"Without hope, there is nothing": Search for Ariel Kouakou, 10, continues Saturday
Search parties gathered at the command post in at Galeries Normandie Saturday morning, to continue searching for Ariel Kouakou, 10, missing since Monday afternoon.
Friends and family of 10-year-old Ariel Kouakou marched this morning. Portion of the route made its way from Ariel’s home to that of his friend’s house. Essentially retracing Ariel’s steps. Friends and family want Amber Alert to be in reinstated. @CTVMontreal pic.twitter.com/mJynNsfBci— Matt Grillo (@MGrilloCTV) March 17, 2018
On Friday night, hundreds of adults and children took part in a vigil as the fifth day of searching for the missing child to a close.
Volunteers spent the day searching for the boy and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.
Kouakou hasn’t been seen since leaving his Cartierville home to visit a friend on Monday afternoon.
He was reportedly spotted in surveillance footage taken at a local gas station.
Montreal Police have publicly denounced a series of "unfounded" social media posts claiming that Ariel was spotted with a couple in Halifax.
UPDATE: Montreal police confirm to #CJAD 800 that posts on social media about missing 10-year-old, Ariel Kouakou, being in Halifax are UNFOUNDED. | Don't share those posts. They distract from the ongoing investigation.— shawndearn (@shawndearn) March 17, 2018
Volunteers continue to comb the area around Kouakou’s home, speaking to those in the area and asking if anyone has seen any trace of the boy. They asked that anyone with information who doesn’t feel comfortable talking to police should seek out one of the volunteers and talk anonymously.
Volunteer Chris Wolf said he believes Kouakou was abducted.
“A kid cannot go missing without anybody seeing him or anything,” he said. “If he would have gone to play in the park and fallen in the river we would have found something, traces of his footsteps on the side of the river or something. The snow fell the other day so the snow is pretty much virgin there, untouched territory so you would see footprints but none of that. It all points to somebody that maybe took him or unfortunately did something to him.”
Other volunteers and family members say they don't believe the speculation that Ariel may have fallen into a nearby river.
On Friday, police continued going door-to-door and were on the river for a second day, using a boat equipped with sonar in an effort to find any trace of the boy.
Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant said police decided to move their mobile command post to Galerie Normandie, a nearby shopping centre Kouakou was said to visit.
Otherwise, Friday's search was largely a repeat of the day before as police continued to comb through the same area looking for any clues that could lead them to the boy's whereabouts.
Police spokesman Benoit Boisselle said officers decided to not widen the search perimeter, and spent the day going over the same territory in case something had been missed.
They've also been searching homes, interviewing witnesses and reviewing security camera footage as well as more than 120 tips from the public.
"Police are still on the scene, and still asking the population to give them any information they have regarding the disappearance," Boisselle said.
Ariel's loved ones have received many messages of support, including one from Dolores Soucy -- mother of Jolene Riendeau, a young girl from Pointe-Saint-Charles who disappeared in 1999. Her remains were found 12 years later, in 2011.
Soucy said she empathizes with the Kouakou family, and despite the difficulty, encouraged them to remain hopeful.
"Without hope, there is nothing," she said.
Staff members at the Berges-de-Lachine primary school have set up a fundraiser for Ariel's family so that they can concentrate their efforts on finding their son. So far they have raised $2,400.
Ariel is 140 cm tall and weighs 40 kg (4'7", 88 lbs). He has black hair, dark eyes, dark brown skin and speaks French.
He was last seen wearing a black hooded coat, grey pants, and yellow shoes.
On Saturday, the Kouakou family announced they'll be offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information about Ariel's whereabouts.
- With files from The Canadian Press