by Colleen Flanagan and Roxanne Hooper
Family of a missing Maple Ridge pharmacist has hired a private investigator who is organizing a “large scale” hunt in mid-April – the current coronavirus outbreak postponing an extensive search effort for now.
Atefeh Jadidian, a 40-year-old Port Coquitlam woman, disappeared on Wednesday, Feb. 19, after leaving work at the Wellness Pharmacy, in the 22900-block of Lougheed Highway, at around 4 p.m. A short-time later, police determined that she left her car in a north Maple Ridge parking lot and was last seen walking east towards the Webster’s Corners neighbourhood.
Specifically, surveillance images released by Ridge Meadows Mounties a few days after her disappearance show Jadidian walking through the Save-On-Foods lot in the 24000-block of Dewdney Trunk Road, where her car was found a short time after she left work.
Then, the single woman was captured on video at about 5:30 p.m. that same day, just a few kilometres away, walking east in the 24800-block of Dewdney Trunk Road.
That’s the last that was seen of her.
Her family has been looking for answers to where she is ever since, and last week ramped up those efforts by hiring West Vancouver investigator and former police officer Denis Gagnon to augment search efforts already underway by police and local search and rescue.
The area of interest in the search, at present, is Maple Ridge and Mission “at this point,” he said.
“The fact that she left her vehicle in the parking lot of a shopping [mall], then [walked] east for several blocks is out of character,” Gagnon said. “[I’m] not aware that she was meeting anyone at Save-On-Foods as she was walking ½ hour east at 248 Street on her own,” he elaborated, noting they’re unaware of any friends or family who live in the vicinity.
“So far, there are several hypothesises being investigated, which will not be released so the investigation by BCSI Investigations and its private investigators is not compromised,” Gagnon said.
“It’s a highly fluid” situation, Gagnon explained, noting that the COVID virus has increased the complexity of a physical search “100 per cent.” Being unable to get a large group of people together to comb the area right now and hunt for Jadidian, the team has had to put off a mass search by several weeks – at least.
While it’s still not confirmed, Gagnon said he’s optimistic a search can be mounted on April 18 and 19 [two months after she disappeared]. He expects to put out a call for volunteers as the date gets closer.
For now, anyone interested in attending the searches must pre-register – noting the dates may change due to COVID-19 and social distancing, the investigator explained. To pre-register, people can call 604-922-6572, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.picanada.ca.
In the meantime, police have issued a call for any further witnesses – including those who might have dash-cam, home surveillance, or other information that could help track Jadidian’s subsequent action.
Further, a GoFundMe page has also been set up by her cousin, Saeed Fayazzedeh, her only family member in the country.
“Atefeh is a loving and caring individual who always provides help to others,” he said on the GoFundMe page.
“She is a hard-working pharmacist who cares about her patients and her community. She is an active hiker who loves new adventures. In her free time, she will surround herself with family and friends,” the Coquitlam resident wrote.
“We hired a private investigation company because we are really concerned about her, to find her as soon as possible,” said Fayazzedeh, adding that police can’t do everything.
“She is a very kind, smart and meticulous person. She cares a lot about her family, friends, her patients and all of the society,” he said adding that his family is devastated and miss her a lot.
“This is the worst time in my whole life,” he said.
The fundraising page initially went up March 11, but on March 22 was updated to say her family is starting the professional search. The fundraising goal was upgraded from $25,000 to $60,000 with the money earmarked for travel costs incurred by family coming from Iran during the difficult times, as well as the investigation, and eventual air and ground searching, Gagnon said.
As of today (Sunday, March 29), about $9,000 had been raised.
“Any contribution can be significantly helpful to bring Atefeh home,” read Fayazzedeh’s update.
Jadidian was last seen wearing a greyish ski jacket, black pants, a navy-and-light-blue striped shirt, dark-brown boots, and teal toque. She was carrying a silver lunch bag and reddish purse.
She is described as being of Middle Eastern descent, 5 ft. 5 in. tall, and 137 pounds, with shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes.
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