One year later, there's still no sign of missing Ariel Kouakou
A year after his disappearance, there is still no trace of Ariel Kouakou.
The ten-year-old boy went missing from Ahuntsic-Cartierville on March 12, 2018.
Since then, there have been hundreds of tips and many searches and rewards offered and new efforts are being launched this week to find him.
The STM will display the boy's photo on screens inside metro stations on Tuesday and Wednesday. His photo will also appear on the CIBC's monthly billing envelopes in May.
The initiatives are in collaboration with the Missing Children's Network and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
“We have nothing,” said Pina Arcamone of the Missing Children’s Network. “We did not find any piece of clothing or an accessory that belongs to this boy. It's a total, total mystery.”
Ariel left his home on the morning of March 12, 2018 to visit a friend a few blocks away. When he arrived, the friend wasn't there – so he left.
Parents were not home when Ariel vanished
His parents were working that day. That evening, when they returned, and Ariel was not at the friend’s house and not at home, they called police.
“That's when everything goes into gear and the investigation starts,” said Andre Durocher of the Montreal police.
An Amber alert was issued the next day. It’s an exceptional measure, and because Ariel's disappearance didn't meet the standard criteria – with a description of a vehicle or a suspect – it was soon lifted.
Heavy snow made the search efforts more difficult. Police set up a command post as volunteers scoured the neighbourhood.
“It shows you how much the community in the area took this case at heart,” said Durocher.
Two days later, police released a video taken from a gas station on Gouin Blvd., showing Ariel walking past and looking over his shoulder.
No sign Ariel left park
Later, they said they had images of Ariel entering Parc des Bateliers along the Riviere des Prairies and said a woman had come forward saying she spoke to the boy in the park.
With no images of Ariel leaving the park, police went public saying he most likely fell into the river.
As the search continued with divers, helicopters, drones, dogs, horses and hundreds of volunteers, there was still no trace of the boy.
All along, his family believed he was abducted and appealed for his release.
The Missing Children's Network has been in touch with the family throughout what has been an agonizing year.
“This has been the longest and most difficult time for his family, and the nightmare is not over,” said Arcamone.
One year later, the investigators’ theory remains the same.
“There is a good possibility, we think he may be in the water because we can place him entering the park, but we cannot confirm him exiting the park,” said Durocher.
The renewed efforts to find Ariel help keep hope alive, said Arcamone.
“We need to remind the public that ten-year-old Ariel is still missing,” she said.
The public is invited to join Ariel's family and friends Tuesday evening at Saint-Joseph-de-Bordeaux Church, near Parc des Bateliers, where he was last seen. A mass will be celebrated for the boy.
- With files from The Canadian Press