Death of 15-year-old Indigenous girl on Vancouver Island deemed suspicious but not homicide

Carsyn Mackenzie Seaweed, 15, went missing in Duncan, B.C., on Vancouver Island and was found alive but weak near the Trans Canada highway the next day. Police say she died a short time later. (Provided by Marie Seaweed - image credit)
Carsyn Mackenzie Seaweed, 15, went missing in Duncan, B.C., on Vancouver Island and was found alive but weak near the Trans Canada highway the next day. Police say she died a short time later. (Provided by Marie Seaweed - image credit)

RCMP in North Cowichan/Duncan, about 60 kilometres north of Victoria, say they are investigating the circumstances surrounding 15-year-old Carsyn Mackenzie Seaweed's death as suspicious — but her death is not considered a homicide by investigators.

Carsyn, who is from the Namgis Nation and the Cowichan Tribes, was found in the 5300 block of the Trans Canada Highway on May 15. RCMP said the B.C. Ambulance Service was called after she was found "in a semi-conscious state under suspicious circumstances," and that she died a short while later.

"RCMP investigators are satisfied that the death is not a result of a homicide, which is also being investigated by the B.C. Coroners Service, the Mounties said in a statement.  "However, the circumstances surrounding her death are considered suspicious, and a criminal investigation remains ongoing."

The day before, Carsyn was with her mother, Marie Seaweed, in Duncan for a soccer tournament. Carsyn told her mother she planned on taking the bus home to Mill Bay but called her mother around 25 minutes later, saying she had changed her mind and would stay in town.

Seaweed said she became concerned when her daughter stopped answering her phone that afternoon, and her phone battery eventually died. She drove through town for several hours looking for her daughter.

The following day, Seaweed saw posts on social media indicating that the body of a young woman had been found behind a Super 8 Hotel off the highway. The person who found the body described the scene in a post and later shared those details with Seaweed.

"It was way off the trail, and she was covered with a wooden pallet and garbage and twigs like someone was trying to hide her. And they said that they didn't know this girl, and they wanted to post on Facebook to see if they can find her parents. And someone sent it to me, and so I messaged this guy, and I said, this is my daughter," said Seaweed.

Submitted by Marie Seaweed
Submitted by Marie Seaweed

Seaweed said the man who found her told her she was alive and scared, her skin was hot to the touch, and she began having a seizure.

Seaweed, who lives in Sooke, said her daughter was healthy and had no history of drug or substance use.

"They tried everything, everything in their power to bring her back, but she was too weak, and they said her organs were failing. And they said it could have been because she was in that heat because it was like 35 degrees up in Duncan that day when she was hidden under all that stuff," said Seaweed.

'Extreme priority and concern'

In a statement issued on May 25th, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP said that "due to the nature of how she was found, an investigation was initiated to determine the circumstances that led to the girl's death, including a thorough scene assessment by the RCMP Forensic Identification Section and the B.C. Coroners Service, toxicology analysis and other medical examinations."

"From the onset, this investigation has been led by the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP General Investigation Section and treated with extreme priority and concern."

RCMP say they are unable to provide more medical information under the Privacy Act but asked that the public avoid speculating on the cause of her death.

Provided by Marie Seaweed
Provided by Marie Seaweed

Seaweed said she has been left with few answers about why homicide is not suspected in her daughter's case, despite the circumstances she has learned about her death. She also questioned why an initial news release issued by RCMP said there was no criminality suspected in her death.

"My daughter didn't put herself under the pallet, under the garbage, under all of those things. She did not do that herself," she said.

Seaweed said her daughter was a funny and independent teen who loved to watch her favourite hometown soccer team and cherished time with her grandmother, siblings and baby cousins. She said Carsyn dreamed of travelling the world, becoming a nurse, and adopting children.

"It's affected all of us so deeply and we just want answers because my daughter Carsyn, she didn't deserve this, she was only 15 and she had huge plans for her life," she said.

"Her passing away left a huge hole in my heart. And her passing away, it's left all of us lost."

The Cowichan Tribes wrote in a statement on Thursday that it has been providing support to community members in the wake of Carsyn's death.

"The safety and well-being of Quw'utsun Mustimuhw (Cowichan people) and vulnerable populations in our region is a top priority for me and our entire Council," said Chief Lydia Hwitsum in the statement.

"Too many of our community members have experienced the unspeakable loss of a family member at a young age. We need to work together community-wide to combat crime and demand safety by reporting any and all suspicious activities to the RCMP."