North Vancouver RCMP has been cleared in the case of a woman who was reported missing, then found dead in her home several days later.
Elizabeth Joanna Napierala was officially reported missing on Sept. 3, 2019. Police said they searched her home, but didn’t find her until Sept. 5 when it was discovered she had been inside the entire time.
In a report released by Ron MacDonald, chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) Thursday, the watchdog said police had investigated diligently in an effort to find her.
The report concludes Napierala — identified as AP in the report — died of toxicity from an ingredient in a common antihistamine on Sept. 3 or Sept. 4, and appears to have hidden herself under her bed.
Police had been informed that Napierala was in the process of moving, and there were bags and boxes strewn around the residence that the report says she appears to use to hide herself.
An RCMP officer first attended the home on Sept. 3 after a concerned party phoned police because Napierala wasn’t answering her phone.
The report found the officer spent about an hour at the scene looking for her and speaking with a neighbour, who said they’d seen her taking out the trash the night before.
At that point, the officer reported the home was cleared, and reported Napierala missing.
When police learned that Napierala was known to frequent nearby trails the response was escalated to a search include police dogs and North Shore Rescue.
The following day, police issued a media release and missing posters and returned to search the home a second time, but found it undisturbed.
It wasn’t until a group of officers returned a third time on Sept. 5 that Napierala was discovered deceased under her bed.
The report further noted that concerns about Napierala’s mental health had been previously reported on at least one occasion, and that the initial investigating officer, after finding belonging such as her keys and phone, could have reasonably believed she had left the home to self-harm elsewhere.