A possible sighting of missing Yorkton teen Mekayla Bali in Alberta is giving her family a fresh glimmer of hope that they’ll all be reunited.
Bali was last confirmed to be seen the morning of April 12, 2016 at a Yorkton bus depot.
On Aug. 8, her mother, Paula Bali, said she received a tip from a man who believes he spoke to Mekayla outside a bar in Edmonton in March.
Paula said it wasn’t until months later when he saw a poster with Mekayla’s face on it that he connected the dots.
“He came onto our Facebook page, looked around and looked at the pictures (of Mekayla) and goes, ‘Yeah, I’m pretty confident that’s her,’ ” Paula explained Thursday.
The tipster told Paula he was outside The Highrun Club in Edmonton, having a smoke during a pool tournament, when he struck up a conversation with a woman who looked like Mekayla.
“He said he had this vague feeling of her just being out of place there,” Paula said. “His recollection is that she did use her name and introduced herself as Mekayla.”
Paula noted her family and police have received hundreds of tips since her daughter went missing 3 1/2 years ago, but this one feels different because of how the tipster described the interaction.
“He said she was very sweet, very kind, very gentle, naive — those kinds of traits that he described to me seemed very much like how Mekayla was,” Paula explained.
Even though this tip feels like it has an added layer of tangibility, Paula said she’s not getting her family’s hopes up just yet.
“There’s a point when you’ve got to prepare your heart that, yes, this may be good information but we have to wait and see,” she said. “It’s that wait-and-see part that’s the difficult thing.”
The Saskatchewan RCMP confirms that it has received this tip and says it’s working with Edmonton police to investigate it like the hundreds of others that have been received over the years.
Paula said posters with Mekayla’s face on them are circulating around Edmonton, and police there have searched places like homeless shelters where she might be.
“(The tip) was back in March, so I’d like to have a tip that’s a little more current — that’s really what we’re looking for, and if there’s any possibility it really is her,” Paula said. “Somebody has to know something. Someone can’t disappear.”