The skeletal remains of a 39-year-old hiker who went missing in the southern Vancouver Island backcountry one year ago have been found.
Melissa McDevitt, 39, last spoke to her family on Dec. 8, 2022, before heading out for a hike near Sooke, west of Victoria, the following day.
McDevitt was supposed to catch a flight to the U.S. from Vancouver the day after the hike, but did not show up, prompting a formal missing-person investigation on Dec. 10.
McDevitt’s vehicle, a grey Subaru Forester with a North Carolina licence plate, was found in a parking lot near Sooke Potholes Regional Park.
Surveillance video from a nearby fish hatchery showed McDevitt, who was known to be an avid hiker familiar with the local backcountry, walking through a parking lot on Dec. 9 and entering a trail with hiking poles in hand.
Tom McDevitt, the missing woman’s father, flew out from North Carolina to join the search that week.
“I needed to be here,” said the concerned father. “My wife couldn’t make the trip because it was too emotionally draining for her to travel across the country.”
Multiple co-ordinated searches were launched by volunteer search-and-rescue groups from across Vancouver Island, including over the summer.
A loose group of volunteers who organized on social media under the name “Mindful of Melissa” ultimately located her remains after spending most weekends since her disappearance searching for her, Island District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Alex Bérubé told CTV News on Thursday.
The remains were found in very thick vegetation and McDevitt’s hiking poles were found approximately 150 metres from her remains, the RCMP spokesperson said.
“Although a full determination has yet to be made, RCMP do not believe that criminality was involved in the woman’s death,” Bérubé said.
There was no indication found at the scene to suggest her death was a suicide either, he added.
The BC Coroners Service has been notified and is investigating the death.