A year ago this month, three-year old Dylan Ehler went missing from his grandmother’s home in Truro, Nova Scotia.
His boots were found at a nearby brook later in the day of his disappearance on May 6, 2020, but after numerous searches, the little boy has never been found.
Every day, every week, the same thing is always on their mind, said his mother, Ashley Brown, “Where's Dylan? What happened to Dylan? There isn't really much else on our minds.”
After a year of searching, of tips that haven’t led them to their son, Dylan's father Jason Ehler said it feels like nothing has changed in their thoughts.
“Not knowing is the worst, unimaginable thing you could possibly go through as a human being ... not knowing where your child is. I don't think there's anything worse than that,” he said.
His son's boots were found in the water seven hours after his disappearance. Either someone threw them in or Dylan drowned, his father said - but which is it? “Anything's possible because there's no Dylan,” Ehler said.
There were no footprints or any other evidence, but there are two bridges, said Ehler, adding someone could have grabbed him and tossed the boots over a bridge to the river below.
His parents and sometimes small groups have searched nearly every day for a year, he said. COVID restrictions have made it difficult, but they keep searching on their own even if everyone who might want to join them could not due to restrictions.
They search on land, and they search the waterways because they know there's a chance he went into the water. “We have to do both,” Ehler said.
The search is often "overwhelming,” he admits, noting they're just ordinary people without much equipment. But over time they acquired walkie talkies and maps and tried to pursue searching as professionally as possible. More resources, like cadaver dogs, would help, he said.
Truro Police still list Dylan as missing and posted to social media as recently as the anniversary of his disappearance, inviting anyone with tips to contact the police. Requests for comment from Truro Police were not received by press time.
Dylan's father said there have been tips throughout the year, but also cruel scammers using the tragedy to try to seek out rewards.
Tips give them hope, Ehler said, but so far, none have resulted in them finding their son.
Brown said tips are still important and encourages anyone with any information to come forward. The parents welcome anyone willing to join searches when permitted by pandemic restrictions and encourage those interested in helping to join IAMMISSING Dylan Ehler Search Updates on Facebook. Above all, they want people to keep their eyes open.
Maybe someone reading this has him and will have a second thought and bring him home, Ehler said.
Maybe Dylan himself will read this article one day, he said.
A reward of $18,207 is being offered by the family for his immediate return.
Dylan’s family is broken, said Brown, but she’s had to return to work to provide for their other child, Lily, as the bills haven’t stopped throughout the tragedy, but her son is never far from her mind.
Dylan’s father said not knowing where his child is gives him the strength to keep going.
Any person with a child who went missing knows, he said, “your whole life goes into looking so nothing stops you, nothing stands in your way.”
Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal