Searchers look for Natasha Montgomery’s body

The search line stretches out along the banks of the Bowron River. Bill Phillips photo
The search line stretches out along the banks of the Bowron River. Bill Phillips photo
Louanne Montgomery reads a statement about her daughter Natasha, thanking those who came out to search for her body near the Bowron River rest stop off Highway 16 Wednesday. Bill Phillips photo
Louanne Montgomery reads a statement about her daughter Natasha, thanking those who came out to search for her body near the Bowron River rest stop off Highway 16 Wednesday. Bill Phillips photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

Mother to mother.

Louanne Montgomery, mother of Natasha Montgomery who was murdered by Cody Legebokoff and whose body has never been found, issued a plea Wednesday to Legebokoff’s mother.

“I do not blame you for the action of your son but please understand that he is the only thing that is standing between me and my daughter and revealing the location,” she said. “As a mother I implore to you end this suffering.”

Natasha Montgomery disappeared in late August 2010. In 2014, Legebokoff was found guilty of murdering Montgomery, Jill Stuchenko, Cynthia Maas, and Loren Donn Leslie. Montgomery’s body has never been found.

On Wednesday morning about 50 people, including about a dozen RCMP officers gathered at the Bowron River rest stop east of Prince George on Highway 16 to search for Natasha Montgomery’s body, or any other clues as to where her body might be.

RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass said there is no hard evidence to suggest that Montgomery’s body is at that location but consider it a location that Legebokoff might have used.

“A missing person causes more pain to a family because the grief never ends and the questions can never be answered,” said Louanne, reading from a prepared statement. “The circle of healing can never begin. How can I believe she is gone when I cannot see her?”

Chief Charlene Belleau of the Esketemc First Nation. Bill Phillips photo
Chief Charlene Belleau of the Esketemc First Nation. Bill Phillips photo

The search, in conjunction with the RCMP, was organized by the Esketemc First Nation at Alkali Lake.

“Over the last two years, we’ve asked grand chiefs and hereditary chiefs to pick up a commitment stick,” said Belleau. “To commit themselves to stop violence and live violence free … Today with so many missing and murdered women I think it’s important for our leaders to step up and help with searches where they can.”

She said finding missing and murdered women is not only a police responsibility.

“This is the community stepping forward,” Belleau said. “We are just as concerned with missing and murdered women, but what are we going to do about it? To me this is a practical approach.”

Searchers get ready to head out into the bush to search for anything that might lead to the discover of Natasha Montgomery's body. Bill Phillips photo
Searchers get ready to head out into the bush to search for anything that might lead to the discover of Natasha Montgomery’s body. Bill Phillips photo

That is what the commit sticks are about, she said, adding she hopes that commitment will become a provincial strategy to be helping the search for missing and murdered women throughout the year.

“There’s no closure for her,” Belleau said.

And Louanne Montgomery was certainly moved by the community coming out to help search for Natasha.

“I am so overwhelmed with emotion that Chief Charlene Belleau had us in her hearts and prayers to help us find our girl,” said Louanne. “Our family is honoured that those in roles of power are using that influence to help those of us who continue to fight for a voice a make this search a reality. On behalf of my daughter, Natasha, thank you.”

When asked if should would like to share anything with the searchers she simply replied: “A piece of my heart.”

Searchers head out into the bush near the Bowron River rest stop east of Prince George in hopes of finding Natasha Montgomery's body. Bill Phillips photo
Searchers head out into the bush near the Bowron River rest stop east of Prince George in hopes of finding Natasha Montgomery’s body. Bill Phillips photo