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West Van police, North Shore Rescue search watershed for man's missing remains

There's no indication of foul play, but police and the family still have unanswered questions

West Vancouver police and North Shore Rescue have resumed searching for the remains of a man who disappeared on the North Shore in 2020.

Edmonton resident Jarrett Shane Whitford was last seen at a Hope gas station on Sept. 19, 2020, en route to North Vancouver.

Police found the 32-year-old’s 2015 Nissan Micra abandoned in the Capilano Mall parking lot on Jan. 21, 2021. At the time, investigators issued a renewed plea for tips from the public on Whitford’s whereabouts.

Sgt. Mark McLean, West Vancouver Police Department spokesman, said months later, workers in the Metro Vancouver watershed above Capilano Lake happened upon “partial human remains.”

“In June of this year, that DNA came back and was confirmed to be his DNA,” McLean said. “His family is aware of all this. We’ve been supporting his family the whole time.”

Police called in North Shore Rescue volunteers on Thursday to help scour the area, taking advantage of the low water level of the reservoir and dry search conditions, to look for any other remains or belongings.

McLean said they have unanswered questions, including how Whitford died and how his remains came to be in the watershed above Capilano Lake, which is off limits to the public and fenced in with barbed wire.

“There’s nothing to indicate a cause of death one way or the other, and I can’t stress enough, there’s nothing to indicate foul play,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to give some sort of closure to the family and find some evidence that would indicate how this came to be. That’s really why we’re up there today.”

Since investigators are trying to piece together what happened in Whitford’s final days, they are looking for any information the public can provide, especially from witnesses who saw him on the North Shore.

“I understand this was quite some time ago and that people’s memories might be affected, but certainly, if anyone recalls seeing a person who doesn’t look like an authorized employee in that fenced area of the watershed, we would certainly want to hear from them,” he said.

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