Wendy Bosma : A Mother's Story
In memory of vanished son, Kelowna mother shares online to help others.
Story by Dona Sturmanis
Fifty-two-year-old Wendy Bosma of Kelowna is on a mission. For over two years, she has been writing a blog dedicated to missing people of BC.
She documents those who have vanished over the years as well as those who are found. Other entries include a list of high-risk offenders living in the province and missing criminals. Wendy also posts articles of interest, such as the RCMP’s new website dedicated to missing people of Canada. As of February 4, this year, she’s had an astonishing 258,821 hits on her blog.
She also commandeers a Facebook page dedicated to the same topic, which now has over 900 followers. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of parents and relatives of missing people this way,” she says. “And keep track of what happens to them.
”Take the tragic case of Kevin Fry for instance. The 20-year-old man from Surrey went missing on New Year’s Day of this year. Three weeks later, his friends and family found his frozen body in a forested area of Surrey’s Fraser Heights neighbourhood. Sadly, his father had gone missing 13 years ago and was never found.
Then there’s Shelley Fillipoff, 26, who disappeared in Victoria November 28. Her mother, after a troubling sounding phone call with her daughter, flew all the way from Perth, Ontario to find her. After five weeks of intense searching, all Shelley’s mom had to say was “We have nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Not surprisingly, Wendy Bosma has a sad story of her own that motivates her to host her online sites and share news of missing people. Over seven years ago, her son Mike disappeared without a trace a week before his 26th birthday.
The Ordeal Begins
On the morning of January 10, 2006, Wendy received a phone call from Coral House, a transition house in Kelowna run by Interior Health, where her schizophrenic son had been staying. Mike had been released to Coral House five days earlier after spending the Christmas season in the psychiatric ward at Kelowna General Hospital because of a schizophrenic relapse--Wendy had admitted him.
From the age of 19, Mike suffered from this severe mental disorder, which is often accompanied by delusions and hallucinations. With medication, he had managed to slowly improve to the point of living independently until his relapse. Wendy was shocked when Coral House staff called her at work that morning. “They said Mike hadn’t come home the night before. I was stunned they had waited so long.
”At 9:30 p.m. the evening of January 9, Mike had decided to go for a walk from Coral House. “He was supposed to be back at 11 to take his medication, but he never came back,” says Wendy. She and her husband reported Mike missing to the RCMP, then drove around, checking places frequented by their son.
“At first I wasn’t even concerned,” says Wendy. “I was sure we would find him sitting at a Tim Horton’s or at the library, where he liked to go.” She became more anxious that evening and as the next day wore on, started contacting everyone she knew. The Bosmas spent all that night driving around Kelowna in search of their son, “meeting some pretty weird people at 3 a.m.”
Finding no clue, Wendy got home and sent out a “massive e-mail” about her missing son. “Then I contacted the media, got Mike’s name out there. The RCMP issued a press release and all the newspapers picked it up.”
Several days later, Wendy visited Coral House with a CHBC reporter and camera man to ask questions why they weren’t concerned when Mike did not return. “We just thought he needed some space,” answered a young girl on staff. Wendy’s visit to the transition house made the news.
When Mike had been missing for a week, Wendy got a “horrible feeling” in her stomach. She kept contacting any media that would listen to her and made it her whole goal to find her son. “It felt really strange hanging up posters with his photo on bulletin boards downtown,” she says. “I couldn’t have imagined this in my worst nightmare.”
Bridges and Beaches
After six weeks, the RCMP ruled out the possibility that Mike had jumped off the Okanagan Lake bridge, an act that some missing people in Kelowna have committed over the years. The RCMP said there was no evidence. “So we went under the bridge ourselves,” says Wendy, “to see if we could see anything. We ran into people who actually live under there.”
In February, 2006, Wendy’s other son, Dan, arranged for his friend, Jonathan, a Navy Seal, to dive under the bridge in search of Mike. He found nothing. In May of that year, a body was discovered during work on the Okanagan Lake bridge. Wendy saw it on the news. “We thought it was Mike because the body bag was big,” she grimly recalls. “It turned out to be another man from Quebec, who had gone missing the previous August.”
Since then, other bodies have been found in the Okanagan—none of which has proven to be Mike. When detached human feet starting showing up on beaches of the lower mainland six years ago, the police wanted to know Mike’s shoe size.
The Sorrow Never Subsides
Wendy says Mike’s disappearance hit everyone in her family “really hard....it was emotional, heart-wrenching. I’d wake up in the morning and for a second, I wouldn’t remember and then it would hit me again.
“I’m still in shock that this would happen to us. We did a lot as a family and we really notice Mike’s absence when we’re all together,” says Wendy. “I don’t think we’ll ever find him. I guess I will never know what happened to him. If someone had found out, we would have heard about it by now.”
Wendy says life is relatively back to normal after Mike’s disappearance. “However, you never really get over it, but you learn to live with it. Whenever a body is found or remains, your hopes get raised.”
Wendy wants to point out that a missing person is not mourned less because they had problems like her son’s schizophrenia. “You don’t spend less time looking for them. He’s still our son and he’s still not here.”
For More Information Wendy Bosma’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MissingPeopleBC
Wendy Bosma’s blog on missing people of BC: www.wenswritings.wordpress.com
RCMP website for missing people in Canada: www.canadamissing.ca
Unsolved murders and missing people from Canada: www.unsolvedcanada.ca