Murder investigation launched, vigil planned after missing woman found dead in Nanaimo
VICTORIA -- Nanaimo RCMP say a homicide investigation is underway after a missing woman was found dead in the downtown area earlier this month.
The body of Amy Watts, 27, was discovered in a small wooded area near the intersection of Albert Street and Victoria Crescent in downtown Nanaimo on June 3.
Watts was reported missing by family members on May 27, before her body was discovered roughly one week later.
Now, Mounties say that the Nanaimo RCMP serious crime unit has taken charge of the investigation.
Police say no arrests have been made yet, but officers are "fully engaged and are actively pursuing all investigative steps," according to Const. Gary O'Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.
"This has been a difficult journey," Watts' mother, Janice Coady, told CTV News on Wednesday.
"She was my only child. We've had a long and beautiful road through this together," she said.
Friends of the Watts family have planned a candlelight vigil at the parking lot of Nanaimo City Hall on Wednesday evening.
The vigil is planned for 8:30 p.m. and attendees are asked to wear masks and bring their own candles in cups or other mementos.
Watt's mother has travelled to Nanaimo from Prince Edward Island to attend the vigil and bring her daughter's belongings home.
"On behalf of Amy’s mother, Janice Coady, family, friends, and loved ones, it is with my deepest regret, and honor, to invite anyone and everyone in the community of Nanaimo to join them in a candlelight vigil to honor, grieve, and bring love to their beloved Amy," wrote organizer Dee Vickberg in a social media post Monday.
"To respect city hall and the neighbouring vicinity we will have to remove all flowers left within a day," Vickberg added. "If you leave trinkets or stuffed animals they will have to be removed, and will be gifted to Amy’s beautiful mother, Janice."
Organizers say a microphone will also be at the vigil if anyone wishes to share stories, and Vickberg encourages any musicians to play if they would like to.
Former Nanaimo councillor Gord Fuller says he knew Watts well and that the pair worked together on homeless outreach programs in 2015 and 2016.
Fuller says she was also an Indigenous youth outreach worker who worked with the Nanaimo Youth Services Association.
"She was a promising young girl and the system failed her," Fuller said Wednesday.
He says that Watts struggled with mental health and addictions challenges, and even though she was in treatment several times, she fell through the cracks of the public support system.