It was a warm, spring day on April 24, 1980, when three-year-old Jeffrey Dupres went to the next-door neighbours’ house to play with his best friend, Rodney.
Jeffrey’s mother, Denise McKee, was doing laundry in their Slave Lake, Alta. bungalow at the time, and thought nothing of it; She and her husband Ray Dupres had only moved to the area three months earlier, and she was delighted that Jeffrey and Rodney, who was a couple years older than her son, got along so well. The pair were forever traipsing back and forth to one another’s houses.
McKee’s sense of ease was short-lived. Just twenty-five minutes after Jeffrey left for Rodney’s house, Rodney rang her doorbell, wondering where his friend was.
Jeffrey had disappeared.
More than 42 years later, McKee still has no idea what happened to her son. There’s not a day that’s since passed — and there have been more than 15,000 of them — when she hasn’t thought of him and wondered. In her best-case scenario, Jeffrey was kidnapped and is alive today, perhaps unaware of the events that took place so long ago. At worst, well, she tries not to think about that. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, she holds out hope.
Eleven years ago, McKee, an Ottawa resident since 1993 (and earlier — Jeffrey was born at the Grace hospital here, in 1977), created a Facebook page, “What Happened to Jeffrey Dupres?” with the hope of crowdsourcing a solution to the mystery. Last month, she started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds so a private investigator could set up a tip line (recoveragency.com), as well as examine possible theories and old leads, re-interview people who knew Jeffrey, raise awareness about the case, and employ means unavailable or not used in the early 1980s, including commercial DNA analysis and genealogy websites. Anything to uncover Jeffrey’s fate and his possible whereabouts today.
As part of this new investigation, she commissioned UK-based forensic artist Tim Widden to create an age progression portrait of what Jeffrey might look like today, at age 45. There’s also a $5,000 reward for information on Jeffrey’s whereabouts.