Nova Scotia

Missing 14-year-old Indigenous girl found safe in Cape Breton

The 14-year-old Cape Breton girl who was missing for more than a week has been found safe. The teen from the We'koqma'q First Nation in Cape Breton who had been the subject of a lengthy search was found early Saturday morning, say RCMP.

'This made everybody's day today. She's coming home'

An RCMP cruiser in New Brunswick is shown in this file photo. Police say a missing 14-year-old girl from We'koqma'q First Nation was found safe around 1 a.m. Saturday in Cape Breton. (CBC)

The 14-year-old Cape Breton girl who was missing for more than a week has been found safe.

Veronica Martin, speaking on behalf of the girl's family, said everyone was "really, really happy" to have the teen returned home safely.

"There's like a weight lifted off my shoulders," Martin said. "All of us, the whole family, we're all so happy it's finally over with. She's home with us, she's alright, she's alive, she's well."

At about 11:30 p.m. Friday, RCMP Air Services reported a fire in an isolated location in the Canoe Lake area, where the girl was believed to have been.

RCMP officers on the ground made their way to the area. At around 1 a.m. they found the missing girl and the man she was believed to be with.

Located in wooded area

Both were taken into police custody without incident and taken out of the wooded area.

The girl has been released, but the man remains in custody. The investigation is ongoing and there are no details on pending charges.

The teen was last seen in Eskasoni on Thursday, Aug. 13. She was believed to be travelling with Darcy Dwayne Doyle, 47, of Mira Gut, according to RCMP. 

Martin said the whole ordeal was "really scary" for their family as they watched the search unfold.

"Nine days is too many days," she said.

The girl was taken to hospital where she was checked over and was determined to be physically healthy, although, "I don't know about mentally," Martin said.

Family member Lora Googoo said it has been hard going to bed for more than a week worried about the girl, but it was "pure relief" to get the news she was found safe.

Googoo said she was glad to see Doyle had been arrested because now he "can't run away."

Community called for Amber Alert

Her community, the We'koqma'q First Nation in Cape Breton, had been calling for an Amber Alert to be issued. The We'koqma'q band council had also offered a $5,000 reward for information that would help find the girl.

Coun. Steven Googoo has told CBC that Doyle manipulated the teen into leaving with him.

But police had said they couldn't put out an Amber Alert because her case didn't meet the criteria.

"The person has to be abducted and because of her age and her willingness to co-operate, she was not abducted on that day," Cpl. Lisa Croteau said on Wednesday. 

An emergency alert was sent out early Thursday to those in a specific region of southeast Cape Breton, where they believed Doyle and the girl were at the time.

They urged people in the Canoe Lake area to keep an eye out for the girl, who was believed to be in the area around 7 p.m. Wednesday on a green ATV.

Volunteers organized search

According to court records, Doyle is due in provincial court next month on an assault charge and has a number of past convictions.

He was also banned from We'koqma'q First Nation earlier this year.

Volunteers from various Mi'kmaw communities had organized their own search with 40 people and at least 25 all-terrain vehicles. That search was independent of police, but any tips that came in were forwarded to them.

Croteau said RCMP were working with the provincial Department of Lands and Forestry to get a helicopter to help, along with the RCMP canine team. Multiple Mountie detachments and Cape Breton Regional Police assisted with the investigation.

Googoo said she is thankful for the people who never gave up the search and regularly shared the teen's photo on social media.

"This made everybody's day today," Googoo said. "She's coming home."

With files from Blair Sanderson