Det.-Sgt. Richard Gauthier says he has no idea what happened to Darren Werner.
“It’s so bizarre, people don’t just disappear without a trace like this,” Gauthier said in an interview Wednesday.
Werner was last seen on Sept. 16.
Gauthier has been put in charge of Werner’s case and he says it has consumed his life.
“I’m losing sleep over this now because it doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
“It does not make sense, it does not make sense,” the detective repeated.
As of now, Niagara Regional Police do not suspect foul play was involved in Werner’s disappearance.
“I’d love to be able to say, ‘We suspect foul play. Stay tuned,’ but I can’t,” he said.
The void of information police have on the situation is unusual.
“In my 25 years of experience I can honestly say this is a first.”
Gauthier said police agencies are on alert across the province for signs of Werner. The detective stressed that Werner is in no legal trouble.
“If someone knows where he is or if he, for that matter, reads this or sees this on TV, I have to make it very clear that he is not in trouble,” Gauthier said.
“He’s not going to get arrested. We just want to put his family at ease and put the community at ease.”
Gauthier said the police have no tangible leads.
“Why would someone disappear like that? I mean, there’s a plethora of reasons — who knows? We don’t know.”
Gauthier said it could be that Werner went somewhere and suffered a medical emergency, leaving him incapable of contacting anyone.
More mystery abounds when considering the unknown vehicle Werner was reportedly seen getting into.
“We don’t know who was driving, we don’t know what kind of car it was, we don’t know what colour it was and we don’t even know if this car exists,” he said.
“We’re in the process of combing through CCTV cameras in the area to see if we can find this car, which is a needle in a haystack.”
Werner’s family has told police he left with only his cellphone and his wallet, Gauthier said.
He was hesitant to comment on whether Werner was in debt due to the massive fire that consumed his property on Townline Road earlier this year.
“I can say that the fire marshal attended and it was not deemed suspicious,” he said.
“I think it’s unfair for the police to comment on insurance or debt or anything of that nature."
Gauthier said a canvassing of Werner’s social life only revealed positive comments about his behaviour.
“He is liked by everyone. He lights up a room, he’s a jovial character. There’s nothing to suggest he was in a bad state of mind,” he said.
“There’s no reason why this guy would disappear right now.”
Gauthier said if something happened to Werner, it could be very hard to identify him if a lot of time elapses.
“It happens all the time here in Niagara Falls. Having been a detective here for five years, I could blow your mind if I showed you how many unidentified human remains we have of people that have either fallen into the gorge or end up in the water and wash up on shore.”
“It takes years to identify these people.”
Having said that, Gauthier stressed that there’s no reason to suspect Werner is in any way injured or dead.
“This is just a man who's vanished and two kids who are missing their dad and I don’t have answers for them.”
Gauthier has released a video calling on people who may know Werner’s whereabouts to reach out to the police. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
People with information can also call Niagara Police at 905-688-4111, ext. 1009315.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report