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Cortney Lake’s disappearance now a homicide


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) major crime unit are now investigating Cortney Lake’s June 7th disappearance as a homicide.

RNC spokesman Const. Geoff Higdon speaks to reporters Friday as police declared the Cortney Lake case a homicide.

At a news conference today (Friday), RNC spokesman Const. Geoff Higdon said police have received more than 100 tips from the public and 12 officers have been assigned to the case.

There are several people of interest in the case, Higdon said. He added there is no evidence to believe the public is in danger, but he could not say for certain.

He said Lake's family is "handling this as well as possible" and have been very helpful and co-operative and supportive.

The family, meanwhile, provided a statement to the media.

"Our hearts are forever broken. Cortney has been taken from us in the worst way imaginable.  We are horrified and devastated as we think of what her last moments on this earth might have been. We will not rest until we bring Cortney home," the family said.

"She must be found. We need to be able to say goodbye in a way that is fitting for our beautiful girl. It is difficult beyond anything we have ever experienced to know that she has left this earth — but we also know that her beautiful soul is shining with a light that could never be extinguished by the evil act of a murderer.  We hope justice is swift and strong, imposing the harshest punishment possible to the person(s) responsible for her death.

"Our family is very thankful for the overwhelming amount of support we have received over the last three weeks and for all the information that has come forward to assist the police in their investigation.  We implore the public now to come forward to police with any additional information or video footage that can help us find Cortney."

The RNC have released this dash cam footage in the Cortney Lake case.

Higdon said investigators are aware of social media speculation and rumours, but have tuned it all out as "white noise."

He noted the investigators on the case are extremely qualified and it's not their first homicide investigation.
Cortney Lake was previously believed to have been last seen on June 7 at 7:52 p.m. walking away from her home on Wellington Crescent, as recorded by a residential security camera.

Since the RNC’s last appeal for information, investigators have received new images from a vehicle’s dash-cam of Lake getting into a black GMC pickup truck on Michener Avenue (nearby) at exactly 7:54 p.m.

 Tips from the public so far have been key and led to a significant amount of evidence that has led investigators to believe that Lake was murdered, Higdon said.

"There's a substantial amount of evidence that's been gathered in a very complex investigation. The investigative team has been working around the clock in some cases on evidence, on tips we've received, on information like we've released today. Obviously ... there's more information we cannot release because we have to protect the integrity of this investigation. There has not been an arrest made. Without speaking to what the evidence was, I can say the investigative team is satisfied... that this investigation is a homicide," Higdon said.

"The biggest thing I really want to get home to the public ... is if you have any video out there, please go back through it. No amount of detail is too small. If you have something that could bring us to the next timeframe or bring us closer to locating Cortney Lake, we would definitely appreciate that."

Related stories:

Neighbours suggest police search of St. John’s home linked to Cortney Lake’s disappearance

RNC releases more information on missing woman Cortney Lake

Vigil held in Mount Pearl for missing woman Cortney Lake


Police say they believe Lake may have been conveyed to a secluded, wooded or less traveled area within a short drive from where she was picked up.

The RNC is asking the public to come forward if they witnessed a black GMC truck the evening of June 7 after 7:54 p.m. in any of the areas of interest.

This camouflage Browning Deer logo is on a truck sought in the Cortney Lake case.

The truck has a Browning© camouflage “deer head “decal on the passenger side of the back (truck pan) window.

Police are asking anyone who may have been on the roads in and around Mount Pearl, Outer Ring Road, Galway Development or the Trans Canada Highway and have a dash cam to review footage.

Meanwhile, on the day Lake was reported missing, her ex-boyfriend — Philip Steven Smith — was given a suspended sentence and time served after spending six days in jail.
He was convicted of assaulting Lake, breaching a peace bond to have no contact with her, breaching probation and breaching a recognizance. He was also convicted of dangerous driving and was given a one-year driving prohibition with probation.

Smith is currently in custody awaiting a bail hearing on charges laid this week.

Some of the charges are breaches of probation related to allegations of contacting Lake’s mother unlawfully.

He has not been charged in Lake's disappearance or homicide.

A black GMC truck — with a camouflage deer head decal — matching the one the RNC is looking for footage of was seen being towed from Smith's property Wednesday, the day police executed a warrant on a house on Alice Drive, St. John's.

The RNC confirmed a truck was towed from the Alice Drive property, but won't comment on its description or who owns it.

They also haven't confirmed it's Smith's house they were searching, but Telegram reporters have confirmed through court documents that the property being searched is his address.

Anyone who has information pertaining to the Cortney Lake homicide investigation is asked to contact the RNC at 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can now provide information anonymously on the NL Crime Stoppers Website at www.nlcrimestoppers.com.

With files from reporters Rosie Gillingham and Tara Bradbury.

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