Friends and family of Joshua Jeffs are increasingly concerned about his well-being after not hearing from him since December 19, when he ditched out of the stolen car he was driving at 12 Mile south of Revelstoke.
Revelstoke RCMP followed the young Manitoba man from Revelstoke starting at about 5:30 that morning, after police checked the plates of the Hyundai Sonata he was driving and found it was listed as stolen.
The car ended up at 12 Mile, where it became stuck at the end of the road at the riverside recreation area.
Police apprehended a female occupant, but Jeffs evaded police. The RCMP set up a perimeter that morning from 6 a.m. to noon, but didn’t locate him.
On Jan. 2, RCMP officially listed Jeffs, 23, as missing, after family members contacted police with concerns. They said they haven’t heard anything from the young man since the incident.
Revelstoke RCMP spokesperson Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky told the Times Review police simply don’t know where Jeffs is. “We have no substantial evidence to say he is anywhere,” Grabinsky said.
His cell phone was found in the stolen car, and they haven’t been able to turn up any evidence he escaped the area and is doing fine somewhere else – such as transactions using his bank or credit card.
Grabinsky said two possibilities are likely: he evaded the roadblocks and search and left town, and is now laying low, “or he succumbed to the elements.”
Barb Thorassie is the mother of the 22-year-old woman who was in the vehicle with Joshua Jeffs. In a phone call from Manitoba, she said Jeffs had not contacted her daughter (his girlfriend) since the incident, which she said was unusual. Their concern is growing, and they urged police to resume searching at cabins or other places Jeffs could be taking refuge.
Staff-Sgt. Grabinsky said the RCMP decision to list Jeffs as missing (in addition to the warrant for his arrest arising from the Dec. 19 incident) resulted from contact from the family in early January expressing concern.
Grabinsky defended police actions. He said the ‘chase’ to the area was a more of a ‘follow.’ He said an officer had observed the pair prior to the incident, but that the search was impeded by a lack of co-operation by the female who was arrested. Grabinsky said she didn’t co-operate with police for about 30 hours after her arrest.
Police searched for Jeffs on Dec. 19, but relatively low snow cover in the area made the search difficult. “There was very minimal snow in the area and footprints weren’t obvious,” Grabinsky said.
Two days later, on Dec. 21, police launched a more extensive search that involved Revelstoke Search & Rescue, an RCMP helicopter and an RCMP canine search team. Snow had fallen since then, and searchers turned up no signs of Jeffs, such as footprints.
“We did a very effective search over those two days,” Grabinsky said. “We covered a huge area.”
Since then, RCMP have asked helicopter companies and area residents to be on the lookout.
Thorassie is especially concerned. An initial police description said Jeffs was wearing a jacket when he ran from the car, but she believes he was only wearing a T-shirt. Grabinsky said it was possible, as Jeffs’ clothing description was based on earlier police observation in the dark before dawn.