In the expletive-ridden comments section of TheDirty.com, a popular website that trafficks in trashy party photos and gangland gossip, facts are malleable and every post is suspect.
But as the months have ticked off since Kelly Rideout was last seen alive, the words contained in one particular post have become icy with the spectre of death.
July 18, 2011. 8: 12 a.m.
"Bugsquisher says: 'ha ha ha ha ha ha-.. sounds like your days are numbered, Kelly, poor poor, LOSER. One, Two-people coming for you. Three, Four-better shut your door. Five, Six-grab your crucifix. Seven, Eight- gonna stay up late. Nine, Ten-.never breathe again--.ha ha ha ha ha ha'"
Wanted to turn her life around
The sun was shining on July 10-eight days before the ominous message was posted-as Rideout left her sister's home in Alberta for what was supposed to be just a temporary trip back to B.C.
Rideout, 35, had stayed with her older sister Natalie for several weeks, spending much of her time with her four-year-old daughter. When she departed, it was supposed to be temporary. Rideout, an addict for the majority of her 35 years, told her older sister Natalie that she was determined to turn her life around, kick the addictions that had haunted her for nearly two decades, and reconnect with her young daughter.
"She said to me, I'm going to get my life together, I'm going to move here to be with Alyssa, I got to go back to get my stuff and I'm going to come back," Natalie told the Times. "And that was her plan."
Rideout called Natalie once she reached Vancouver, and promised to talk later. But it was the last time the sisters spoke. On August 8, after failing to hear from Rideout for nearly a month, Natalie filed a missing person's report with Chilliwack RCMP .
"Kelly goes a couple of weeks, maybe at most a month, and then she reconnects," said Natalie. To go so long without speaking to her daughter raised warning flags.
An RCMP spokesperson would say little about the case to the Times, except to say that the investigation remains open. While Rideout is considered a "missing person at risk," the Mounties have not publicly asked for information on her whereabouts.
"We're still actively investigating her disappearance," said Const. Tracy Wolbeck. "No new leads or information have been uncovered."
Asked why no public call for information has been made, Wolbeck would only say, "We're not in a position to talk about that at the moment."
But Natalie (who didn't want her last name used) says police have told her more.
"They think that she's dead," said Natalie, who said the case will likely soon be forwarded to homicide investigators. But while the police fear the worst and Natalie sounds inclined to believe them, her heart holds out hope.
"It's hard to accept because there's no body, nothing," she said. "Nobody's talking. She just up and disappeared."
Words from Kelly's journal
"Words from Kelly about the addict: You want out but it wont let you cause you are always looking for that next rush and then everything else before that is forgotten, because doing the dope you no longer feel. Once you no longer feel you're on the road to rock bottom. But you don't feel nothing because of the dope. Then you lose everything because of the dope and you feel like you have nothing to live for and that feeling is the worst feeling ever so you use again so you don't feel and you feel better for that moment but when you come down you fall hard. It's a constant battle and I cant seem to break free I just cant stop,"-from Rideout's journal. Written in December 2009.
Addictions brought her legal troubles
Rideout was troubled at an early age, says Natalie. Having rebelled against her adopted family, by the age of 14 she was living in group homes, and by 16 she was addicted to drugs.
The two sisters were always close, however, and when Natalie moved west to British Columbia in the early 1990s, Rideout soon followed.
The pair lived together in Surrey for a time and Rideout studied to finish high school. But after Natalie gave birth to her son, Rideout began to drift into a circle of new friends in Surrey. She met a man, with whom she would live for four years, have two children and move to Chilliwack in the late 1990s.
But while Natalie says Rideout was doing "OK" during this time of her life, she hadn't shaken her addictions.
Still, Natalie said the two sisters would talk regularly.
"The only time I never really heard from Kelly was when Kelly was doing a lot of drugs," said Natalie, who lived in Chilliwack and elsewhere in the Lower Mainland before moving to Alberta three years ago.
"She was an everyday user," said Natalie. "When she was trying to get clean is when she came to see me. But she didn't last long."
When the sisters met, they would spend time doing the sort of things siblings do together when reconnecting. They would go shopping, go to the mall and play with each other's children. They'd chat but Rideout would tell her big sister little about her troubles. The only names she dropped were those of men in her life.
