Ladysmith RCMP has announced that 13-year-old Payton MacDonald has been located and is safe after turning to the public for help amid a missing person investigation.
RCMP issued a report on Friday highlighting that the investigation into Payton’s disappearance has come to a “successful end.”
“Typically, you will note that we do not mention the missing person’s name in our news release for privacy reasons, however, this case was highly publicized and the public had major concerns for her well-being,” says Cpl. Alex Bérubé with BC RCMP.
Meanwhile, a close family friend who lives in Burnaby says Payton was never missing.
Thomas Potter, who’s had the 13-year-old staying with him since the start of spring break saw the video and the police appealing for information about her location.
“I didn’t know about it until I saw it yesterday,” said Potter.
He went to the police last night to report that Payton is fine.
“She has never been missing and as I said to the ministry and to the RCMP her father put her in my care,” said Potter.
Payton and her father, Bryn MacDonald, have been living on a boat in Ladysmith Harbour. The Ministry of Children and Families launched an investigation for an undisclosed reason. RCMP first reported her missing on March 18.
Now Bryn is in jail.
“There was a court order in place that required him to disclose the location of his daughter. He failed to do so and as a result he was arrested and held in custody,” said Bérubé.
“He’s justifiably worried about Payton being traumatized again,” said Potter.
Bryn was charged on March 17 with disobeying the court order and released on bail the next day.
Police arrested him again on March 23 on another count of disobeying the same court order.
“He was arrested and held in custody his next court appearance is going to be on April 5th,” said Bérubé.
Potter says now that Payton’s location is known Bryn should be released.
“All that she needs right now is for her father to be released from Wilkinson [Road Jail] so that they can get back together and carry on with their life in Ladysmith on the boat,” said Potter.
The family friend says Payton only agreed to have her location disclosed because she wanted her dad to be released from jail.
Bérubé acknowledges that the public, including media outlets, assisted in the process of locating Bryn, highlighting that everyone who participated “played a major role in the successful and positive outcome of this investigation.”