The remains of Australian woman Alison Raspa have been recovered nearly four months after she was first reported missing, confirmed Whistler police.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 16, members of the public notified Whistler RCMP that they had spotted what they believed to be human remains floating in Alpha Lake. Members of the RCMP, Whistler Fire Rescue, and the BC Coroners Service attended and confirmed that human remains were found at the north end of the partially frozen lake.
Five separate searches of the lake were conducted in the weeks following Raspa's disappearance. But conditions at the time made it near impossible for divers to find Raspa, explained Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes.
"If I remember correctly, the divers at the time reported that there was almost no visibility in the lake. It would have all had to have been done by hand, by feel," he said. "When you're looking in a lake of that size, you could literally miss something by millimetres."
Although police have not confirmed the cause of death, authorities say it does not appear suspicious.
Raspa, a 25-year-old native of Perth, was last seen leaving the Three Below Restaurant just after midnight on Nov. 23, a rainy night when temperatures hit a low of six degrees Celsius.
It's unclear whether Raspa was impaired at the time: Three Below's owners declined to comment on her level of intoxication, if any, following her disappearance, as did the RCMP.
Investigators have pieced together that she spoke with a friend on the Village Stroll before boarding a Whistler Transit bus to Creekside, which was captured on CCTV footage. At approximately 1:15 a.m., she texted friends she was lost.
Both Pique and police have received separate unconfirmed reports that Raspa had a habit of sleeping in Alpha Lake Park during the summer months.
Adding to the puzzle is the fact that several of Raspa's personal items were found in two separate locations near the lake: her cellphone was recovered in Alpha Lake Park the morning after she was last seen, and her backpack, wallet and jacket were found at the intersection of Highway 99 and Lake Placid Road.
Hayes said investigators believe it was no accident that Raspa discarded her belongings.
"I think it was her choice," he said. Hayes would not elaborate when pressed further, declining to comment until the BC Coroners Service investigation is completed.
"I'm trying to inform the public of what's going on ... while still remaining respectful of the family in this terrible time of their life," he added. "Until such time that the Coroners Service can conclusively come to a determination as to (the cause of) death, while not suspicious, I don't think there's anything more I can say at this point."
Anyone with more information is asked to contact the Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044. Anonymous tips can be sent to Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or solvecrime.ca.