Friends and family continue search for missing Vancouver Island man

Father of 2, Ben Kilmer, went missing on May 15. His work van was found on a rural road outside of Duncan, B.C., with blood inside and the engine still running.

Ben Kilmer disappeared May 16 under suspicious circumstances

The remains of Ben Kilmer, the 41-year-old electrician from Cobble Hill, B.C., who mysteriously disappeared in the spring, have been found, according to his wife and the RCMP. (RCMP)

Friends, family and volunteers continue to comb the woods west of Duncan, B.C., for signs of a missing Vancouver Island man, even though police and search and rescue efforts have been suspended.

Ben Kilmer, a 41-year-old electrician from Cobble Hill, has been missing for a just over a week.

"We are obviously holding out that Ben is still alive somewhere and hoping to connect and find him and bring him home," said his brother-in-law, Ryan Corry.

On the afternoon of May 16, Kilmer's work van was found abandoned on Cowichan Lake Road west of Duncan with the engine still running.

A small amount of blood and his personal items were found inside the van, according to RCMP.

Kilmer was last spotted on surveillance video at a job site shortly before 11 a.m. that same morning.

"It's an ongoing missing persons investigation and it is a priority for our officers, but in consultation with Ben's family and search and rescue, the decision has been made to end the extensive six-day ground search," said Const. Pam Bolton of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

At its peak, close to 100 volunteers and 60 search and rescue team members were searching the dense forest and rural area around where Kilmer's van was found.

The effort included an RCMP dog team and crews paddling up and down the Cowichan River. A small pond was drained to rule out whether it was a factor in the disappearance. 

Dozens of friends, family members and volunteers have continued with the search — some using ATVs and dirt bikes, Corry said.

"The land out here is quite vast and very challenging to just cover on foot, and we need people everywhere and diversity in the searches," Corry said.

Volunteers have also put up missing posters in communities across Vancouver Island hoping for any tips that could lead to a break in the case.

"As we all know, there really hasn't been any answers. No clues really turning up through the search. A lot of people were dumbfounded by it," Corry said.

Online fundraising campaigns have also been launched to support Kilmer's wife Tonya and their two children, aged 5 and 2, he added.

A missing persons poster for Ben Kilmer, which his family and friends have been circulating across Vancouver Island. (Facebook/Find Ben Kilmer)

Kilmer is described on a "missing" poster as five-foot-ten and 180 pounds. RCMP say he has short brown hair and blue eyes. He is clean shaven and was last seen wearing light coloured pants, a black shirt and steel-toed work boots.

Anyone with information is asked to call North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With files from Megan Thomas