Hilary Bonnell still missing

16-year-old Miramichi resident has been missing for six days, RCMP have few leads

ESGENOOPETITJ - It's every parent's single worst nightmare, and for the past six days Pamela Fillier has been living it.

Fillier's 16-year-old daughter, Hilary Bonnell, hasn't been seen or heard from since early Saturday morning. With each passing day, the physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted mother becomes more certain that this isn't simply a case of a teenage runaway.

Bonnell was last spotted just after 7 a.m. Saturday on a video surveillance camera at the Four D's convenience store in her home community of Esgenoopetitj First Nation after attending a house party during the night.

The last communication anybody had with her though, a chilling text message sent to her first cousin later Saturday morning, has Fillier convinced that her daughter is in immediate danger.

According to Bonnell's family and the cousin who received the text, the missing teen indicated that she was scared and wanted to get away from wherever she was.

Fillier said her daughter, like many teenage girls, is constantly texting her friends and family to maintain a line of communication.

She said Bonnell's cellphone likely either ran out of batteries or was turned off after that last message because all attempts to reach her thereafter were unsuccessful.

"I'm drained, empty, frustrated, I think I'm ready to snap and go on some wild rampage," said Fillier.

"She better come home safely, for the sake of the person that's doing this to my daughter ... that girl is my world."

Fillier said that her daughter never had any reason to run away from home, noting that the two of them had an extremely open relationship and that Bonnell, no matter where she was, always kept her mother up-to-date about her location and when she'd be home.

"I'm not a mother to run away from; that little girl asks for something and she's got it -- she's my diamond," she said.

"She would tell me things I didn't even want to hear, and then she'd giggle and say 'Sorry mom, I just don't want to lie to you.'"

Bonnell's cousin, Haylie Bonnell, was with the missing girl the night of the party and received the troubling text message the next morning.

Haylie said she's very worried about her cousin's safety, noting that Bonnell didn't have her purse, makeup, or any cash on her when she left the party.

She also said it was strange that Bonnell's cellphone was mysteriously turned off after she tried to contact her after receiving the text.

"Her cellphone is her life, it's just not like her," said Haylie.

"And she'd never leave for this long without her purse and her makeup. She would never do that," added longtime friend Chelsea Somerville.

Susan Ward, Bonnell's aunt, said Bonnell was supposed to stay the night at her house on the reserve after the party.

Ward said Bonnell sounded upbeat when she contacted her from the party that night. She said her niece has an extremely trusting and outgoing personality, sometimes to a fault.

"She's outgoing and naïve; she's gullible in a way that as long as you're smiling and polite, she'll talk to you," said Ward. "But what she doesn't realize is that people can be (trustworthy) one minute and then change the next minute."

Ward, Fillier, Haylie and Bonnell's friends yesterday said that a suspicious pickup truck has been seen in the community recently with the male driver reportedly making inappropriate comments to girls.

The information has been forwarded to the RCMP.

District 8 RCMP spokesman Francois Poirier said investigators are wading through several other pieces of information taken from people in the tight-knit community, but said there's still nothing concrete to go on.

A team from the Tri-County Ground Search and Rescue arrived in Esgenoopetitj yesterday morning and organized a search party for most of the day, scouring every nook and cranny of the first nation community.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans aircraft with infra-red capabilities could be seen performing flyovers throughout the afternoon.

Poirier said the RCMP Tech Crime Unit in Fredericton is busy examining activity on the girl's cellphone and Facebook page.

He said K-9 Units have yet to be brought in because investigators haven't been able to uncover a single piece of evidence that would carry a scent for the dogs to track.

"It's a missing person's case, and we're looking at all possibilities right now," he said.

"We have to work every lead we have as fast as we can, but we don't have any timeline arranged so we just have to go with the flow."

Poirier said Mounties are co-operating with the Miramichi Police Force, who has been executing neighbourhood checks and roadblocks in the city.

Although originally from Esgenoopetitj, Bonnell lives with her mother in Miramichi and is a student at Miramichi Valley High School.

Bonnell is 5-5 and weighs about 134 pounds. She is aboriginal and has long black hair and dark brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black sweater, purple T-shirt, blue jean shorts and flip-flops.

n Anybody with information is being asked to contact RCMP Const. Joany Paradis at 779-5682 or the RCMP Neguac Detachment at 776-3000.

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