Jessica comes home

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Jessica is home.

Friends and family of Jessica Patrick (Balczer) drove her body back to Smithers on Thursday in a convoy from Prince George.

RCMP confirmed the body given to Jessica’s family was indeed Jessica on Friday, Sept. 21, a day after her body was back in Smithers. The RCMP said in the press release that it was still working with the BC Coroner Service to determine the cause of death.

The BC Coroner Service said all questions must be directed to the RCMP. The case is under criminal investigation by the Major Crimes Unit with support from Smithers RCMP.

The RCMP press release said, “The investigative team has obtained numerous court orders in an effort to secure all relevant evidence.”

The 18-year-old mother was reported missing on Sept. 3. She was reported as having been last seen at Mountain View Motel in the early morning hours of Aug. 31.

RCMP announced Sept. 16 that human remains had been found near Smithers. Her family and friends held a vigil attended by about 300 people at Bovill Square that Sunday afternoon.

Police confirmed Friday that the body was found by searchers 15 metres down a steep bank at a pullout on Hudson Bay Mountain Road. Family members said they were the ones to find her.

People lined up along Highway 16 in communities all along the way on Thursday to greet them and show support. Jessica, a Smithers resident and member of Lake Babine Nation, was back that afternoon.

About 200 were at Goat Park at Highway 16 and Main Street to show solidarity, many shouting “Justice for Jessica” as the line of at least a dozen vehicles passed by.

Solidarity by Woodmere Nursery (5:30), Telkwa (9:20) and Smithers (22:00)

More gathered at Bovill Square after her arrival. Jessica’s father, Michael Balczer, thanked the community of all peoples who live in northern B.C. for their outpouring of support.

“My daughter’s opened my eyes. She’s opened my eyes to this community of Smithers. I didn’t really know there was so much compassion in Smithers, as well as from Prince George all the way to Smithers,” he said.

Balczer said there was a unity to how everyone is coming together after the tragedy that took away his daughter.

“What the elders [said] to me is Jessica’s really powerful right now, and in her power she’s using it to gather these people: all kinds of nations, no matter if you’re white, black, Hispanic — we’re all here as one; we’re all here as equal,” he said.

When asked if he wanted to say anything else, he again thanked the community for its support and finished with the call sounded by many this day: “Justice for Jessica.”

Drumming in Prince George Wednesday

Smithers RCMP said the investigative team continues to advance the criminal investigation and wants to extend a sincere thank-you to the family and community members who have supported the investigation to date.

Should you have any information regarding Jessica Balczer’s death, you can contact the Smithers RCMP at 250-847-3233.

Should you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

A memorial being held at the Dze L K’Ant Friendship Centre hall on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. is open to the public.

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People hold hands and pray at Bovill Square after Jessica Patrick returned home Sept. 20. Chris Gareau photo

BC Bus North passes through as people lined up to welcome Jessica Patrick back home. The bus service to replace Greyhound was meant to help stop people from going missing along Highway 16. Chris Gareau photo

People also gathered in Burns Lake as Jessica Patrick’s family brought her home from Prince George. Contributed photo

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