7 years ago, a 17-year-old girl was lured away by someone she met on online. She hasn't been seen since.

Fatim Hemraj

Mekayla BaliPhoto byFacebook

17-year-old Mekayla Bali lived in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada with her mom, aunt, maternal grandmother, two younger siblings, and her dog, Angel. The aspiring vet was a student at Sacred Heart High School.

On April 12, 2016, at 6:41 am, Mekayla texted her friend Oksana and asked for a ride to TD bank. Oksana refused since it didn’t open till 8 am and they both had school that morning. Mekayla’s grandmother, Margaret, dropped her off at school at 8:20 am for what turned out to be the last time.

Mekayla never returned home and she missed violin practice at 4 pm. Her mom, Paula, contacted the school only to discover that she had missed all her classes that day. Paula called Mekayla but her phone went straight to voicemail. Frantic, she called the police and reported Mekayla missing.

What followed was an extensive investigation that tracked Mekayla via CCTV footage to several local businesses until suddenly, the trail went cold.

Mekayla entered the school at 8:21 am, put a binder into her locker, and left through a back exit at 8:26. From there, she walked to Terry’s Pawn and Bargain and tried to pawn a ring but the owner, Terry, refused to make Mekayla an offer because it was silver and according to him, of low value.

At 8:55 am, Mekayla arrived at TD bank and withdrew $55. For some reason, Mekayla told her friends she had $5,000 in her bank account but the investigation later revealed that she had significantly less.

Mekayla entered a Tim Hortons coffee shop at 9:10 am, ordered a drink, and sat down. She constantly looked at the exit as though she was waiting for someone and at one point, she took her phone apart and put it back together. At 9:23, Mekayla left the restaurant and spent the next 25 minutes checking around outside, all the way to the back of the building.

At 9:49 am, Mekayla walked back into the Tim Horton’s and sat down. It appeared as though she made several lengthy phone calls, however, none of them showed up on Mekayla’s phone. Investigators believe she used a third-party app to contact someone who clearly didn’t want to be traced.

At 10:12, Mekayla texted her friend, Shelby “I need help.” 20 minutes later, she sent a second text to Shelby that read, “Nevermind I figured it out.” She then appeared to make 6 phone calls, none of which showed up on her phone, and constantly scanned the room, likely looking for someone.

At 10:43, Mekayla approached an elderly woman seated near her and they had a short conversation. The woman later told investigators that Mekayla had asked for help in renting a hotel room since she was under 18. The woman refused at which point Mekayla made another call and then left.

According to an employee, Mekayla arrived at the now-closed Yorkton bus depot sometime between 11 and 11:45 am and asked for a ticket to Regina. When she was informed that the next bus wasn’t until 5 pm, Mekayla left without purchasing a ticket and texted Shelby, “I’ll see you at lunch.”

Mekayla did make it back to school in time for lunch but she never met up with Shelby. Instead, she approached two other friends and told them she was going to Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, for vacation. Mekayla told them that a man named Christopher was coming there to see her.

Investigators later tracked Christopher down in North Carolina. He turned out to be an online acquaintance of Mekayla’s through Instagram. His house was searched and he was ultimately ruled out as a suspect as there was no evidence he was in Canada when Mekayla went missing.

When asked about Mekayla, Christopher later told CBC News, “All I can provide for you is that she suffered with self harm a few years back. Back then I was helping those who struggled and I encouraged her to fight against self harm and to look towards God.” Mekayla has scars on one of her thighs from self-harm. She also made posts on Instagram that mentioned depression, and loneliness.

Yorkton has a population of fewer than 20,000 people and Mekayla often told friends she wanted to travel to Regina which has a population of more than 220,000 and in comparison is considered “the big city” — a place Mekayla yearned to be instead of her hometown. However, friends later stated they didn’t take her claim of vacationing in Regina seriously.

Mekayla left the school at 12:03 pm — for the very last time. She returned to the bus depot and had lunch at the adjoining Trail Stop Restaurant. She was last seen leaving the restaurant sometime between 1 and 1:45 pm. From there, Mekayla’s trail went cold and she was never captured on CCTV again.

Cheryl McDougall served Mekayla and recognized her from a missing poster a week later. In fact, she even spoke with another customer about Mekayla’s disappearance. A woman told Cheryl she saw Mekayla with a man at the bus depot that day. Cheryl called the police and a sketch of his tattoo was released to the public. The man quickly came forward and it turned out he didn’t know Mekayla. He had simply held the door open for her. Investigators ultimately determined that Mekayla never purchased a bus ticket and likely never got on a bus. She was never seen again.

Mekayla didn’t know who her biological father was and had never met him. Prior to her disappearance, she told friends she wanted to find him. A man named Rick Breit who lives in Saskatoon later came forward claiming he might be Mekayla’s bio dad. He told investigators that she never contacted him and likely didn’t know his name. Rick was also ruled out as a suspect.

Before she vanished, Mekayla also told friends she had been chatting with at least 4 different men online through the app Kik. Unlike Snapchat and Instagram, conversations aren’t saved by Kik and many people create accounts using false identities; Mekayla herself used different aliases. Kik has fewer parental controls and is notorious for aiding in s*x trafficking.

Paula believes her daughter was groomed and lured into s*x trafficking. Although friends said Mekayla always brought a purse to school, she was last seen with a backpack. However, Paula insists Mekayla intended to return home since she left behind her acne medication [Accutane], phone charger, and some cash she had saved in case of emergencies.

Mekayla hasn’t accessed her social media accounts or her bank account since April 12, 2016. Her phone was turned off the next morning at 6:51.

Mekayla BaliPhoto byFacebook

It has been nearly 7 years since Mekayla Bali disappeared. Today, she would be 24 years old. If you have any information, contact Saskatchewan RCMP at 1-844-880-6518. A $100,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information regarding Mekayla’s whereabouts.

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