Ex-boyfriend denies role in Squamish teen's disappearance
'She's a really smart girl and I just hope she's found': Young man on probation tells of Bowen Island party, encounter
By Laura Stone, The Province
July 2, 2009 8:34 AM
The young man who believes he was the last to see Jodi Henrickson before she disappeared admits he'd been ordered not to go near her.
That's the story being told by her ex-boyfriend, Gavin Arnott, as the search for the 17-year-old Squamish girl moves into its second week.
"According to the police, I was the last person to see her, which puts me in a really bad spot, 'cause it makes me look like I did something," Arnott, 20, told The Province yesterday.
Arnott said he had passed out at a house party on Bowen Island and was awakened by Jodi, who was also at the party.
At around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 20, they walked along Miller Road toward Arnott's father's house. He said he and Jodi talked tensely for a few minutes, and he left without looking back.
She hasn't been seen since.
Arnott said it was the second time Jodi had contacted him since he was given a conditional discharge June 5 for assaulting her April 8. He said the fight in April started when she threw a motorcycle helmet and a computer monitor at him.
"At that point I jumped on her, and grabbed her and dragged her out to my front door."
A court sentenced Arnott to 18 months' probation. He was ordered to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend, whom he'd dated for a year and three months.
Arnott said that the first time they saw each other after he was sentenced they met at a Brackendale park near Squamish. He said Jodi tricked him into meeting her.
"She yelled to me, 'If you don't talk to me, I'm going to tell the police you did talk to me,' " he said. "She kind of blackmailed me into it, but I didn't have a problem with it, either. I really missed her a lot."
After their encounter on Bowen, Arnott said, "I didn't see if she walked off, or what happened.
"She'd been talking earlier that night about, like, me taking my dad's truck and running away with her, but she was drunk, right, and I don't know if she would have actually carried that out or not."
Arnott said he was questioned for about eight hours that day by police, who brought him to tears when they accused him of hurting the girl he says he still loves.
Squamish RCMP Cpl. Dave Ritchie said yesterday that an ex-boyfriend of Jodi's attended the same party as she did on the night of June 19 and into the next morning. He did not name Arnott, or confirm that he was the last to see her on the island, although he said the girl was spotted sometime between 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. June 20.
Ritchie also said the ex-boyfriend had been interviewed by police. No charges have been laid.
As for the ex-boyfriend's apparent breach of probation for being in contact with Jodi, Ritchie said: "That'll be looked at during the investigation."
Yesterday, helicopter, dog and search-and-rescue crews continued to look for the teen. Ritchie said the investigation remains focused on the island, although they're "exploring the possibility" that she may have left. He added police have looked at video from the Bowen ferry terminal.
Tiffany Sweet, 17, who claims she is Jodi's best friend, said the teen told her she was going camping with friends but went to Bowen instead.
Sweet thinks her friend, a soon-to-be Grade 12 student from Howe Sound Secondary, may have tried to hitchhike to Horseshoe Bay.
"She likes to meet new people and she's not shy that way, and she could have met just the wrong person and thought they were friendly," she said. "She was really flirty."
Another friend, Chelsea Armstrong, added that Jodi also had friends in West Vancouver and Whistler.
Jodi's brother and her cousin, Crystal Henrickson, said it was unusual for the teen to be out of touch, especially with her mother. She was also active on Facebook, and has not logged on since she vanished.
They also said their family did not approve of her relationship with Arnott. "He's supposed to be thrown in jail if he talks to Jodi," said Rob.
Arnott said his ex-girlfriend would sometimes fight with her family, and that she lived with him and his mother for a month or so, about half a year ago. As for the family's opinion of him, "I don't think they're very fond of me, because of what happened on April 8."
He added: "After the sentencing on June 5, I've learned a lot. I've always walked away from a fight."
Asked by The Province whether he had anything to do with Jodi's disappearance, he replied forcefully: "No, I didn't."
Arnott said he's been in touch with some of her friends in hopes of finding her. "I'm really worried about Jodi," he added. "I'm hoping she's safe and everything. She's a really smart girl and I know she's probably safe and I just hope she's found. I wouldn't do anything to hurt Jodi again."
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