Where is Jeffrey Boucher? One week in, still no leads

The mysterious disappearance of Jeffrey Boucher stretches into its second week, with a police investigation and massive ground search finding few leads, little hope and even fewer answers.

One week into the intensive search for the Whitby, Ont., teacher and still nothing. No hints, no tips about where he might be or where he might have gone. No paper trail or outstanding motive to suggest he purposely disappeared. No signs of a struggle, signs of a body; no signs of anything.

It is as if Boucher simply vanished from the face of the Earth one week ago today.

"We have very few leads to go on," Det. Sgt. Mitch Martin told reporters on Monday. "I've been doing this for a while and Mr. Boucher quite simply appears to have vanished."

The Durham Regional Police Service announced on Monday that they would scale back their ground search, but said they would continue the investigation until Boucher is found.

Police searched diligently for a week, launching a ground and air patrol almost immediately after Boucher was reported missing. They brought in a volunteer search and rescue group to cover the vast terrain, and corralled locals who were set on helping in the search despite the dangerous winter conditions.

Jeffrey Boucher, courtesy Durham Regional Police ServiceThey have kept hope alive with constant updates of their progress and their searching strategy. As days passed, the updates got shorter and hope appeared to drain from the words.

"There are no significant new developments in this case," a statement released Monday reads. It has become a common declaration.

“In terms of progress, we have been able to eliminate large geographical areas due to the work of our ground and air efforts. We have followed up on tips and have attended areas where he was known to jog. We keep monitoring to see if there is any activity from Mr. Boucher, but at this time, we still do not have any concrete leads,” reads a statement released Sunday.

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Here is what we have come to know about the disappearance of Jeffrey Boucher.

The 52-year-old teacher was reported missing on the morning of Monday, Jan. 13. His family says he went out for a morning jog and has not been heard or seen from since.

Boucher is an avid runner, who is believed to cover between 10 and 15 kilometres during his daily runs. He varied his running paths, making the search tricky and the area in question vast. The police-led search has expanded as far as 25 kilometres from his family home, with special attention given to popular running trails and areas he was known to frequent.

We know that Boucher is a family man. He has been married to his wife for more than two decades and has two daughters. We know he is a teacher at Bowmanville High School; the school's principal sent a note out early in his disappearance expressing concern for him and his family.

We know that Boucher went for a very long run the night before his disappearance, to the point that it worried his family. His daughter, whose tweets about the incident have been deleted, has said he told her he lost track of time because the weather was nice.

We know that Boucher disappeared without his phone or his wallet. His car was left parked at the family home. One moment he was there, the next he was not.

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None of this information has helped Durham police come anywhere closer to determining his whereabouts. The many press conferences held to share information have all come with this disclaimer: We can't say for sure Boucher made the conscious decision to disappear. We can't say for sure he didn't.

We are truly stumped in this investigation.
Det. Sgt. Mitch Martin

Part of the search has included tracing Boucher's "electronic footprint" for indications that he is still alive and active. There has been no luck on that end, just as there has been no luck finding signs on the streets and fields near his home.

What remained, one week after Boucher disappeared, was the systematic ground search that expanded to new territory using volunteers and on-duty officers. Now, that has been put on hold.

A week-long ground search is surely expensive, even though Durham police say they have conducted the search in a "cost efficient" manner. Seven days into a ground search, hope that he would be found outdoors and alive had waned. A harsh cold front coming to southern Ontario this week will extinguish what little hope remains.

Martin said investigators were considering four possible options for Boucher's disappearance: foul play, suicide, intentional disappearance and accident. He feels the ground search would have already turned something up in the case of an accident.

The remaining scenarios are dark indeed. But still, no evidence to suggest any are more likely that the others. Said Martin, "We are truly stumped in this investigation."

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