Body of missing First Nations teenage girl found in Lake of the Woods
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, March 22, 2016 4:10PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 22, 2016 6:05PM EDT
KENORA, Ont. -- Police in Ontario have found the body of a First Nations girl who had been the subject of an extensive missing person's search for the last three weeks.
Ontario Provincial Police said the remains of Delaine Copenace, 16, were discovered Tuesday morning in Lake of the Woods at the edge of Kenora.
Municipal workers found her body in the water.
Police have not revealed a cause of death or indicated whether foul play is suspected.
Const. Ronni Grosenick said an autopsy is to take place in Toronto and officers are still actively working on the case.
"Any time a missing person is found deceased is a sad day for the family, the community and all of the police officers who have been involved in the investigation," she said.
It was not typical for the teen to be out of contact with her friends and family, Grosenick added.
Delaine was last seen in downtown Kenora on the night of Feb. 27. Her family reported her missing the next day.
Relatives on Facebook posted that she had gone for a walk with friends and it was out of character for the shy girl not to return home.
The police search grew to include the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and a large number of community volunteers. It also stretched 200 kilometres west to Winnipeg, where Delaine had family and often visited.
Posters were plastered to lampposts and a cash reward was offered for information. There were candlelight vigils and a benefit concert.
James Favel with the volunteer Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg said his group received a call Friday that Delaine had been spotted in the city, but it turned out to be her identical twin sister who was there helping with the search.
He phoned the girl's family Tuesday when he heard a body had been found.
"I spoke with the grandmother about it but she broke down right away," he said. "Later I talked to Delaine's father. They had made the discovery and she hadn't been identified, so he just thanked me for our efforts.
"It's very unfortunate things ended the way they did."
Family members issued a statement thanking people for their support and prayers. They said they are devastated and asked for privacy.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection said in a release that it worked closely with Delaine's parents throughout her disappearance. It hopes people with information will still come forward.
"Any information, no matter how small it may seem, could be the tip that leads to answers for this family," the centre said.