In an increasing effort to keep the spotlight on Naomi Onotera’s disappearance, friends of the Langley City woman held a vigil in her honour more than a week after she was last seen.
One of those friends was Tia Poy, who has known Onotera for 25 years.
“The goal of the vigil was to really bring hope and awareness to the community regarding Naomi’s disappearance, and to provide support to her friends and family,” she said.
“We are all devastated and heartbroken, we just want her home. I miss my best friend.”
About 200 people gathered at Sendall Gardens – just up the street from Onotera’s 50th Avenue home, on Sunday around 7 p.m. to light a candle for Onotera, friend and colleague Maryann Eyjolfson estimated.
“It was beautiful and well attended,” she said.
“A pastor who went to school with Naomi’s sister spoke and said a prayer to ignite hope that Naomi will find her way home. Two of her friends spoke as well, sharing how emotional this time has been and how they appreciate everyone’s efforts to help find Naomi.”
A former kindergarten teacher at Katzie Elementary, Onotera has been a teacher-librarian at the Surrey school for a number of years now, said Eyjolfson, who works there with Onotera.
In addition to attending the Sunday night vigil, Eyjolfson has also actively searched for her friend in parts of Langley.
“We are trying to spread as much awareness as possible,” she said.
“We need people to be on the lookout for Naomi and to provide any video surveillance or dash-cam footage they may have from her area on Saturday or Sunday.
“Naomi is a professional, well-respected member of our school community. She is a mom, daughter, friend, niece, aunt, teacher, and so many other things and she is needed at home.”
Onotera was last seen leaving her home in the area of 200th Street and 50th Avenue in Langley City on the evening of Saturday, Aug, 28.
The investigation into the 40-year-old’s disappearance was turned over to the Langley RCMP’s serious crime unit on Sept. 1.
Police are continuing to ask anyone with information on Onotera to contact them at
“Any speculation on social media about what people think may have happened is not helpful to the investigation or the furthering of the investigation,” said Cpl. Holly Largy, media spokesperson with Langley RCMP.
“So at this point, we need to gather information from people about what they know and what they’ve seen, not what they think.”
Video footage has been sent to the RCMP since they put a call to the public, Largy confirmed, but she also asked those who have not reviewed their recordings to do so.
“I still encourage people to to give us any video they may have,” she said.
Since Onotera was reported missing 11 days ago, the search efforts have intensified.
Last week, the RCMP helicopter was called-in and seen searching the Nicomekl floodplains, as well, the Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue (CFVSAR) crews were involved in two separate ground searches.
“Our initial search was the morning after she was reported missing,” said James Roe, interim president of CFVSAR, adding they were requested by RCMP again on Sept. 2.
The community isn’t leaving the investigation to the authorities either, Eyjolfson noted.
A six-day-old Facebook group organized by Trina Hunt’s cousin-in-law Stephanie Stella on Aug. 31 has gained nearly 5,000 members. Stella said she wanted to support Onotera’s family as she understands their anguish. Hunt was reported missing in January.
Individuals in the group regularly post when they will be heading out on a search and which areas have been covered. Members of the group are asked to use the Gaia GPS app to track locations that have been attended.
“We will continue to organize searches and put up posters for as long is needed,” said Eyjolfson. “Groups are searching daily.”
She asks that the public remain vigilant.
“Keep sharing her story publicly in case somebody has information that can help bring Naomi home,” she concluded.
Onotera is described as 5’9” tall, weighting 150 lbs, with long brown hair and brown eyes. RCMP first issued a missing person alert for her on Aug. 30.
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