The discovery of their missing daughter’s driver’s licence has created questions but no answers for John and Cindy Simpson.
“We were doing fairly well until this broke,” John said Wednesday morning, Oct. 24, speaking from Niagara On the Lake, Ontario. “That sits in your mind wondering, maybe the tears are flowing a little bit more than they usually do, you know. It’s back in the news and back in your face.”
The driver’s licence of their daughter Ashley, who went missing from Yankee Flats Road south of Salmon Arm in April of 2016, was found two weeks ago in the tank of a sewage vacuum truck used by the Sasquatch Crossing Lodge in northern B.C.
“Police are aware that Ashley Simpson’s ID was located at the Sasquatch Crossing Lodge, an area in Pink Mountain that Ashley was linked to prior to her relocation to North Okanagan,” confirmed RCMP Media Relations Cpl. Dan Moskaluk. “The investigation is ongoing.”
John, meanwhile, says the discovery brings up all kinds of questions.
“We’re not sure when it got there, how it got there, anything like that… They sent it to me after the police were up there. It was found in the back truck tank, but it looked pretty new, it didn’t look discoloured, it didn’t look like it sat in the tank for too long.”
He says there are so many possible scenarios to explain the find. Is it a plot to throw them off from looking in the right location; was it there because her ID was stolen?
“I think years ago Ashley told me somebody stole her ID…,” John says. “And why the vac truck? I know the vac truck empties into a lagoon so she would never be found again, type of thing. That leaves us to wonder a lot of questions, of course.”
He confirms that Ashley worked with him – he was a cook – at the lodge and an affiliated motel, the Buffalo Inn, for three seasons. She worked both in the kitchen and with reservations. Pink Mountain is a town in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, about 180 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John. Her boyfriend worked across the road in another business.
John has described in previous interviews the special bond he and his daughter shared. He refers to his Icelandic, Viking heritage, and how he loves adventure and travelling. As did she. Ashley would join him, working and travelling.
She was 32 when she went missing.
Ashley had moved to the Shuswap in early 2016 and was living with her boyfriend on Yankee Flats Road when she disappeared. She had been planning to come home to Ontario.
John said police didn’t need to keep the driver’s licence because so many people had handled it that there would be no evidence remaining.
He says he and his spouse Cindy are still hanging onto the hope that Ashley will be found in the area where she lived in the Shuswap.
Although he is not a strong believer in psychics, he says Cindy is. They’ve consulted with several who think Ashley’s remains are in the Shuswap.
“They say she’s in the area, we’re not looking in the right spot.”
John says his family is grateful for the drone searches being carried out by the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women group as well as Wings of Mercy. He’d like more people to remember the missing women and help search.
Along with Ashley, Caitlin Potts, Deanna Wertz and Nicole Bell have gone missing from the North Okanagan-Shuswap. The remains of Tracy Genereaux, who was also missing, were found in October 2017 on a farm in Silver Creek, not far from Yankee Flats Road. No arrests have been made or charges laid in her death.
John would like the government to get involved.
“I wish the government would take it seriously and bring troops in with all the equipment they have and scour B.C. until they find these people,” he says.
Meanwhile he and Cindy are emotionally and financially drained.
He’d like to see more government help for families with missing children. He says help is available if a child is 18 or younger or, if they’re older, a body is found. But in cases like theirs, there’s nothing.
“Two-and-a-half years and $30,000 that you can’t claim on your taxes. There are so many families affected. My wife and I are just hanging in,” he says.
And the waiting for news is torturous.
“It drains a person’s soul after a while,” he says. “You’re just a blank individual waiting for something else to happen.”