despite Indigenous people only making up about 4.3 per cent of the population of Canada. The current data is believed to underrepresent the scale of the issue, the AFN says. 

The RCMP said Indigenous women represent 10 per cent of cases in which a woman has been missing for at least 30 days, a statistic based on a 2015 report. Of those women, many were identified as missing “due to ‘unknown’ circumstances or foul play was suspected.” 

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