Family hires private detective to find missing mother
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The family of a Winnipeg woman who’s been missing for more than a month has hired a private investigator to help find her, while growing increasingly worried about her safety.
Gabrielle Marsden, 39, was last seen on the 400 block of Dufferin Avenue near Salter Street in the North End on Dec. 7, her loved ones say.
It’s out of character for Marsden, who is homeless, to go so long without contacting or visiting relatives in Winnipeg, especially during the holiday season, said her daughter Zolla Marsden.
“I’m very worried. I’m trying not to think the worst,” Zolla said Friday. “I’m hoping she is out there. That’s all I want to know, if she’s alive, at least. She’s at high risk for anything.”
Marsden’s sister has hired private investigator Janie Duncan, president of Winnipeg-based Duncan Investigations, to help raise awareness about Marsden’s disappearance and pursue potential leads.
Duncan said all relevant information she gathers will be forwarded to the Winnipeg Police Service missing persons unit, which is handling the official investigation.
“This is not something we’re doing on our own,” she said.
A search involving Bear Clan Patrol members is scheduled to take place Sunday if Marsden, who also goes by the first name Gabby, isn’t found before then.
Her relatives and Duncan are using social media to generate awareness and encourage people to come forward if they have information that could help to find her.
Duncan said she has interviewed several people so far.
“I’m very worried. I’m trying not to think the worst… I’m hoping she is out there. That’s all I want to know, if she’s alive, at least. She’s at high risk for anything.”–daughter Zolla Marsden
“We’re getting a lot of feedback,” she said. “We’re seeking information from the public right now, and it’s working.”
Duncan said she is acting as a liaison between Marsden’s family and police, who issued a public appeal for information about the missing woman’s whereabouts Thursday.
Police said they are concerned about Marsden’s well-being.
Details of her disappearance were circulated online by Bear Clan Patrol earlier this month.
In July, police transitioned to a process where some missing persons alerts are issued through the North End organization.
Duncan, a private investigator for more than 30 years, said she is regularly hired by families to look for loved ones who are missing.
She is hired early on in some cases, and later on in others while a family is still looking for answers.
“They want answers quickly,” said Duncan, whose experience includes investigations into everything from homicides to domestic or workplace matters.
Zolla, meanwhile, was preparing Friday to print and put up posters in the North End. She hopes her mother sees one and gets in touch with relatives.
“I hope she’s just wandering around and can’t get ahold of people,” she said.
Zolla has been driving around parts of Winnipeg to look for Marsden, checking homeless shelters, bus shacks and places her mother was known to frequent.
“I went everywhere I could possibly think of, and (found) nothing,” said Zolla. “It’s just weird. She normally gets in touch.”
She said her mother didn’t contact or visit family during the holidays last month, which is something she always does.
Marsden often changes her hairstyle or hair colour, family members say.
“She is always out and about,” said Zolla. “She talks a lot. She’s charismatic.”
Marsden lost her toes and a finger after suffering severe frostbite about three years ago, her daughter said.
Zolla has been stressed and struggling to sleep while worried about her mother’s well-being.
She urges anyone who has seen Marsden or has information about her whereabouts to come forward.
“The smallest details will mean so much to me,” she said.
Police said Marsden is 5-3 and has a thin build, short brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information is asked to call the missing persons unit at 204-986-6250.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.