Dead man named as sus­pect in woman’s dis­ap­pear­ance

Truro Daily News - - Atlantic -

Po­lice have named a dead man as the only sus­pect in a young New­found­land woman’s dis­ap­pear­ance, as her mother pleaded for peo­ple to come for­ward with in­for­ma­tion in a pre­sumed homi­cide that has gripped the province for months.

Cort­ney Lake, a 24-year-old mother of a young son, van­ished June 7 after get­ting into a truck near her home in Mount Pearl, near St. John’s.

“As Cort­ney’s mother, I can­not ac­cept that we may never find her,” Lisa Lake told re­porters dur­ing a press con­fer­ence Tues­day, break­ing into tears.

“I am beg­ging to­day for any­one, any­body who can help us find Cort­ney please, please come for­ward.”

The Royal New­found­land Con­stab­u­lary said Philip Smith, her ex-boyfriend, was the only sus­pect in the homi­cide.

The 25-year-old man was found dead Nov. 1 in the woods near Belle­vue Beach, about an hour west of St. John’s.

Po­lice said Smith’s death was nei­ther sus­pi­cious nor crim­i­nal in na­ture but haven’t con­firmed mul­ti­ple re­ports he had killed him­self. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said they found no clues about Lake dur­ing a search of the area after Smith’s body was re­cov­ered.

In­spec­tor Tom Warren, who is lead­ing the probe, said in­ves­ti­ga­tors have con­ducted more than a hun­dred in­ter­views, re­ceived hun­dreds of tips and re­viewed “count­less hours” of CCTV footage.

He said po­lice be­lieve Lake got into Smith’s pickup truck just be­fore 8 p.m. on June 7 and that in Au­gust, Smith ad­mit­ted in an agreed state­ment of facts that he was the per­son who picked up Lake that day.

Warren said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve there are in­di­vid­u­als “who have with­held in­for­ma­tion,” and have asked them to come for­ward.

“I’m hop­ing with (Smith’s) pass­ing, that peo­ple who have ei­ther with­held in­for­ma­tion or who have re­fused to speak with us will now come for­ward,” said Warren.

The haunt­ing case has in­spired to­tal strangers to help look for the miss­ing woman, amid a so­cial me­dia cam­paign with the hash­tag #HelpFindCort­ney.

Lake’s rel­a­tives led ex­ten­sive ground searches, but her body has not been re­cov­ered.

Her mother said the fam­ily wants to give her a proper burial.

“My daugh­ter de­serves that. We need that,” she said.

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