RCMP have found the body of a Nanaimo teenager missing for nearly two months and are now investigating the death as a homicide.

Makayla Chang was last seen in Nanaimo on March 17. She was reported missing on March 22.

Nanaimo RCMP confirmed that the 16-year-old girl’s body was found in the Nanaimo area, but refused to say when or how the body was found. They did say they don’t believe the public is at risk, however.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Nanaimo RCMP said the investigation will be led by the Nanaimo Serious Crime Unit.

“This remains a priority investigation with dedicated resources tasked with determining the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and murder of Chang,” the statement read.

Chang’s friend, Lindsay Arsenault, spoke to CTV Vancouver Island on Thursday about the shocking news.

“I fell to the floor and just started crying. It’s an outcome we were not hoping for and one that I couldn’t have prepared myself for,” Arsenault said. “We were still keeping that positive hope and today it was crushed.”

Arsenault said the RCMP hasn’t told Chang’s family exactly where her body was found. She said they don’t want to hinder the investigation, but they’re still looking for answers about what happened to the teen.

RCMP officers executed two search warrants for the Nanaimo home of 53-year-old Steven Bacon. Chang was known to stay in the basement suite of Bacon’s home periodically.

The man had disappeared around the same time Chang was reported missing, but police managed to catch up with him in April, and he was questioned and released.

‘Goodbye beautiful’

As news of Chang’s death spread, Arsenault wanted to thank everyone in the community for the support they gave the teenager’s family over the past two months. She said, without it, “I’m sure Makayla’s family wouldn’t have known how much she is dearly loved and missed by everybody.”

Another friend, Jayy Moore, had a message for Chang.

“I think what we should say most to her is, ‘Goodbye beautiful,’” Moore said.

With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Jessica Lepp