British Columbia

Have you seen this man? Forensic artist sketches image of man who disappeared 30 years ago

When forensic artist Diana Trepkov heard the story of the mysterious disappearance of Charles Horvath-Allan in Kelowna in 1989, she wanted to help his mother — who's been searching for him ever since. So she offered to sketch what he might look like today at age 50.

Sketch depicts how Charles Horvath-Allan might look today at age 50

There have been few answers since Charles Horvath-Allan disappeared. Forensic artist Diana Trepkov sketched an age progression of Horvath-Allan on the left, based on a photo of him at age 20, bottom right. (Diana Trepkov)

When forensic artist Diana Trepkov heard the story of the mysterious disappearance of Charles Horvath-Allan in Kelowna in 1989, she wanted to help his mother — who's been searching for her son ever since.

So Trepkov offered to sketch what he might look like today at age 50.

Charles was last seen in Kelowna at age 20 while on a backpacking trip from Quebec to B.C.

"I wanted to get involved because I have this gut feeling like I want to help his mom," said Trepkov. "She's beautiful and caring."

Charles' mom, Denise Horvath-Allan, 70, lives in London, England. Over the years, she has travelled to Kelowna many times to look for leads in her son's disappearance.

On one trip, she discovered that police had found some of Charles' clothing at a campsite. They asked Horvath-Allan to identify the items, she said, telling her they believed her son was dead, but didn't know how he died or why.

His remains have never been found.

Trepkov, of Ajax, Ont., said she feels sympathy for Denise, who is in poor health. She said she heard about the case in the news over the years and wanted to help.

"I feel that she's alone in her search . .  and I just feel really sad. And so I'm doing this for Charles and his mom."

Charles was born in Ontario and raised in the U.K. His mother got married in B.C. and she and her husband honeymooned in the Okanagan.

'I know someone knows something'

Trepkov told Daybreak South host Chris Walker that Denise, 70, was grateful when she offered to sketch an age progression of Charles.

"She's ill and I just want to do anything to help," said Trepkov.

Trepkov hopes that this age progression of Charles Horvath-Allan will help his mother find some answers. (Diana Trepkov)

"I know someone knows something out I'm hoping something will trigger off in someone's mind when they see the age progression of Charles to the age of 50."

Forensic art

Trepkov describes forensic art as 75 per cent science and 25 per cent art. 

"[Forensic artists] are part of the investigation. We're usually the end of the road...when the police are stuck, the families are stuck, there's no results from the DNA, they come to a forensic artist."

For Charles, she used a picture of him at age 20, and then aged him to look 50 by receding and thinning the frontal hairline, softening the flesh under his jaw and making his neck less firm.

Diana Trepkov is a forensic artist who helps sketch age progressions when investigations hit a wall. She heard about Charles Horvath-Allan's story from her home in Ajax, Ont. (Martin Brown)

"I aged him gracefully," said Trepkov.

Revealing the sketch

In a Facebook message to CBC, Denise Horvath-Allan said having this sketch made wasn't easy for her.

"I was anxious to view an image of my boy nearly 30 years after he went missing," she said. But she loved Trepkov's rendition.

"Diana has created a gentle, beautiful artist impression of what young Charles may look like at age 50 which he would have been in 2018."

Hope for answers​

Trepkov hopes her drawing helps jog a memory of anyone who may have come in contact with Charles. The images will be circulated on Facebook.

"It would be like a dream come true if he is alive...and if he is not, then somebody who knows something they can look at [the sketch] and say, 'Well, wait a minute he's 50, he could be married with kids.' 

"This is what we took away from him'," she said.

Forensic artist, Diana Trepkov, heard the story of Charles Horvath-Allan's disappearance in Kelowna in 1989, and wanted to help his mother who has been searching for him ever since, by offering to sketch what he might look like now at age 50. 5:40

with files from Daybreak South