By David F. Rooney
The mother of a young man missing in the woods at 12 Mile since December 2013 returned to Revelstoke this week hoping to convince the RCMP to conduct another ground search for him.
That specific hope was dashed as the Mounties said they have already searched the area a number of times. They did however, send a helicopter that was continuing the aerial search for the body of Les Wetselaar, to survey the area where Joshua Jeffs disappeared on December 19, 2013. The young man had been fleeing police in a stolen car when abandoned it at 12 Mile. A young woman who was with him, but who did not run into the forest, was arrested when police arrived on the scene. Despite a search, Jeffs was never found.
“We always keep Jeffs in mind, and the use of the helicopter allows us to cover a large area, can be done quickly and efficiently with minimal hazard to officers,” Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky, the Revelstoke detachment commander, told The Current. “There is always the potential to locate a piece of clothing, shoe, or other items from the air.”
However, a full-blown ground search is out of the question, he said.
“We conducted several searches of the area in question all occurring in the year of his disappearance. On the day he entered the forest we searched for 7 hours, and Joshua Jeffs was informally classified as a person who did not want to be found, i.e. avoiding police. Subsequently we worked with Revelstoke SAR to coordinate three more days of searching of the area, with police dogs, civilian dogs, ground SAR and helicopter. We conducted another search of the area, with SAR skiing into certain sites where a hunter had noted strange behaviour from his dogs. Further we searched in May of 2014 to scour the area again with ground SAR and police and civilian dogs, once the snow had melted. At no time have we located any signs of his presence there, i.e. clothing, shoes, hat, wallet, or anything connected to Joshua. Jeffs is now listed as a Missing Person on our databases.”
Charlene desperately hopes her son’s remains will one day be recovered. Her other two sons are, like her, sure he is dead but her two daughters still cling to the hope that he will one day show up. But that is a faint hope. Still, finding anything will ease the anxiety that haunts her.
“It’s hard for us,” she said during an interview at EZ Rock on Thursday, May 12. “We’re way over there (in The Pas) and he’s here.”
Local photographer and outdoorsman Roland Lamarre is continuing the search for Joshua’s remains on his own and though he hasn’t found anything yet, he remains hopeful.
“He’s out there,” Lamarre said. “It’s a question of being in the right place at the right time to spot it.”
Meanwhile, the RCMP stand ready to answer Charlene’s questions.
“We have been in communication with Charlene on several occasions, advising of our file status and seeking further information from her at times,” Grabinsky said. “Since her arrival in Revelstoke we have talked to her and offered her assistance from both police officers and Victim Services. We utilized the RCMP helicopter on Tuesday, May 10th, to search the area from the air, with no success.
“We have not activated SAR at this point as there exists no new information. Although several hikers and hunters have located bones in the area, they have each turned out to be of deer origin. If at any point we obtained further information, we would consider activating SAR. We have discussed this all with Charlene and she is aware of our position. The terrain in the area is extremely challenging to search, including such hazards as cliffs, swift creeks, and animal encounters.”
Please activate the audio player below to hear the radio interview with Charlene: