Jailed father feels ‘helpless’ in search for missing teen

The father of missing teen Makayla Chang desperately wants to help in the search for his daughter, but there’s one thing stopping him: He’s behind bars.

Kerry Chang has 33 days left in his six-month sentence for firearms-related charges. He has asked for a humanitarian release so he can be with his wife, who has been in agony in the three weeks since Makayla’s disappearance. His request has been denied, leaving him frustrated.

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“I feel completely helpless here,” said Chang, speaking on the phone from the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Saanich. “If I wasn’t imprisoned, there’s a very good chance this wouldn’t be going on right now, because she would be with me.” Chang feels he would have been able to protect Makayla.

Chang, who has been in and out of jail much of his life, was convicted of possession of a firearm contrary to a court order and taking or occupying a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Chang is honest about his drug addiction, the reason why Makayla, 16, was raised by his mother, Dolly Chang.

Chang said he and his wife, Janine Vaultour, who has also struggled with addiction, wanted to give Makayla the best chance in life.

Vaultour did not want to comment.

“She was not involved in drugs, not to my knowledge at all,” Chang said of his daughter. “I have been involved in the drug scene, so I would know if she was around that.”

Makayla was last seen on March 17 in downtown Nanaimo. She has not been heard from or been on social media since then.

Chang is fearing the worst.

“Without a doubt in my mind, she’s being held against her will or she’s been killed,” he said. “I hate to think the latter, but time is critical right now.”

Chang said he and Vaultour lost their first daughter to sudden infant death syndrome 20 years ago. “So this is quite overwhelming, to have to go through this again.”

He said he met Steven Bacon, the man Nanaimo RCMP believes has information on Makayla’s whereabouts, a year ago.

Chang said Bacon told him that Makayla reminded him of a daughter who died and whom he called “baby bird,” a pet name he was known to call Makayla. However, Bacon’s daughter Allison said he’s long been telling this falsehood, that she is dead.

“I said: ‘Stay away from my daughter, I don’t like what you’re about,’ ” Chang recalled. “Over the months he was able to manipulate my daughter.”

He worries that Bacon tried to step in as a father figure to Makayla.

Makayla has two older half brothers, one of whom was arrested because he was parked outside of Bacon’s house for four days when Nanaimo RCMP were searching for Bacon. “He was sitting in a truck waiting for this guy to come home. The police were also watching. They arrested him and took him into custody.”

On April 6, Mounties located Bacon and spoke with him. Police have not said where he is or whether he co-operated with investigators.

Bacon has not been charged.

Chang said Makayla was honest with her parents, confiding in them when she smoked pot. “We had a relationship where she knew she could come to us with anything, especially her grandmother.”

He said Makayla has supportive friends who care about her. “They were a tight group of friends and there’s a big hole there with her gone.”

Chang said the last time he saw Makayla, right before his jail sentence started, the two went shopping for hair dye. Makayla loves to change her hairstyle and was experimenting with her identity, sometimes wearing her hair short and dressing in men’s clothes.

“We walked the Swy-a-Lana Lagoon, got some ice cream, just enjoyed our time,” he said. “She’s my daughter and I love her with all my heart.”

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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