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Police watchdog probing death of woman reported missing by North Vancouver RCMP

Elizabeth Joanna Napierala, seen in an undated photo released by North Vancouver RCMP Sept. 4, 2019. North Vancouver RCMP

A woman reported missing by North Vancouver RCMP last week was later found dead in her own home, prompting B.C.’s police watchdog to be notified.

RCMP originally reported Elizabeth Joanna Napierala missing on Sept. 4, saying she was last seen two days earlier on Sept. 2 in the Woodcroft Complex on Fullerton Avenue.

According to the initial release, Napierala suffered from medical conditions “that leave her vulnerable to being outside and prone to falling down.”

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The report prompted a response from North Shore Rescue, who scoured the area with ground and air crews without success.

WATCH: IIO investigating the initial search by RCMP for a missing North Vancouver woman, after she was later found dead in her own home

Click to play video: 'Police watchdog probes death of North Van woman reported missing'
Police watchdog probes death of North Van woman reported missing

On Sunday, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) said the missing person’s report was filed on Sept. 3 after police conducted a welfare check at Napierala’s home in Woodcroft.

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Two days later, on Sept. 5, RCMP alerted the IIO that Napierala had been found in her home around 1:15 p.m., and was declared deceased by paramedics.

The IIO is now investigating whether police actions or inaction played a role in the woman’s death.

WATCH (Aug. 22, 2019): IIO releases new details in death of 14-year-old

Click to play video: 'IIO releases new details in death of 14-year-old'
IIO releases new details in death of 14-year-old

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald said that includes determining whether the welfare check conducted by police was thorough enough.

“Every situation is different,” he said. “Sometimes (police) will go to the home and knock on the door, sometimes they’ll actually go into a residence and search around. It all depends on the particular circumstances.

“The bottom line here is, is what the police did reasonable in the circumstances?”

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MacDonald wouldn’t speculate on whether Napierala was already deceased at her home during the welfare check, or was gone and somehow returned without anyone noticing.

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The Woodford Complex contains six buildings that are each monitored by their own security personnel, a security worker told Global News.

MacDonald said even if it is determined that the police welfare check wasn’t sufficient, that wouldn’t necessarily lead to criminal charges.

“It would have to be a marked departure or substantial departure from the standard of care that was owed, and that’s a very high test,” he said. “But it’s very preliminary right now, and we can’t speak to those issues until we collect all our evidence.”

North Vancouver RCMP would not comment on the case, referring all questions to the IIO.

The RCMP release regarding Napierala’s disappearance was removed from the detachment’s website this weekend.

—With files from Kristen Robinson

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