Still no answers in Nanaimo teen's death one year into RCMP investigation
It was one year ago Saturday that 16-year-old Makayla Chang was last seen alive outside of a Tim Hortons in downtown Nanaimo.
Two months later, investigators found the body of the girl described as funny, fun and caring – and deemed her untimely death a homicide.
To this day, the case remains an open investigation. No one has been arrested or charged in the teen's death, something that has been painful for family and friends.
"It is hard. It's been a rough year," said her grandmother, Dolly Chang, who recently marked Chang's 17th birthday on March 1. "Not having answers the last year has been hard and frustrating. We all want justice."
Nanaimo RCMP won't comment on the ongoing case but the family says it is still considered an active homicide investigation, and that finding Chang's killer is a top priority.
In the days leading up to the discovery of her body, forensic officers searched the home of Steven Bacon, a friend of Chang's who was questioned and released by RCMP.
There were also numerous searches performed in a field near Bacon's home, the Colliery Dam and at the Cat Stream.
The location her body was found in remains a mystery, and even Chang's family says they still don't know where it was discovered.
Those who knew her say Chang's absence is still deeply felt among the community.
"I don't think we can't even explain how big it is, not just the loss of her as a person, but the loss of her potential," said AJ MacLeod, a coordinator for Generation Q . "People want answers."
The executive director of the Nanaimo women's centre says Chang's death is a wake-up call for a much-needed community conversation.
"I don't think we've had the discussion that we need to have," said Lesley Clarke. "We need to be listening to youth, and understanding the complexity of their lives."
Dolly Chang says family is waiting patiently to learn what happened to her young granddaughter – and why.
For now, she says the family's small sliver of comfort comes from having Makayla's body at a place where they can visit, and remember the good times they shared.