'Praying for a miracle': Family members anxiously waiting for safe return of missing Whitby mother and daughter
TORONTO -- Family members of two missing Whitby women are anxiously waiting and praying their loved ones will be found safe and sound after Durham Regional Police said the pair disappeared under suspicious circumstances Thursday.
Officers arrived at the home of Ava Burton, 58, and her 85-year-old mother, Tatilda Noble, on Thursday afternoon after they were called by a concerned family member.
On Friday, police said evidence of something suspicious was found in the home located on Scepter Place, just metres from the border with Oshawa.
Marcella Guthrie is the cousin of Burton’s late husband who passed away from cancer in May. She said she and Burton have a close personal relationship, and has been visiting her frequently since the spring to help and provide support.
“Very shocked and concerned for their safety,” said Guthrie, adding they’ve received very little information about the ongoing case. “We’re just waiting for some kind of information, some kind of closure because this is very hard to go through on a daily basis.”
The forensic identification unit worked at Burton and Noble’s home over the weekend and into Monday.
Guthrie encourages anyone with information or video related to the investigation to come forward.
“We want them to come home. If anyone has seen them out there, contact the police,” she said.
Guthrie said she took Burton to a family event on Sept. 25, and last spoke with her on Oct. 10. She said there was no indication anything was off. “Just like happy Thanksgiving. Hope all is well and she said, ‘All is well. Thanks. Love you’. Said love you back. Talk to you in a week.”
“She loves the Lord, as you can indicate there is a big heart in front of her house,” said Guthrie. “She’s just a loving person, so is her mom and the family, very quiet, you know helpful, caring.”
Richard Rodwell is Guthrie’s husband. He said the family is grieving, wants closure but, at this point, has been given no update on whether they are believed to be alive.
“Whether it’s a good outcome or a bad outcome, it’s the not knowing. I mean if there is some really bad news, which nobody is wishing for of course, at least we know, and we can try and get on with some sort of normal lives. It’s turned everyone’s life upside down,” Rodwell said.
“They wouldn’t hurt a fly. There isn’t a bad bone in Ava’s body … a very spiritual person and this is extremely difficult.”
Rodwell said, with the passing of Burton’s husband, she had just started to go out again and regroup. Now with the pair missing, it’s another hard blow to the family.
“We’re just waiting anxiously and just praying for a positive outcome,” said Guthrie. “You see it on the news all the time, that peoples family are missing and you feel so sorry for them and you think how can they cope with that, and now it’s in my backyard.”
Guthrie said Burton lives at the home with her son and her mother. She said cousins, siblings and other close relatives are panicking, nervous and worried.
“We’re just praying for a miracle.”
Sonya Sykes is a first cousin to Burton’s late husband and last saw her at a family gathering in the summer. She said like other relatives, she is in shock. She said Noble moved in with the family in November of 2020 so the family could care for her.
“There is a great sense of helplessness,” she said. “We’re praying for her return and her mom’s return and everyone’s well being.”
Sykes said the family is large and close-knit, and when something happens to one of the cousins, they all feel it.