Island mom determined to find missing daughter

Since her daughter went missing in November 2017, a Parksville mother says she has been obsessively searching for information that might lead to her whereabouts.

Barbara Gilmour, whose 36-year-old daughter Carmel Gilmour was last seen on Nov. 14, 2017, believes someone knows what happened to Carmel. The police officer investigating Carmel’s disappearance agrees.

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“It’s difficult because we have so little information to go on,” said Const. Greg Nardi of Oceanside RCMP, the primary officer on the case from the beginning. “I think there’s someone somewhere who knows something.”

Carmel has two children: Gavin, 19, and Dayna, 8. Both children were in government care when their mother disappeared. Dayna now lives with her father, and Gavin has aged out of care, but continues to live with his foster parents, Gilmour said.

The last known person to see Carmel was her boyfriend; the two had been fighting, and Carmel dropped him off from her van in the parking lot of Little Mountain, near Parksville, on Nov. 14, Gilmour said.

Nardi would not confirm this information, but said Carmel was last seen about 11 p.m. that day.

Her vehicle was reported to police as abandoned in a public parking lot on the waterfront in Qualicum Beach on Nov. 21.

The individual who reported it said they first saw the van about noon on Nov. 15, Nardi said. He said police are particularly interested in any information about Carmel in the roughly 13 hours between when she was last seen and her van being spotted the next day.

The van was unlocked, and there were no signs of a struggle, Nardi said. Carmel appeared to have been living in the vehicle, and most of her belongings were still there, except her wallet.

Nardi said RCMP have investigated tips that have come in over the 20 months since Carmel disappeared, but are no closer to figuring out what happened.

The case remains active, and Nardi believes it is solvable. “Usually, I think there are people who know something. For someone to just disappear like that without a trace is a little out of the ordinary.”

Gilmour had had a strained relationship with Carmel since she was about 14, when Carmel started using drugs and moved out of her mother’s house. “She was a beautiful person when in her right mind,” Gilmour said.

Gilmour last saw her daughter about two weeks before she went missing. Gilmour remembers that Carmel was afraid of some people, but believed at the time that it was drug-induced paranoia. Gilmour said Carmel had been seeking treatment for her drug use at a care facility in Parksville at the time of her disappearance. She wishes she had been able to get Carmel into treatment sooner.

“There’s a drug crisis in Parksville. People are dying constantly,” Gilmour said.

Gilmour goes to the local soup kitchen twice a week just to listen to people, in hopes of hearing something about her daughter. She speaks to people living on the street in case they know anything.

“I keep my ears wide open and my mouth wide shut,” she said.

The day before Carmel’s 38th birthday, on June 20 this year, Gilmour posted in a Parksville-area Facebook group asking for anyone with information about her daughter to come forward. She received a message from a woman who thought she had seen Carmel in a bookstore in Victoria about six months before, so Gilmour travelled down to investigate. She took photos and posters, but the store owners didn’t seem to know Carmel.

Gilmour said it’s difficult not knowing what happened to her daughter. “On a scale of one to 10, it’s a 12,” she said. “It’s kind of like the tide. You know, the tide comes in. I hear something from someone, so I pursue that — sometimes obsessively.”

Anyone with information about Carmel can contact Oceanside RCMP at 250-248-6111.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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