EDMONTON -- Friends and family of a missing Indigenous teen that was last spotted in North Edmonton are pleading for help to bring her home.

Celeste Lacendre Napope, 14, was last seen by a friend in the area of 146 Avenue and 117 Street on May 24, Edmonton Police Service said.

Thursday evening, about 200 people gathered in Kinsmen Park to pass out posters and say prayers, before splitting into groups and spreading out in an effort to search all parts of Edmonton.

“Absolute hell,” relative Lorna Cardinal said when asked what her family has been going through.

“I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone, not my worst enemy, nobody deserves this pain.”

Police Questioned About Response

Cardinal told CTV News Edmonton that Lacendre Napope has never been missing before, and she criticized police for issuing a news release more than a week after officers were first called.

“We have no faith in EPS. Nine days to report a 14-year-old? That’s not right,” Cardinal said.

A spokesperson for EPS confirmed the timeline of the public release but said officers began looking into the case “right away.”

“Detectives work through a series of investigative steps before a media release is issued and the length of time this takes is unique to each situation,” Carolin Maran said in an email response.

Lorna and her sister Marilyn Cardinal said that they provided police with more than 500 “sexual” and “predatory” messages that the family discovered when they searched Lacendre Napope’s texts and Instagram messages.

“I’m just really scared that one of them has her.” Marilyn Cardinal said of what she read. “I just want her to come home.”

Friends checking ‘bad places’

Lorna Cardinal thanked the dozens of volunteers that took part in Thursday’s search, and said other people are looking as well.

“The good thing is that a lot of these people on the streets are Indigenous. They understand. We always have that connection with culture. They’ve been helping, they’ve been looking, they’ve been scouring nonstop checking these bad places,” Cardinal said.

The initial police release said it was out of character for the teen to be away from home this long and there were concerns for her well-being, but “foul play” was not likely.

“The EPS Missing Persons Unit continues to actively investigate all of the tips that are received. The EPS also continues to communicate with Celeste’s immediate guardians regularly and will keep them and the media apprised of any further developments,” Maran wrote.

Police provided this description of Lacendre Napope:

  • Indigenous
  • 5’3” tall and approximately 128 pounds
  • Long, straight, light brown hair and brown eyes
  • Last seen wearing blue jean shorts, a black/silver/grey top and black and white Nike runners
  • Often wears one earing and is currently wearing black nail polish