A memorial of flowers continued to grow on Saturday near a downtown Nanaimo ravine where a woman’s body was found this earlier week.
The body of 27-year-old Amy Watts, who had been reported missing, was found in a small wooded ravine in the vicinity of Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on Thursday.
The discovery has left friends and those who knew her stunned.
“I just can’t comprehend it, that she’s gone. I just can’t. Took my breath away. I loved Amy like a little sister,” said the victim’s friend Aimee Chalifoux.
“I was literally, as they say, gobsmacked. Blew me away because people had been looking for Amy for a little while now,” said the victim’s friend Gord Fuller, who also runs the Nanaimo 7/10 Club and is a former city councillor.
Watts was reported missing to the Nanaimo RCMP on May 27 by her mother, who lives in Prince Edward Island, after she hadn’t made contact with her family since this February.
Her family told police the prolonged period of contact was out of character for Watts and according to friends, concern was high right away.
“You always expect the worst when you know that drugs and violence could be involved,” said Fuller.
Watts, who was originally from P.E.I. and had a history of drug abuse, had been working as an outreach worker in Nanaimo for years — helping marginalized people in the city’s downtown.
Friends said that she did it well.
“She was an incredible outreach worker, support worker. She worked at the women’s shelter for quite a while. Yeah she was going places with her career,” said Chalifoux.
That is until about a year ago — around the time the pandemic hit — friends said she returned to the streets and addiction that she’d gained an upper hand on.
“I think it was around the same time as COVID that she stopped working,” said Chalifoux.
“There was so much potential,” said Fuller.
RCMP are awaiting a forensic autopsy on the victim’s body to determine the cause of death but Watts’ friends fear the worst.
“There’s a strong indication due to past issues that violence was involved,” said Fuller.
“There’s a big part of me that really wants to believe that they [RCMP] are going to get to the bottom of this,” said Chalifoux.