The father of Chelsey Gauthier is remembering his daughter as someone with a “very big heart.”
In an emotional video posted Saturday to YouTube, Ray Gauthier said his daughter loved happy faces, hamburgers, photography, crows and makeup.
Other family and friends posting online messages described Gauthier as a young woman with a “wonderful, energetic personality” and who was a “beautiful person inside and out.”
Ray Gauthier thanked people for the support that he and his family have received since the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) announced Friday that Chelsey’s body had been located in Mission.
She had been reported missing from Abbotsford in late July.
“Chelsey was an amazing girl. She loved so many people. She was fun. She loved to laugh. She was so gifted, and this is an absolute tragedy, but I am so confident that the police are going to do a phenomenal job on getting to the bottom of this,” Ray said.
In its announcement, IHIT stated that a body had been found Aug. 16 near Sylvester Road and Dale Road in Mission, and that a DNA analysis had confirmed on Thursday that it was Gauthier, 22.
Cpl. Frank Jang of IHIT said the death was “consistent with homicide.”
He said the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) investigation of the missing-person case led them to search the isolated area of Mission where Gauthier was located.
Jang said IHIT continues to work with the APD, Mission RCMP, the Integrated Forensic Identification Section and the B.C. Coroners Service to gather evidence.
“From the evidence collected so far, investigators believe that Miss Gauthier’s death was not random,” he said.
Police released no further details about the case, including the cause of death and whether suspects have been identified or arrested.
Gauthier, the mom of two daughters, ages two and three, was reported missing to the APD on Sunday, July 30 at 10:15 p.m. She had last been seen at around 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 27 at the McDonald’s restaurant at Bourquin Crescent West and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford.
At the time of her disappearance, police said she was known to frequent locations in central Abbotsford. She had not been active on social media for several days, and her friends and family were very concerned, police said.
A friend of Gauthier provided regular updates on Facebook, saying on Aug. 1 that police and helicopters had searched a “large, vast area” in which there was “strong evidence” that Gauthier was located.
The friend posted that the searches and the investigation continued for several days. Her last post, on Aug. 13, indicated that Gauthier had still not been found.
Her next post was dated Friday at 11 a.m., stating, “Chelsey Gauthier has been located. No further information that I am able to disclose may be posted online yet.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up by a cousin of Gauthier’s to help with funeral expenses and additional costs for her immediate family.
“We don’t know what happened to her, all we know is she’s gone and we will never have the chance to see her again,” the page states.
An update on the page on Aug. 26 thanks those who donated and says those who loved Chelsey want to remember her as the “fun-loving, caring young lady she was.”
“Hopefully, Chelsey can be an example to others and for someone to think twice with the people they surround themselves with.”
In a separate video posted on YouTube, Gauthier’s dad said the death was not accidental.
“Somebody did this to her, and the police are working on it right now,” he said.
He said he plans to start a foundation in Gauthier’s name to address “drug awareness,” blaming marijuana for her death.
“It killed my daughter … Her life was taken because of this stuff.”
Ray did not elaborate on these statements.
Anyone with information can call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-IHIT, email email@example.com, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.