Nova Scotia

Family of dead N.S. teen asks for privacy

Amber Kirwan's family released a statement Sunday on the RCMP confirmation that remains found on a property in Pictou County were those of the 19-year-old.

Amber Kirwan's family released a statement Sunday on the RCMP confirmation that remains found on a property in Pictou County were those of the 19-year-old.

"It is with overwhelming sadness and grief that our worst fears were realized yesterday. Our beloved Amber will not be coming home to us. Words cannot express the sorrow and sense of loss we feel."

The family asked for privacy and directed all questions to RCMP.

Police confirm remains found Saturday were those of 19-year-old Amber Kirwan. (Submitted)

Investigators were executing a search warrant Saturday in connection with Kirwan's disappearance, when human remains were found on a wooded farm property.

The property is about a half hour drive from Dooly's pool hall in New Glasgow, where Kirwan was last seen. Kirwan was from the New Glasgow area.

She had told friends Oct. 9 at about 1:30 a.m. she was leaving to meet her boyfriend, Mason Campbell, at a convenience store nearby.

Campbell told police she never arrived there.

Police cars block both ends of Heathbell Road Sunday morning. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

Campbell has been interviewed twice by police about her disappearance, and his car was seized. The couple had lived together for four months.

On Sunday morning, both ends of Heathbell Road were blocked by police.

Volunteers with Pictou County's search and rescue teams were seen combing the sealed wooded area around the road. Heathbell Road has just a few houses and a sheep farm.

One neighbour told the CBC's Shaina Luck that behind the police barricades there's nothing but woods and an old lane.

The area was searched extensively for two days about three weeks ago.

RCMP would not confirm the cause of death or who owns the property.

Kirwan's remains have been taken to the medical examiner's office in Halifax. The medical examiner was able to identify the remains by visual means.

A community mourns

New Glasgow has a population of just under 10,000. The town has been papered with posters noting Kirwan's disappearance since she went missing.

Reactions, condolences and outpourings of grief came fast on social media sites Sunday.

There were dozens of posts on Twitter within minutes of RCMP confirmation and multiple posts on Facebook. There were at least 12 Facebook pages dedicated to Kirwan's disappearance.

New Glasgow resident Sherry Blinkhorn raised thousands of dollars as a reward for information on the case.

Blinkhorn, whose son knew Kirwan, told CBC News that while the community was "devastated," she was touched that so many people in the community tried to find the teen.

"I'm very proud of our young people because they had put up numerous, many, many posters and placards and billboards, and they're out right now taking them all down to spare the family from having to look at all the missing posters," Blinkhorn said.

"I'm pretty proud of the kids right now that they're thinking of the family and they're coping in their own way."

Blinkhorn first put up $1,000 of her own money, then raised it to $5,000. On Friday, she held a fundraiser, and by Saturday, thanks to donations from the community, the reward was raised to $15,000.

She doesn't know whether the reward brought a tip to police.

She said she decided to raise the money after seeing her son come home late every night from searching for Kirwan.

"They've all been driving themselves crazy living with the guilt that they didn't walk with her that night," Blinkhorn said. "This community has been rocked, torn upside down. There's not a family here that's not upset or affected by this."

In their grief, the Kirwan family showed gratitude.

"We would like to thank the people of New Glasgow, Pictou County and beyond, who have supported us during this tragedy. We would also like to thank the police services, search and rescue groups, businesses and many others who worked so diligently to locate Amber."