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'I'm a father with a broken heart'
One year later, family renews pleas for information on missing daughter

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 2, 2011

Dean Meyer hands over a notebook with a neatly written missive. One year after his daughter Angela's disappearance he has taken the time to collect the tempest of thoughts that have swirled unceasingly in his head.

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Angela Meyer: Disappeared November 27, 2010. She is described as a 5-foot-11 Inuit female weighing between 220 and 240 pounds, with glasses, dark brown hair and light brown eyes. She would be 23 today.

But Angela is still missing and Dean fears he will break down if he says the words aloud. He leaves the room.

"People say time heals," begins the letter. "I don't believe in that. If anything it's worse. I think of Pitseolak (Angela's Inuit name) 20 times a day. I'm not the same man I was a year ago. I'm a father with a broken heart."

On Nov. 27, 2010, then-22-year-old Angela Meyer was visiting her parents' 54th Street home. She had been an inpatient at Stanton Territorial Hospital for the past two months, removed from her group home when her schizophrenic episodes began to frighten other residents and became too frequent for staff to deal with. Her parents made the decision to send her to Independent Advocacy Inc., a facility in Edmonton, because no one in the North could accommodate her on a long-term basis. She was kind of excited about going, said her father. Angela was just weeks away from her journey when her mother signed her out for a weekend visit.

Around 1:30 p.m. that Saturday, Angela stepped outside for a cigarette. She smoked far too much, said Dean.

Kathy, Angela's mother, checked on her once. Candace, Angela's sister, checked again a few moments later. Angela was almost done her smoke. When a few minutes had gone by, Kathy looked out the window expecting to see a fresh cigarette in her daughter's fingers, but Angela was gone.

Dean didn't know his daughter was missing until he returned home from a business trip in Hay River that evening. He had been unreachable by phone. It had taken a little while for Kathy to work herself up to a worry, thinking at first that Angela had probably gone for a walk or around the corner to Bruno's Pizza, but after hours of driving around and searching, she knew something was wrong.

Her intuition was right. Repeated searches yielded only a few clues, ultimately leading to a cruel question mark that has trapped the family in their own private purgatory, unable either to celebrate or move forward in their grief.

"I've tried to put my energy into helping the rest of our family get through all this," continues Dean's letter. "I see the pain in their eyes and hear it in their voices whenever Angie's name is spoken and that breaks my heart a little more every time.

RCMP performed a full-scale search last December. Angela's white Helly Hansen brand winter coat was found in her old group home on Ptarmigan Road. A woman living on the same street said Angela, wearing a red and black coat, had wandered into her home that afternoon. When the woman asked what she was doing there, she said she didn't know and wandered back outside. Angela had run out of medication and become incoherent - a scenario Kathy had seen before. The woman called to her husband, who came inside from the yard and followed Angela in his truck. Merely hours after Angela's disappearance, neither the man nor the woman had any idea who she was. She had not been reported missing yet. The man followed Angela all the way to Rat Lake, phoned the RCMP then drove home. By the time the RCMP arrived there was no sign of her.

Another witness reported having seen her around Rycon trailer park the day of her disappearance. Still another saw her standing at the area of Con Road leading to Con Mine and the bulk fuel station around 4:30 p.m. As far as the police and Meyer family know, it was the last time Angela was seen.

Police later found a red and black coat in the bush in the Ptarmigan Road area. There were three lighters in one pocket and nothing else. The RCMP concluded it was Angela's jacket, said Dean, who conceded that hoarding lighters is something Angela might have done. For a while it seemed that she had likely contracted hypothermia and began to shed her clothes as she ambled, confused, through the bush. Yet after a search using police dogs, another massive community search in January, and even after the spring thaw, no other garments were found and neither was a body. Dean himself searched the area around Ptarmigan Road and Con Mine countless times. If his daughter had gotten hypothermia, he reasoned, she wouldn't have gotten very far, especially if she had, in fact, shed her coat. Dean wishes the RCMP had performed a DNA test on the coat. For him, it remains another question mark.

"I still have hope that she's alive, yeah," said Dean. "But I don't think she's alive in this city."

The Meyers are renewing their pleas for information. Knowing would be better than not knowing, Dean said, no matter the implications.

The RCMP describe Angela as 5-foot-11 Inuit female weighing between 220 and 240 pounds, with glasses, dark brown hair and light brown eyes. Her father describes her as friendly and outgoing.

"You'd be friends forever if you met her once," he said.

She was outdoorsy, especially in her youth, and was very family-oriented. She loved to visit her relatives in Taloyoak, where mother Kathy grew up. Toward "the end," as he calls it, she really enjoyed bowling with the Special Olympics bowling team.

During the hardships of the past year Dean and his family have drawn strength from the "tremendous" community support and want to thank the people, businesses and organizations of Yellowknife and Taloyoak who helped in whatever ways they could, whether by collecting donations or assisting in searches. They are also calling for the territorial government to come up with a plan "to start looking after mental health patients from the North here in the North."

Dean believes that his daughter would be safe and sound today if she had had a stable living environment, rather than being shuffled between two group homes, the family home and the hospital, which she hated. Now he expresses some remorse over not having sent Angela to Edmonton earlier.

His letter concludes, "Angie is still out there somewhere and I'd like someone to do the right thing now. It's been a year. We are not interested in laying any charges. Whoever has any information can call us directly if they don't want to talk to the RCMP ... No questions asked. Our family and friends need the closure and Angie deserves it too. We don't need any details just where we can find her."

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