The mother of Ashley Koftinoff, who had gone missing from a psychiatric facility in Kamloops on Monday, is glad to see that he has been found and will soon be returned to the facility.
Gwen Chernenkoff-Pegg, who hails from Castlegar, spoke to the Castlegar News on Friday and wanted to thank the community for their well wishes and support.
Koftinoff was found in Invermere on Thursday after calling his mother and leaving a message. She contacted the Invermere RCMP and notified them that he was there.
"He had had several passes that day and that last pass he decided not to come back," she said.
Chernenkoff-Pegg had spoken to her son earlier that day (Monday, July 16) and says he sounded calm.
"He seemed to be fine," she said. "He didn't seem agitated or anything. He wasn't talking poorly of the facility or anything. He was fine."
Chernenkoff-Pegg was informed by the facility (Hillside Psychiatric Centre) in Kamloops that Koftinoff had not returned. She contacted local media outlets to ask for help in locating her son. He was eventually found on Thursday (July 18) outside A&W in Invermere, where he was taken by Police without incident.
Chernenkoff-Pegg wanted to dismiss some of the rumours surrounding her son.
"There's been so much negative publicity about him," she said. "People in Castlegar that know him, and know him well, know that he wouldn't hurt anybody. They know he's sick and normally he's a pretty even-keel kind of guy."
When asked why he might have fled, Chernenkoff-Pegg suspects her son may have had difficulty dealing with an upcoming trial.
"I spoke to him and asked him what had happened, 'Were you overcome by your illness?'," she said. "He couldn't really describe what had happened to him. It just happened. 'I just freaked out.'"
Koftinoff suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which he normally takes medication for.
"He has gotten sick recently," she said. "I'm not really sure why, other than that he was starting to feel the stress of the upcoming court case."
Last summer, Koftinoff was approached by out-of-town police officers and arrested on drug charges as part of a sting operation.
"Over the last couple of months he's become unglued," said Chernenkoff-Pegg. "He's petrified of going to jail."
Koftinoff is currently being held in Cranbrook, as he awaits transfer back to the Kamloops facility.