The boyfriend of a woman who disappeared in spring 2016 has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with that disappearance, RCMP announced Monday.
Ashley Marie Simpson was reported missing to the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP on April 30, 2016, after not being seen or heard from for several days. She was last seen April 27, 2016 in Vernon.
Police said the behaviour was not typical of Simpson and both family and police began to suspect foul play.
The BC Prosecution Service has laid a murder charge against Derek Favell. The 39-year-old is believed to have been Simpson's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.
Favell appeared remotely before a justice of the peace on Dec. 4 and was remanded to appear remotely in Kamloops Provincial Court on Dec. 9.
News reports from the time of the disappearance indicated it was Favell who had filed the missing person report.
Simpson’s family said the charge brought relief.
“This is the best Christmas present we could have ever got. Relief, something we’ve wished for, for almost six years,” the family said in a statement. “Thank you. Christmas came early.”
“When we found out about the development, we were very ecstatic,” the statement said. “A wave of relief and easiness came over us knowing that finally she is coming home. It was the most important thing for us that we could bring her home. The circumstances matter, but it matters most that she is brought home.”
The family said Simpson "shined" and made the people around her shine. She loved her family, especially her nieces and nephews.
"We want people that knew her to remember how she made them feel loved. She made them feel special. She was a caring soul. People will remember her for the love and the caring she showed everybody, family, friends and strangers," the statement continued.
Police said the Southeast District Major Crime Unit was called into the investigation early in the case.
The unit’s head, Chief Supt. Elija Rain, said the team worked diligently for almost five years on the case and identified Favell as a primary suspect.
“We know nothing can bring Ashley back. Now, as we prepare to continue to support Ashley’s family through the court process, we hope that the announcement today will bring them some sense of peace,” Rain said.
In June 2019, a family member offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could provide information that could lead to an arrest.