An Ontario teacher whose disappearance during a morning jog sparked a massive search earlier this week appears to have also disappeared for several hours the night before his absence was reported to police.
Jeffrey Boucher, 52, of Whitby, Ont., vanished on Monday morning after he went out for his morning run. His family said Boucher left without his wallet or cellphone, and his car remained in the parking lot. But police now confirm that Boucher disappeared for several hours Sunday night, and believe it is possible he disappeared on his own accord.
“There is that possibility that he has just walked away, for whatever reasons he may have,” Durham Regional Police Sgt. Nancy van Rooy told reporters on Wednesday. “We don’t have anything conclusive that gives us a reason to indicate a trigger that would cause that type of behaviour, to simply walk away. But that is within the realm of possibility.”
Van Rooy added that Boucher did go on a run Sunday night and did not return for several hours. Police, however, were only called when he went missing on Monday morning.
She said that there was no "electronic footprint" leading police to believe Boucher disappeared on his own accord and continue to investigate with the belief that he vanished while running.
Van Rooy would not confirm online reports that suggested a large sum of money was found in his classroom last week. She said police have not received any allegations of illegality from the school and are not pursuing the issue as an investigative lead.
The sergeant described Boucher as an upstanding citizen who may be in need of assistance. She added that, if he has been outside since his disappearance, exposure may be a concern.
“It is difficult not to be able to say we have found him. We are still maintaining that hope that there will be a happy ending for his family, for his friends, his employer and all of us concerned, that he will be found in a short period of time.”
The search for Boucher entered its third day on Wednesday as concerns over icy weather conditions put a damper on the extensive ground search. Durham Regional Police Service urged that residents who had volunteered to help “not to search on their own in ravines and green spaces due to hazardous ground conditions.”
Boucher's wife, Kristen, told CBC News that he jogs every morning before going to work at Bowmanville High School.
"He's been a good husband, he's a good father. He cares for everybody. We do a lot of things together," she told the network. "Could this be a midlife crisis of some kind, where something bothered him at work, and he just wants to run away? I don't know."
[ More Brew: Smile wide: Kingston, Ont., deemed Canada’s happiest city ]
Boucher usually varies his running routes, making it more difficult to know which direction he went the day of his disappearance. It is also not clear what clothes he was wearing the day he disappeared. His family says the avid runner had a number of running outfits, and they are uncertain which set he was wearing on Monday.
Regional police launched a search almost immediately using K-9 search units, air units and the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team. The search has primarily been concentrated on the Heber Downs Conservation Area – about 50 kilometres east of Toronto.
“We continue to investigate all the areas believed to be known as running routes and running trails for Mr. Boucher,” van Rooy told reporters. “We feel very confident with our ground searches and our air searches over the last several days, that we have quite significantly covered the majority of this area by land and by air. We have not yet located him.
“We are hoping he is yet to be found safe and returned to his family…. The appeal is being made to everyone, including our missing person Mr. Boucher, to contact police and let us know any information that may be of value.”
Boucher is described as 6' tall, 180 lbs. with grey and white short hair.
Want to know what news is brewing in Canada?
Follow @MRCoutts on Twitter.