A music lover and a lifelong learner, Sladjana Petrovic embodied so much, say friends. She had an enduring thirst for knowledge and a kind spirit that touched many in Yellowknife.
Months after her disappearance in December, police announced on Saturday that Petrovic’s body had been located in a wooded area just off of the Pat McMahon Frame Lake Trail. Her body was recovered late in the evening on May 1, said Yellowknife RCMP.
The discovery brought an end to months of uncertainty for Petrovic’s friends and family.
Serbian-born, Petrovic had lived in the NWT capital for some 20 years, where she gained a small, close-knit circle of friends. She had no family here. Petrovic, 60, was last seen leaving her downtown apartment heading toward the Frame Lake area on Dec. 26.
Extensive searches, led by Yellowknife RCMP, turned up nothing. International inquiries to European authorities offered no clues as to her whereabouts.
Her sudden disappearance sparked a campaign, led by close friends and acquaintances, to find Petrovic.
Val Braden knew Petrovic for more than 20 years. Val, along with her daughter Carmen Braden and Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, set out to spread the word about Petrovic’s disappearance last winter. They held a news conference. They put up hundreds of missing person posters across town. Billboards bearing her smiling face were erected. They produced “Find Sladjana” buttons — distributed to Yellowknifers across the city.
They held their grasp on hope.
With the recent, tragic news, Val said friends of Petrovic can begin to move toward closure.
‘I’m glad that she was found. It’s not the result we wanted but I’m glad we know where she is,” Braden said.
Following the recovery of Petrovic’s body, Green, an acquaintance of Petrovic, said the development brings “opportunity for closure.”
“To have a resolution, even though it’s a sad resolution, is so much better than always wondering,” she said. “So I’m very grateful that she was found and I’m very grateful to the RCMP for their efforts to find her.”
After suspended searches and months of uncertainty, Green said friends and family knew they’d hit a wall in the search for Petrovic.
“We knew we’d kind of come to a stall at the end of January with no new tips. So we were hopeful when the snow started to go that we may learn something more. And we did, so as I say I feel that’s helpful to me and I’m hopeful it’s helpful to her family as well. Although there’s mystery around why she left her apartment and why she ended up where she did, we do know where she is so that’s helpful,” said Green.
Val said she’ll remember Petrovic as a “fun person” who was always interested in activities in the community.
“She loved her time at the English Language Learning and Activities that she had done over the years. She made lots of friends there. She enjoyed learning all the time. She enjoyed reading, music and tennis — all of those things for different people; she was involved in their lives in different ways,” she said.
She added that it’s too early to speak to plans for a celebration of life for Petrovic.