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The Disappearance of Shelley Desrochers

The Disappearance of Shelley Desrochers

 

Case File Overview

 

43-year-old Shelley Desrochers was last seen on January 2, 2016. A police officer in London, Ontario spotted her in the Old East Village area. Shelley’s family reported her missing on January 21st, 2016.

Shelley is a white female, 5’2″ (157 cm), 130 lbs (64kg), with a medium build. She has long brown hair, hazel eyes, and a distinctive walking style described as being “pigeon-toed.” Shelley also has a tattoo of a rose on her left upper arm and a heart and a bluebird tattoo on her right upper arm.

Although London Police Service has received over 180 tips in Shelley’s disappearance, she remains missing.

Shelley Desrochers

Photo of missing person Shelley Desrochers
Image source: London Police Service 

Case File Theories

The authorities are considering several possibilities in Shelley’s disappearance. But there isn’t much evidence pointing towards any particular scenario.

Ran off to start a new life

One theory is that Shelley may have left London to start a new life. This is unlikely for several reasons. Money that Shelley was expected to access from a bank account on January 29, 2016 remains untouched. Why wouldn’t Shelley use whatever funds available to make a fresh start? Shelley is a mother of three children and a grandmother. Would she willingly break all ties with her family? Also, in this digital age, it’s just much more difficult for people to disappear. Although I hope Shelley is off somewhere enjoying a new life, I don’t think it’s probable.

Accidental death

The police and media have highlighted Shelley’s “high-risk lifestyle.” Shelley’s struggles with drug addiction and her sex work could have played a role in her disappearance.

Before we go any further with this theory, we need to discuss the phrase “high-risk lifestyle.” The executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre clarified why this term is offensive. Megan Walker said, “It implies that the women themselves are at fault for what may happen to them because they have pursued or consented to be in a high-risk lifestyle.” Language can carry with it implied judgments, and this is crucial to remember.

Shelley may very well have died from an accidental overdose or some other type of unintentional mishap. Since her body hasn’t been found, if this is the case then someone could have panicked and covered up her death.

Met with foul play

Megan Walker also stated, “If a woman goes missing from the sex trade, it should be given the highest priority, because time is not often on our side in those cases and we need to take firm and decisive action.” Every day that passes, the situation becomes more dire for Shelley. Shelley’s drug addiction may have caused her to make decisions that left her more susceptible to harm at the hands of another. Shelley’s sister Laura told the press, “She just ended up falling into a hole in her life, and she had lots of support around her. I think she just was struggling with trying to take that step to change her life.” Did Shelley’s struggles with addiction and her sex work make her a vulnerable target for a murderer? Very likely.

Shelley Desrochers

Photo of missing person Shelly Desrochers
Image source: The Missed Lives Project

What do you think happened to Shelley?

Shelley is loved and missed. Her sister thinks of Shelley daily, and describes her as “really caring, really friendly, very approachable.”

Shelley’s family has erected a commemorative bench for Shelley inside Springbank Park’s Rayner Gardens. Shelley enjoyed spending time in Springbank Park with her sister and rollerblading there, enjoying the beautiful setting. Shelley’s sister told the media, “At least now I have somewhere to come to remember her.”

Shelley Desrochers commemorative bench

Photo of Shelley Desrochers Bench
Image source: CBC News

Shelley’s loved ones and London Police Service are asking the public to please come forward with information. Shelley’s case manager, Detective Sergeant Alex Krygsman, explained, “We still need more from the community. We know that Shelley was well-known. She’s loved and we believe that there are people out there who have information that would assist us in finding her and explaining the circumstances around her disappearance.”

The London Police Service tip line is 519-660-5842, or anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Related reading

Shelley Joy Desrochers – London Police Service case overview

“Shelley Desrochers: Two years after London woman was last seen, city police mount new blitz for leads in the case”London Free Press article

“London police renew search for missing Shelley Desrochers”CBC News article

Interested in missing person cases? Check out the disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel and the vanishing of Bradley Allan Taylor.

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2 Comments

  1. Nancy Nancy

    Thank you for posting what you did about the term “high risk lifestyle.” Not only does it seem to make the public and media seem to stop caring about a person when sex work or drugs become involved. No one deserves harm. No one is less deserving of justice because of personal demons. Her poor kids. I hope justice is found soon.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Nancy. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your feedback, and I couldn’t agree more. The power of language is often overlooked in crime cases. I try my best to be kind, fair, and non-judgmental. As you mentioned, every human being deserves to live a safe life. Here is hoping that Shelley is located soon. Take care and thanks again.

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