The Japanese tourist who went missing nearly two weeks ago is now presumed dead, though there’s still no indication of foul play, say RCMP.
It’s believed that Atsumi Yoshikubo, a 45-year-old doctor from Uto in southern Japan, “arrived in Yellowknife with a plan to go into the wilderness alone and become a missing person,” said RCMP spokesperson Cst Elenore Sturko in a press release Monday morning.
EDGEYK.com has learned it was believed she was in possession of some wilderness survival gear before she was last seen trekking alone along Highway 4 past Jackfish Lake on Oct. 22.
“Investigation also revealed that Yosikubo took steps to avoid being found,” said Sturko.
It’s unclear what evidence led police to conclude she disappeared intentionally and covered her tracks. Sturko would not comment as the file remains open.
This is now a Coroner’s Act investigation, though the RCMP will still follow tips regarding Yoshikubo’s whereabouts. The coroner’s office will get involved if remains are found, said Cathy Menard, Chief Coroner of the NWT. Before that, there’s little Menard’s office is able to do.
Yoshikubo’s disappearance was reported to the police last Monday after she failed to check out from the Explorer Hotel and missed her flight home on Oct. 26. According to other media reports, hotel staff found her luggage in her room, where she was staying by herself, three days after she was supposed to have checked out.
The report triggered several days of intense search and rescue operations – with police and volunteers scouring the woods around Yellowknife and helicopters hovering above treetops and half-frozen lakes. After four days, the search on foot was called off and police began combing further north using aircraft equipped with infrared tracking devices.
Sturko said there was an outpouring of support from Yellowknifers wanting to join the search and rescue operation.
“I was walking on my break downtown in my uniform, and I had three people come up and offer their help in the search,” she said.
There were also a number of people organizing their own search parties through social media.
The incident garnered significant media coverage in Japan, and five news crews working for Japanese TV flew to Yellowknife.
The RCMP is asking people to report any information that may lead to the discovery of Yoshikubo’s remains and say they’re continuing to work with the Japanese consulate.