Mekayla Bali was 16 years old when she vanished without a trace from Yorkton, Sask., in April 2016. New tips have led the RCMP to investigate whether Mekayla could have ended up in Edmonton.
Mekayla’s mother, Paula Bali, said her daughter loved playing piano and violin, reading, and hanging out with her younger siblings.
“She wasn’t engaged in any high-risk or problematic behaviours so her disappearance to me is absolutely baffling,” Paula said Wednesday.
Mekayla’s story has captivated Saskatchewan residents, who are keen for every new piece of information gathered over the years.
About two weeks ago, a tip came into Paula’s hotline from a man in Edmonton who thought he met Mekayla outside the Highrun Club in Edmonton’s Capilano neighbourhood.
“He had stepped outside in the smoking area,” Paula explained. “He happened to meet this young girl, and in his recollection, he believes she used her name, Mekayla, and struck up a conversation.”
The man reportedly thought the young woman he spoke to seemed out of place. The interaction happened in March and the man didn’t know Mekayla was missing.
When he later came across a missing person posting, he thought he recognized the woman in the social media post and called both RCMP and Paula’s tip line.
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“His recollection of the conversation was that she was perhaps staying in the area and walking through,” Paula explained.
RCMP contacted their counterparts at the Edmonton Police Service and tried to obtain surveillance video from the area, but were unsuccessful.
The manager of the Highrun Club told Global News there are no cameras outside at the strip mall and that any indoor surveillance is lost after about 60 days.
That means the RCMP cannot confirm the sighting. But officers didn’t stop there.
“We continue to investigate Mekayla’s disappearance and have worked with the Edmonton Police Service, homeless shelters and local businesses in the Edmonton area to help share our missing person’s report,” Const. Robert Head with the RCMP said.
Despite nearly three and a half years passing since Mekayla was reported missing, her mother still believes she could be reunited one day.
“In my heart, I feel that she is alive. I don’t feel she’s safe. I feel she’s in danger,” Paula explained.
“I hope that one day we’ll see her again, and we’ll all have some answers.”
To date, 600 tips have come into RCMP about Mekayla, but Paula feels this one is being treated differently. She said a second sighting in Edmonton has also recently been reported.
“Every bit of information that anyone offers could be the piece that we’re looking for,” she said.
“For me, that gives me hope. It helps me get up in the morning and say I have to continue with life, even when you don’t feel like it.”