"It's just weird how she kept connected to me her whole life, but she never told me anything about what was going on."
Rideout never had a real job and would eventually give birth to five children-none of whom lived with her in 2011. She bounced around the Fraser Valley, but Natalie said "She would always go back to Chilliwack."
All the time Rideout would be scribbling away in her journal with a gel pen. (The journals are now in the hands of the RCMP .)
"She was an awesome writer," said Natalie. "She had journals, and she wrote poetry and she wrote to her children on their birthdays. So she did have love there right. She was a loving person."
But Rideout could never shake her demons: drugs and bad company.
"She was very co-dependent on men too," said Natalie. "It's hard with Kelly. She had anxieties with people."
Court records show that Rideout's addictions and the world in which she lived increasingly put her at odds with the law.
In July 2003, she was arrested for possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking. She was handed a conditional sentence but was arrested in 2005 for breaching the conditions of the sentence, and in 2006 for breaching her probation.
In May of 2009, she was arrested during a raid on an Osoyoos drug house in which police found methamphetamine, ecstasy pills and crack cocaine. While she escaped new drug charges, she pleaded guilty to breaching an undertaking.
On May 6, 2010, Rideout was charged with identity theft, unauthorized use of credit cards, possessing instruments to forge credit cards, possession of stolen properties and breaching an undertaking. She is still scheduled to go to trial on all counts in May of 2012.
And this spring, Rideout, Brad Young and Greg Rusk Jr. were charged with break and entering and possession of stolen property of under $5,000. Rideout was scheduled to make her first appearance in court on Aug. 29. A warrant for her arrest was issued when she never showed up. Meanwhile, on Sept. 25, Rusk died. His cause of death has not been disclosed.
Linked to another case
The few names Rideout did mention to her family tend to make frequent appearances in Chilliwack courts. In 2003, for instance, an ex-boyfriend of Rideout's was charged in connection to a home invasion alongside a noted Chilliwack gangster. (The case eventually ended in the ex-boyfriend's acquittal.)
But it's another acquaintance-a convicted drug dealer currently serving jail time for fleeing a police officer just months after being convicted for a variety of property and drug crimes-who has drawn much of the attention.
Not only was the 30-yearold man-who can't be named because he hasn't been charged-Rideout's drug dealer, but the family of Deano Paus believe the dealer is responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the slain Chilliwack man's murder last year.
Different tales have been floated about why the dealer may have facilitated Paus's death and it's hard to separate rumour from fact and truth from inference. But the persistence of the dealer's name in the rumours leave Paus's family certain of his involvement.
"There's so many different stories," said Loreal Bale, Paus's sister. "The commonality in all of them is [the dealer]."
So when the Paus family heard through the grapevine about Rideout's death, and saw her name mentioned alongside the dealer's on TheDirty website, the Paus family instantly thought of their son's suspected killer.
"I don't believe in coincidences," Bale, told the Times. "There's too many coincidences here."
Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) spokesperson Jennifer Pound would only say that no arrests have yet been made in Paus's murder.
"It is very much an active IHIT investigation," said Pound, "therefore, I am not able to speak to details such as Persons of Interest or Suspects at this time."
Somebody needs to talk
It is humanity's persistent search for answers to even the most trivial of questions that distinguishes us as a species. And so the families of Kelly Rideout and Deano Paus scrape their memories for clues and the Internet for rumour to try to answer a simple question: "Why are they gone?"
Paus's body was found earlier this year, but it's only been in the past month that his family received his remains from police. His murder remains unsolved.
For Rideout's family, there is even less to go on aside from snippets of information and the prattle of online message boards.
On June 19, Rideout posted on Google Buzz: "All u goofs in the wack can go f---yourself."
Rideout also told her sister that she "was getting sick of the Chilliwack bull."
But the deeper issues behind the complaints-and possibly Rideout's death- remain confined to the realm of speculation and innuendo.
"Even the police aren't saying nothing," said Natalie. "So whatever she was tied up in, it wasn't good, obviously. I don't know. I just thought maybe, if we put something out there, 'Hey does anybody know anything contact us, let us know.' Because people do eventually talk."
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