When hope is fading

Nanaimo News Bulletin

May 13, 2006 

When a loved one disappears, it leaves family members with a giant hole. Fortunately, most missing person cases are solved quickly.
But not all of them.

"It's very painful, like it's a nightmare and you're going to wake up," says Joanne Young, whose daughter Lisa Marie went missing June 30, 2002.
The last her friends heard from her, Lisa Marie was on her cellphone on Bowen Road, riding with a stranger she met at a party.

The case is deeply troubling to crime investigators. Her body has never been found, but few doubt she was murdered.

"A lot of cases bother you we're all human," says Cpl. Doug Hogg, of the Nanaimo RCMP serious crimes unit. "Lisa bothers me. I see the pain the family is going through and yeah, I want to find her. I have a daughter and I just can't imagine...

"I want to find Lisa, just to have some closure."

For Nanoose Bay retirees Jack and Laila Cummer, the pursuit of closure has proven elusive, even after learning what happened to their granddaughter, Andrea Joesbury.

The Cummers were always close to their granddaughter, so when she moved to East Vancouver with an older man at the tender age of 16, it was a big disappointment. She was soon leading a dangerous drug-addicted lifestyle.

The Cummers were glad a few years later, when Andrea called with news she was ready to clean herself up.
Then she fell off the face of the earth.
"She was on a methadone program, but her doctor said she hadn't turned up for treatment," Laila says. The doctor had filed a missing persons report, and urged the grandparents to do the same.

The last time she had called, Andrea mentioned an invitation to a party her first since moving to Vancouver.

"She was quite excited about the whole thing," Jack said. "She said 'Don't come and get me, I'll be home when I'm ready, I'll be home soon.' That's the part that's hurtful, she was ready to come home."

The days soon became weeks and the weeks turned into months, and the Cummers's fears were fed by news reports of a string of disappearances in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Though they wouldn't mention it to each other, they both secretly began to worry their granddaughter was one of the victims.

"The worst scenario you can think of came to our minds because we had heard about Pickton," Jack said.
"We just put a mental block on it when it happens, we'll find out. Otherwise it will drive you crazy."

Andrea disappeared on June 5, 2001. The following February police knocked on the door asking for dental records, to compare against human remains found on Robert Pickton's Port Coquitlam pig farm.
"It's something I would wish on no one and it's something a lot of people are still going through, because they reckon there's 60-something missing, and only 26 he's been charged with."
The Youngs still hope Lisa Marie will be found.
"I wonder where is she, where is she," says Cecilia Arnet, her grandmother.

Last February the family brought in Norm Pratt, a psychic who pointed police to the body of a 23-year-old woman who disappeared while hiking in Nelson the previous month.

Pratt accompanied Joanne to Colliery dams, Buttertubs Marsh and several other locations, but he said he didn't feel Lisa Marie's presence at any of those spots. He led searchers to MacGregor marsh on Rutherford Road. The search only turned up animal bones, but Joanne says something changed that day.

"That's when I really believe our family began a bit of healing," she says.

"It's really hard because you can't put faith in everything you hear, but you always have that bit of hope this is the one thing that can help us find her."
The Cummers say closure is something they've always wanted.
"I find there is no closure," Jack says.

But at least he and Laila recently found a way to say goodbye to a granddaughter who was more like a daughter to them, at a beach where they once spent time together.

"I wrote her name in the sand and watched the tide wash it away."


Help Find Lisa

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