Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou, known as « le petit Ariel » (Little Ariel or Young Ariel) was 10 years old when he disappeared on March 12h 2018. Everyone remembers him as the little boy with yellow shoes.
On Monday, March 12, 2018, sometime between 11h and noon, Ariel left his home on Valmont Street in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville neighborhood of Montreal to visit a friend. Patrice Attoungbré was temporarily living with the Kouakou family and would be the last person to have officially seen Ariel before he left home on Monday. Ariel went to his friend’s house, but his friend was not home. He was never seen again.
On Monday evening, around dinner time, Ariel’s father, Frederic Kouakou, went to Police Station 10 to report the disappearance of his son. The police officer told the father to go back home and dial 9-1-1, which he did around 7:07 pm. Yet this isn’t the procedure in place when the disappearance of a child is reported. The officer is supposed to immediately notify their superior so that the patrol officers can be sent home immediately to start the search. The first patrollers came to the Kouakou residence at 7:29 pm.
On Tuesday afternoon an Amber alert was issued for 10 hours. The police spoke to a woman who said she saw Ariel at the Parc des Bateliers, a park not far from his home and near the Rivière des Prairies (Prairies River). She talked to him and she said he looked sad. Surveillance cameras from nearby businesses show young Ariel walking down the street near the park, but nothing after that. The police favor the idea of an accidental fall in the Rivière des Prairies, but the Kouakou family refuses to believe that Ariel is dead and continues to say that he was abducted and still alive somewhere. They even wrote a letter in the newspaper calling on the kidnapper to offer him their pardon. In June 2018, the police were looking for a woman who reportedly saw Ariel at the Parc des Bateliers on the day of his disappearance. She was seen smoking a cigarette on the water’s edge. I do not know if this woman was found or not, nor do I know how the police got that information.
Even though the drowning thesis is favored by the police, Ariel’s body has never been found. The search extended for more than 6 km on the Wednesday following his disappearance, and divers sought the Rivière des Prairies. In total, 6 dives were made, but no evidence was found. It was not an easy task because the amount of ice and snow didn’t let the light in much in the water and the water was so cold that they needed to constantly check the vital signs of the divers. The last dive took place on Tuesday, March 20th 2018. Despite the many dives, the hundreds of people who came to help research, and the dogs, horses, all-terrain vehicles and helicopters, no clues were found. The police also used drones to map the park and the surroundings.
Another thing as strange as the policewoman’s reaction when Frédéric Kouakou went to report the disappearance of her son happened shortly thereafter. Less than 48 hours after the disappearance of Ariel, senior officials of the investigation wanted to bring back to the garage the mobile command post (dispatched first near the Parc des Bateliers, then in the parking lot of Galeries Normandie). When informed of these intentions, the acting director of the SPVM (Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal), Martin Prud’homme, was mad and ordered the maintenance of the command post on the spot. Some of the officers who wanted to bring the vehicle back have since been transferred. The command post seems to not have been the only reason.
The reward for finding Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou now stands at $100,000: $10,000 from the family, $15,000 from professional boxer Adonis Stevenson, $50,000 from entrepreneur Bruno Rodi and $25,000 raised by staff members of the École des Berges-de-Lachine from private donors.
Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou was 10 when he was last seen on March 12, 2018.
* SIZE: 140 cm
* WEIGHT: 40 kg
* When he disappeared, he wore gray pants, a black coat and yellow shoes.
* Places frequented: Youth Center at De Mésy Park, Marcelin-Wilson Park, Galeries Normandie.
* Anyone with information regarding this disappearance can communicate it to 9-1-1 or to their neighborhood station.
* To transmit information confidentially and remain anonymous: 514 393-1133
‘No room for hatred’: Ariel Kouakou’s family forgives possible abductor
More than four months after their son disappeared, Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou’s parents sat down together last week to pray and share their thoughts on what happened to their child.
Still convinced Ariel was abducted and is alive somewhere, they decided to write an open letter to the person they believe took their boy near a north-end Montreal park in March.
In the letter, titled “the power of hope and forgiveness,” the family describes how they’re ready to forgive the person if they come forward and would even welcome them into their lives.
“We’re trying to look at this in a positive way,” said the missing boy’s father, Kouadio Frédéric Kouakou, on Tuesday. “For someone to abduct a child, it’s because they’re missing something, either affection or a child’s presence in their life.”
Montreal police suspect the 10-year-old drowned in Rivière-des-Prairies after entering a park that borders the water, but Kouakou has repeatedly rejected the idea. He believes someone has his child.
“God has a mission of love for the person who is with Ariel,” Kouakou writes in the letter. “Let’s start giving love to this person and we will see that this person will surprise us beyond our expectations.”
The letter describes the different emotions the family has been living through for the last four months. Adding to the anguish, Kouakou writes, is the “pain of the unknown and questions without answers.”
But the family is focused on remaining resilient and hoping their “champion Ariel” will return one day, the letter says. They’re now willing to move on to the next stage of the process: forgiveness.
“We are ready and committed to forgive (…) this person who has been living with Ariel for more than four months already,” the letter says. “We have no room for hatred in our hearts. We are even ready to share our lives with this person.”
Ariel Kouakou: Montreal police seek new witness to missing boy
After getting hundreds of tips about the disappearance of a ten-year-old boy, Montreal police say they would like to talk to a a woman who was in the park the morning Ariel Kouakou disappeared.
Now police have received a tip that a second woman was in the park that morning around the time Ariel went missing.
Inspector Ian Lafreniere said because surveillance video showed Ariel walking to the park but he was never spotted leaving the area, police believe that Ariel slipped into the river and drowned.
“I don’t want to be negative but she won’t help us to find Ariel. This is really more about knowing what happened, were there any kids playing on the riverside. This is really to explain to the family what happened in the last moments,” said Lafreniere.
Police have conducted many searches of the river, most recently on May 31, but have yet to turn up any sign of the boy.
Ariel’s family, however, believes that the boy was abducted. The Kouakous have been calling on the Montreal police force to create a specialized unit to deal with possible abductions.