Despite cold and rainy weather dampening the the search for a three-year-old Quebec boy believed to have been abducted by his father, police say they have found signs that the pair is alive and in the area.
Quebec provincial police believe 36-year-old David Côté abducted his son, Jake, on Tuesday from the area of Sainte-Paule, Que., located on the Gaspé Peninsula about 630 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
Sûreté du Québec (SQ) spokesperson Sgt. Hélène St-Pierre said on Friday evening that they have located items belonging to both father and son. Police are not saying what those items were, but confirmed the pair's DNA was found on the objects.
This shows that police are searching the right area, a dense forest near the town, she said.
Police haven't ruled out accomplice
Nearby residents can expect police to search throughout the night, using megaphones to call out to the man and child, St-Pierre said. She said people should call police immediately if they see any signs of father and son.
Police have said they are not ruling out any possibility, including that Côté has an accomplice. Police have been using helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to search the area throughout the day.
Côté has wilderness survival skills and could be using materials gathered from nearby chalets and trailers to survive with his son, police said.
"He is a guy who knows the forest environment well, who would be able to survive if necessary," SQ Sgt. Claude Doiron said.
Frigid, wet conditions Friday made the search more challenging. Environment Canada had issued rainfall and wind alerts for various areas in the Gaspé region, which are seeing heavy downpours and gusting winds due to remnants of Hurricane Ida.
"Despite the particularly difficult weather conditions here, with rain and cold, police officers are working tirelessly today on the ground," Doiron said.
Amber Alert territory widened
The original Amber Alert was triggered within an east-west radius of about 300 kilometres around Sainte-Paule, which has fewer than 300 residents and is about 140 kilometres northwest of Campbellton, N.B.
On Friday, Doiron said police widened the territory under alert to include all of New Brunswick. All of Quebec is also under the Amber Alert.
The primary search area is still around Sainte-Paule, where the SQ says support workers with the regional health authority are being sent to offer support to the community, at its request.
"Obviously, the presence of many police officers can be a source of stress for these people, and it is at this level that we will intervene," said a spokesperson for the CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent.
Police are advising the public to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary but to stay away from the forest and to avoid taking part in the search because they fear Côté could be armed.
Police are asking residents to call 911 if they notice break-in attempts or missing tools, food or equipment.
Côté is described as five feet, seven inches tall and 180 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes, and wearing a dark sweater with a black logo and black military-style pants.
Jake was last seen with his father on Banville Street in Sainte-Paule at 5:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
The boy was wearing a blue T-shirt with silver stripes on the sleeves and lower torso. The shirt has a six or a nine on it, in a blue camouflage pattern. He also wore dark blue jeans and beige boots. He weighs 30 pounds.