The owner of the property where missing woman Ashley Simpson was last seen says he’s doing all he can to help with the investigation.
Brent Cox, a single father of three who owns the Yankee Flats Road property, says he allowed Simpson and his longtime friend Derek Favell to temporarily stay on the property after the pair moved from Fort St. John.
“It’s terrible Ashley went missing. I feel really, really bad for everyone. I’m a father, so I can’t imagine what it must be like to have your child missing.”
Cox says Simpson and her boyfriend had a fight on Wednesday, April 27, and Simpson had texted Favell to says she was leaving.
Cox says Simpson had indicated she wanted to go back to Ontario to work with her father, but did not have the financial means to get there. He says the last time he saw Simpson she was doing yard work in the afternoon. He was unaware she had left the property until Favell told him the next morning.
“We thought she would turn up, that she would call her family for some money to get out there, but then days went by and nobody heard from her,” says Cox. “So Saturday, I loaned Derek my car so he could go in and make a missing persons report.”
Cox says he has co-operated fully with the investigation and voluntarily let both the Police and Shuswap Search and Rescue onto the property.
“I’ve let them look through everything, I’ve never restricted access. I’ve given statements to the police twice, once for three hours. They’ve taken my phone, they’ve taken my kids’ phone. They still have my phone. They had the dogs come through. Everything they wanted, I’ve done,” Cox says. “I knew they would not find anything, but I wanted to do what I could to help.”
RCMP major crimes investigators became involved with the case after nearly three weeks went by without any sign of Simpson. Police then confirmed her disappearance is suspicious and indicate Simpson may be the victim of foul play.
RCMP media spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Simpson’s typical communication with friends and family has ceased without explanation.
“SED MCU investigators have completed a search of a property on Yankee Flats Road in Salmon Arm. Ashley Marie Simpson remains classified as missing,” added Cpl Dan Moskaluk.
The RCMP Southeast District Major Crimes Unit is now assisting the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP in this investigation.
“This investigation is currently very active and a dedicated team of investigators is working daily on this file,” said Moskaluk.
Cox says the media attention and implications that access to the property had been restricted has unfairly cast suspicion upon him and his family.
“It’s turned our lives upside down and now people are treating me like I’m a criminal. I’m just a friend who did a favour for a friend by letting them stay here. I have done nothing wrong.”