One month to the day after Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou vanished from a north Montreal neighbourhood, his family urged the city and police to do more to pursue the theory that he was abducted.
Frédéric Kouakou, the father of the 10-year-old boy, fought back tears as he told reporters that he refuses to give up hope that his son will be found.
“I express today my profound sadness, my profound sadness after one month, 30 days . . . 30 long days, 30 long nights without my son — with no news, with no clues,” he said.
“I would like focus on hope. Our comfort today is hope, hope that we will find Ariel.”
Ariel disappeared March 12 after he left his home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville to meet a friend. There has been no sign of the boy since.
His parents have repeatedly said they believe their son was abducted, while police have publicly said their primary hypothesis is that the boy fell into the nearby river.
His father repeated that he has seen no evidence showing his son went near the river and it would not be like the boy to do so.
Today, he called on Montreal’s mayor to set up a special squad to investigate suspected child abductions in the immediate moments after they are reported missing.
Montreal police have faced criticism for not ramping up their efforts in the hours after Ariel disappeared. An Amber Alert was issued, but it was later called off because, police said, the case did not meet the criteria to maintain the alert.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante later defended the actions of police.
Police spokesperson Insp.Ian Lafrenière has said the case remains a priority, even though the search of the river was halted earlier this month.
Montreal police have not commented on the family’s push for more resources today.
River search turned up nothing
Police officers, the boy’s family and volunteers have repeatedly canvassed the neighbourhood for any information on the boy in the weeks since he was last seen.
Several searches of the water by divers and robotic cameras have failed to turn up any sign of the boy.
Ariel’s family was joined at today’s news conference by another father touched by a similar tragedy — Michel Surprenant’s daughter Julie disappeared in 1999. She has never been found.
Surprenant said he was compelled to reach out to Ariel’s family because his teenage daughter’s disappearance shared many similarities with the boy’s and he knows what it’s like to hold on to hope.
“I always put myself in the place of the victim and the victim is waiting for us to find them,” he said. “We have to maintain the sense of urgency.”
Investigators have said they have not ruled out any scenarios at this point, including the possibility that Ariel was abducted.
Surveillance video and a witness have surfaced that show Ariel walking down Gouin Boulevard and placing him in the park around midday on March 12.
Here are details about Ariel, who speaks French:
– About four feet seven inches tall, weighing 88 pounds.
– Dark hair and dark eyes.
– Last seen wearing a black coat with a hood, grey pants and yellow shoes.