The family of a southern Alberta woman believed to have been killed in late July is speaking out in hopes of finding out what happened to her.
Police say Vida Smith, 69, was last seen by her family on July 21 in Chestermere, before heading to the Sunridge area in Calgary.
Smith never returned home and has not been seen or heard from since.
Initially, police said they were looking to speak with Smith’s friend 60-year-old Kevin Barton, also known as Chris Lee, as her daytimer indicated she would be meeting him at a coffee shop in northeast Calgary on July 21 — the same day she was last seen.
However, on July 31, police stated Barton had been arrested and charged with one count of manslaughter in connection to the death of the missing woman.
Smith’s body has not yet been found and her family released a statement on Wednesday.
“Vida Smith is more than just a missing person or a victim,” the statement said. “She’s a beautiful human being, she’s a friend, a mother and a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren more than anything in this world. Vida is so missed and forever loved by her friends and family.
“We are beyond devastated and our hearts are broken knowing that we’ll never see her again.”
Smith’s family said they want answers on the case.
“Even though we are seeking privacy during this unimaginable time, we are asking for the public’s help,” the statement said. “If you saw something or if you know something, please come forward.
“Our mom deserves dignity and respect. We just want to find her and bring her home so she can rest in peace.”
Based on evidence, investigators believe Smith was killed and her remains may have been disposed of when Barton travelled from Calgary to Edmonton on July 22.
Police said they believe Smith and Barton had a disagreement on July 21 between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. inside an SUV, parked on the west side of the Sunridge ATB.
In hopes of generating more information on the case, police have released a photograph of the accused’s vehicle, a beige Cadillac Escalade, and are asking anyone who may have seen it between Calgary and Edmonton on Wednesday, July 22 to contact investigators.
“Though we have laid charges, our investigation is not over,” CPS Homicide Unit Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said.
“We remain focused on locating Vida’s remains so we can help bring some sense of peace to her family.”
Anyone who witnessed suspicious activity in the parking lot located at 2555 32 Street N.E. on July 21, is also asked to contact police at 403-266-1234, or the homicide tip line at 403-428-8877.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477.
— With files from Melissa Gilligan, Global News