The Telegram (St. John's)
‘Our energy is on finding her’
As search continues for Cortney Lake, family says they need to say a proper goodbye
They don’t have access to investigators’ evidence, but every day since Cortney Lake disappeared, family and friends have been trying to think like police officers.
And a murderer. “Cortney has been murdered. Just saying that shocks us,” Lake’s aunt, Glenda Power, told The Telegram Thursday.
“At times, we get very angry. We’re obviously very sad and grieving, but our focus right now and our energy is on finding her.”
But that has proven to be a difficult task.
Lake, a 24-year-old mother of a young son, vanished six weeks ago, and was last seen in Mount Pearl the evening of June 7. Last month, the RNC released images from a vehicle’s dash-cam showing her getting into a black GMC pickup truck on Michener Avenue, near her home, at exactly 7:54 p.m.
The RNC announced three weeks ago it is investigating Lake’s disappearance as a homicide.
Yet, despite several tips, no one has been able to find her.
Family members, along with hundreds of volunteers and supporters — pegged Cortney’s Search Angels — have spent hours scouring areas of the Northeast Avalon — paths, dirt roads, fields, remote wooded areas — in dozens of organized searches, going anywhere they think her body could be.
“We try to think where a pickup truck could get,” Power said.
The police have understandably been unable to share evidence or information from tips, she said.
“It is a murder investigation, after all, and we completely support the investigative team.”
So, their searches have primarily been based on information the RNC has released publicly about where their investigators have searched, she said.
“(The RNC) talked about how they searched Galway, Mount Pearl, the Outer Ring Road and the Trans-canada Highway, so that told us that the Northeast Avalon is their focus. That’s where we’ve focused,” Power said.
The group’s Facebook page — Help Us Find Cortney, which has almost 26,000 members — includes a Google map with coloured pins indicating the areas the group and police have already searched and the areas left to cover.
“It’s been a great resource for us,” Power said.
The next scheduled search is set for Saturday, with details to be posted on the Facebook page.
When asked if there will ever come a point when they will call off the searches, Power replied, “We’ve not thought about it. We’re not stopping today and we’re not stopping tomorrow.”
She said the family has been strengthened by the overwhelming public support.
“To have that level of support sustained for this long is what keeps us going some days,” Power said. “It’s heartwarming that Cortney matters to not just us, but to thousands and thousands of people across the province and the country.
“In Cortney, they see their loved one, their daughter, their sister, their grandchild. That’s why people connect. We started searching for Cortney and something resonated with people.”
Power said the family is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, but they’re desperate to find her.
“We’re in a shock about this. It’s a horrifying situation. Even though it’s been six weeks, sometimes, despite all the searches, we sit back and ask, how could this be,” she said.
“The thought that Cortney is out there somewhere, having been killed by someone and just tossed away, that kills us.
“We want her home. We need to get her back to say goodbye in an appropriate way.
“Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that it’s horrible. There’s a process of grief, but our family hasn’t been able to do that.”
As for who she thinks might be responsible for Lake’s murder, Power said the family is choosing not to speculate or comment publicly on that.
However, they do have a message to whoever is responsible and are urging them to surrender.
The group’s Facebook statement reads, “Just think of how much better this will go for you if you come to the police now and tell where she is. They will find out. They will learn of your role in this, whatever it is, and they are coming for you.
“By you going to them first, you will show your willingness to help and this could work in your favour. Please. Do the right thing, for yourself and for us.”
Anybody with information on Lake’s disappearance can contact the RNC at 729-8000 or anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.