When Leeann Nett and her partner Chad Hall go camping, and that is often, they find themselves scouring the surrounding brush looking for anything that might lead them to the whereabouts of April Parisian.
“We’ll wake up in the morning, have our coffee and go for a walk around the campsite,” she said. “And then you go off in the little trails, your mind and your spirit just naturally are looking on the ground and constantly looking even though you’re not even in the right area. There’s no way that they could be in that area but you automatically look, it’s impossible not to.”
What Nett and Hall are looking for is any trace of Parisian, Hall’s sister who has been missing since early April. It’s a reality only those whose family members are missing will experience, and it’s constant Nett said.
It is coming up on the sixth month since Parisian, then 45-years-old, went missing from the Fraser Canyon community of Spuzzum. Family last heard from her on April 5, which was also the date of her last bank transaction, with no word from her since.
Parisian’s case was taken on by the RCMP’s homicide investigation team after Parisian’s fiancé Paris Margesson died of self-inflicted wounds in her truck on April 17. Sgt. Frank Jang, spokesperson with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said the case is being treated as a suspicious missing persons investigation and Parisian is presumed dead.
The area investigators are focused on are Spuzzum, where Parisian lived, as well as the Hope and Agassiz area.
“There’s nothing to suggest that she’s left the immediate area and her community,” Jang said. “So our efforts are still concentrated in that vicinity.” Even with this narrowed down area, there is still a lot of bush and the area is still a large one Jang said.
A core team of eight to nine IHIT members are working on the investigation, with help from detachments surrounding the Fraser Canyon including Boston Bar, Hope and the regional Upper Fraser Valley Detachment. Without going into the specific case, Jang said an investigation like this involves speaking with family members and friends, reviewing phone and bank records and watching, in real-time, many hours of video surveillance.
“There’s significant video and because we don’t have a starting point, i.e. the body, the crime scene, the final resting place of April…our net is cast very wide right now,” Jang said.
The key suspect in the case is Margesson, Jang confirmed, adding that no other name has come up when asked whether others could be involved.
Margesson’s death was looked at by the Independent Investigations Office, an investigation which concluded May 4. The IIO serves as B.C.’s police watchdog, who investigates any death or injury linked to police, to determine whether police action or inaction played a role in the incident. The IIO found “that the actions or inactions of police did not result in the death of the man” a spokesperson stated.
Family have said Parisian and Margesson were very much in love, however there may have been a darker side to their relationship. Parisian’s cousin Tammy Francis, who took the lead in organizing community searches after her cousin’s disappearance in early April, said she witnessed fights and an unexplained injuries that led her to believe things were not quite right.
“Little things now, that you notice, that you didn’t really pay attention to…people should have paid more attention,” she told the Hope Standard in May. While Margesson does not have domestic charges on his criminal record, there are charges including assault and threats to cause bodily harm. Some of these charges have gone through the court process, others have not.
As investigators continue working the case, Nett said the family needs the wider community to continue to be alert and to help the family with their eyes and ears. “Just being vigilant if they’re out in the backcountry camping, hiking, anything like that,” Nett said. “For them to report anything that they come across.”
Up to and until the family find out what happened to Parisian, reminders will continue to pop up in unexpected places. Nett was recently deciding what photo to use for a new Facebook profile photo. Scrolling through her photos, she found a comment posted by Parisian. “April commented on it and put a bunch of GIFs on it, just being April’s silly self and being a weirdo,” she said.
And family members have even taken on the role of investigating April’s disappearance, they collect what they have in binders or on a clipboard and Nett even submitted to police a timeline. Massive searches were also organized by family members for months after her disappearance and family meetings continue. These efforts aren’t without consequences, Nett said, as the mental and spiritual effects of these efforts combine with ongoing grief.
Yet the work doesn’t stop and neither does the gathering for April. Nett said family host a monthly potluck on the 8th of every month, at Parisian’s home in Spuzzum.
Parisian is described by police as an Indigenous female with blonde hair and blue eyes, 170 centimetres (5 feet 7 inches) tall, weighing 127 kilograms (280 pounds.)
She is known to shop in Chilliwack and is a well-known face around Hope, but is generally a homebody at her home in Spuzzum. Parisian’s vehicle was also found between Abbotsford and Chilliwack on Vye Road.
“April is still missing…we’re still hopeful, but at the same time we would certainly appreciate if anybody has information to call our tip line,” Jang said.
Anyone with information should call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
A previous version of this story stated incorrect information about the status of the IIO investigation into the April 16 death of Paris Margesson. The investigation was concluded on May 4.
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