British Columbia

Father denies son involved in B.C. teen's disappearance

The father of one of the last people to see a 17-year-old Squamish girl before she went missing on Bowen Island almost two weeks ago says his son had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Friends say Gavin Arnott was drunk, out of control the night ex-girlfriend went missing

Randy Arnott says his son, Gavin, had nothing to do with his ex-girlfriend's disappearance. ((CBC))

The father of one of the last people to see a 17-year-old Squamish girl before she went missing on Bowen Island almost two weeks ago says his son had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Jodi Henrickson was last seen around dawn on June 20 on the island, where she had attended several house parties. She was reported missing four days later when she failed to come home to Squamish, approximately 60 km northeast of Bowen on the mainland.

One of the last people who might have seen Henrickson was her former boyfriend, Gavin Arnott.

According to court documents, Arnott, 20, was charged with assaulting Henrickson in April.

The Bowen Island resident entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 18 months' probation, one of the conditions of which was that he have no contact with Henrickson.

He's not the bad guy, says father

Arnott's father, Randy, said the news has suspicion running rampant on the tiny island northwest of Vancouver.

The situation has gotten so bad, he said, that he and his family no longer feel welcome because of suspicious glares from other locals.

Jodi Henrickson was last seen at a house party on June 20 on Bowen Island. ((Facebook))

"It feels that we're being looked at and accused, and we've almost been held up in our own house, like, not wanting to go out in the public [because] people are looking at you that your son's the bad guy, which I don't believe he is," he said.

Arnott said the assault is being blown out of proportion.

"Even the original charge was a misdemeanor as much as anything, and they had been getting along since then, so I don't think that the way it's been portrayed is relative to the way it looks."

With the suspicion surrounding the family, Arnott said his son has been staying off the island with a family friend.

"He just doesn't know, but he was the last that saw her, and he's very scared right now."

Arnott said his son admitted he and Henrickson got into a fight the night she disappeared, but the younger Arnott insisted he walked away – and that was the last time he saw her.

Arnott 'a little bit crazy,' says friend

However, friends say the young man was drunk and out of control the night Henrickson went missing.

Derek Sinke (left) and Khole Dallas say speculation is running wild on Bowen Island. ((CBC))

"[Gavin] almost drove into the house… and we pulled him out of the car and duct taped him to a pole so he couldn't drive anymore," said friend Khole Dallas.

"I've known Gavin my whole life and I don't think he could ever do something like that, but at the same time he is a little bit crazy, I would say. I wouldn't say crazy, but he's different."

Derek Sinke, who attended the same party as Arnott, said the younger Arnott had always been odd.

"You never know what someone's capable of," Sinke said. "He's a little different to start out with, you know, so it kinda adds to speculation on the whole incident."

Sinke said Henrickson's disappearance has put the close-knit community on edge.

Meanwhile, the police search for Henrickson, which included helicopters and ground crews, was called off Thursday. Officials said it would only be resumed if new information came to light.