April 1: One day after issuing a plea to the public, RCMP say the missing 13-year-old Ladysmith girl is safe.
RCMP investigators believe a 13-year-old Ladysmith girl missing for two weeks is with someone known to her father. Her father is currently in custody for refusing to say anything about her possible whereabouts.
Payton MacDonald was last seen March 15 on Harbour View Road in Ladysmith. The next day, Ladysmith RCMP received a request from the Ministry of Children and Family Development to conduct a wellness check on the girl.
Police say the ministry possessed a court order directing the girl’s father to disclose her whereabouts, but he would not and was arrested.
At a press conference Thursday (March 31) in Victoria, the RCMP called on the public to contact them with any information about the girl or her whereabouts so they can verify her safety.
Staff-Sgt. Darrell Sandback of the RCMP’s Island investigation section said police don’t have any indication MacDonald is in imminent danger.
“What we do know is that the longer she goes missing, the more our concern grows as far as her well-being,” he said.
Officers also said recent posts on social media have claimed MacDonald is safe and is just on spring break. Investigators have determined those claims are not true, police said. They’re also in the process of authenticating a video sent to some media outlets of a girl claiming to be MacDonald.
Investigators had limited information about the case, but police said they’re following any potential leads that could help locate the girl.
MacDonald’s father, who has full parental custody according to police, was released after a March 18 bail hearing, but was arrested again March 23 for continuing to disobey the court order. He remains in police custody.
RCMP deferred questions on the wording of the court order and why a wellness check was requested by the ministry. The ministry said it can’t comment due to confidentiality, but said certain circumstances involve working with police to ensure a child’s safety.
Anyone with information is asked to contact their local police or the Ladysmith RCMP at 250-245-2215.
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