Manitoba

Selkirk Bear Clan Patrol hopes to beat the snow in hunt for missing woman Miranda Belle

A day after Winnipeg police announced a 31-year-old missing woman is likely dead, members of Selkirk’s Bear Clan Patrol are organizing a search to find answers for Miranda Belle's family.

Police said Wednesday Belle is likely the victim of foul play, could have been taken outside Winnipeg

A search is being organized Thursday for Miranda Belle, 31, who was last seen in the middle of August. (Winnipeg Police Service)

A day after Winnipeg police announced a 31-year-old missing woman is likely dead, members of Selkirk's Bear Clan Patrol are organizing a search to find answers for her family.

Miranda Belle was last seen in the evening of Aug. 17 in Winnipeg's Grant Park area. On Wednesday, her family joined police to make an emotional plea for anyone with information about her disappearance to come forward so they can give her a proper goodbye.

"We all, as a family, want to bring my sister home … so that we can properly lay [her] to rest," said Belle's sister, Alexis Harvey.

Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver said police are nearly certain Belle is a victim of foul play, and said they suspect she was taken out of the city — although he declined to identify a specific community.

Now, Belle's family is hoping for closure — and that's exactly what Darryl Contois, who's helping organize Thursday's Bear Clan Patrol search for Belle in the Selkirk area, is hoping to find for them.

"Sometimes, it's a good outcome and sometimes it's not," he said. "You've got to prepare yourself."

Searching before snow falls

Contois said the group, which has joined forces with private investigation firm Duncan Investigations, is planning to search wooded areas and along the Red River to turn up anything that might help in the police's investigation.

He said the colder weather won't deter the search party, but he hopes they find something before snow hits the ground.

"The snow will cover up a lot of things that we [then] can't see," he said. "There could be evidence on the ground that might lead to [advances in] the investigation, or we might find something that's of interest to the police."

Contois has been involved in similar searches before, and said he gets the same odd feeling every time he starts a new one.

Police say a van similar to this is connected to the disappearance of Miranda Belle. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service)

"You don't know how you're gonna find them," he said. "You want to find that person, but you're scared to find that person, in a way that you might not believe.… It can get traumatic."

He said he hopes the search turns up some answers for Belle's family.

"I can't guarantee that we are gonna find [anything] but I hope we can, and put closure to this search and move on to the next," he said. "It's very heart-wrenching when you don't know where your loved one is."

With files from Caitlyn Gowriluk