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Missing teen hasn't left island, RCMP says

From Facebook, a recent but undated photo of Jodi Henrickson.

For Bowen Island residents celebrating Canada Day, the troubling question was as clear as the police helicopter sweeping the skies and officers searching properties.

What has happened to 17-year-old Jodi Henrickson?

It's been 11 days since the Squamish teenager was seen at a house party on the Howe Sound island, and the RCMP have cryptically said they do not believe she has left the community with about 3,500 permanent residents, a 15-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay.

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"We have 11 days of no contact, which is very out of character and unusual. We're just plugging away and working as hard as we can to get any clue or evidence," said RCMP Corporal Dave Ritchie, who is speaking for the force.

The mystery has been the talk of the 56 square-kilometre Bowen Island.

Doug Hooper, a member of the district council, said Canada Day celebrations offered no respite from a vigorous police effort to solve it.

"It was the backdrop to the Canada Day event. There was a helicopter in the air all day, and it was clearly part of the search effort," Mr. Hooper said.

That search has drawn the efforts of Mounties from across the Lower Mainland, and included police dogs and boats checking out creeks, shorelines and rough terrain.

Yesterday, police were focusing on properties across the island.

"Down at the Canada Day celebrations today, our community picnic, it was very much a topic of conversation and concern," Mr. Hooper said. "It's mostly questions. There isn't a lot of answers known. There's more questions than answers."

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The RCMP are certain of only two things at this point.

Ms. Henrickson was last seen after a house party on June 20.

And Cpl. Ritchie says investigators are fairly confident that Ms. Henrickson is still on Bowen Island.

"She did not leave Bowen Island. Jodi is still on the island. That's our belief at this point," he said.

But what exactly does that mean?

"We don't know why she has not contacted anyone, and we don't know if she has met with foul play, met with accident, medical condition or what," he said.

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Is she still alive? "We don't have any indication that she is not alive."

By Wednesday evening, Cpl. Ritchie reported that police had not made any progress despite a day of work.

"[The searches]have all been negative," he said.

The uncertainty has been unsettling to Ms. Henrickson's family, but also for residents of this tranquil island community, where Mr. Hooper said people have been shaken by four recent deaths – two traffic accidents, and a pair of health-related fatalities.

"The island is feeling rather emotional around how tenuous life is," Mr. Hooper said.

Asked about Cpl. Ritchie's assertion that Ms. Henrickson is still on Bowen Island, he said "if that is, in fact, their evidence then clearly we have got a situation that is going to stay focused on Bowen until we solve it."

Cpl. Ritchie confirmed that Ms. Henrickson complained to RCMP in Squamish in April of an assault by an ex-boyfriend, who subsequently entered a guilty plea in provincial court and was given an 18-month probation order that includes a no-contact order with her.

That man, he said, had contact with Jodi on the night of June 19 through the morning of June 20 because they were with friends at a party.

"The boyfriend has been spoken to by police on a couple of occasions," he said, but added he could not comment on what help he might have offered.

The mystery has prompted the creation of a "Let's find Jodi Henrickson" page on Facebook, which yesterday had 809 members.

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