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Sister still searches for missing brother, vanished in Brantford in 1975

18-year-old Ricky Jones was last seen by family in 1975. His sister, now 60, wonders what has happened to him in 41 years.

'I don't want to go to my grave without knowing what happened to him'

A family photo of Richard "Ricky" Henry Jones, who was last seen by family in 1975. (Diane Jones Sanderson)

In 1975, a dying mother asked to see her teenage son before her time was up, and a family's search began that has yet to be solved 41 years later.

Diane Jones Sanderson's 18-year-old brother Ricky had just started graphics school at Sheridan College in the fall of 1975 when their mother got sick with heart disease, spending time in and out of Hamilton General Hospital.

"And then we tried to locate him, because the doctors were saying, you know, family should know that she's not well and may not come back out of the hospital," Jones Sanderson said Monday.

"We couldn't find him."

Her mom died near the end of February 1976. "And she was asking for him," said Jones Sanderson.

Her brother, Richard 'Ricky' Henry Jones, would be 59 years old. He was last seen by family in the fall of 1975 on Clench Avenue. 

'I'd like to know if he's still alive'

Jones Sanderson lives in Calgary now, and her search for her brother has been making news for a few days since the family approached a local newspaper and Brantford Police put out the word about the decades-old missing persons case. 

A family photo of Ricky Jones, taken before he disappeared. (Diane Jones Sanderson)
When she talks about her brother, she speaks slowly, sometimes trailing off when she wonders aloud why they never heard from him, or whether he's still alive.

A lot has happened in four decades. Over the phone, it sounds as if she feels the burden to bear those memories to one day share them with him.

She said the family has lost one of her older brothers, and both parents – "and I don't know if he knows," she said.

Now it's just Diane, a brother and a sister.

"Those of us that are left are older now," she said. "And nobody's health is good, and I just thought, 'What's happened?' you know? I'd like to know if he's still alive."

'I don't want to go to my grave without knowing what happened to him'

Since the advent of missing-persons websites, Jones Sanderson has clicked around, always expecting to find her brother.

"I'm 60 and he's one year younger. We were quite close. I'm just thinking, you know, I don't want to go to my grave without knowing what happened to him," she said.

Brantford Police are looking for Richard Henry Jones, who hasn't been seen in 41 years. (Brantford Police Service)
"I expected him to be there on those missing sites and he just wasn't. And that got me thinking, well, what's happened to the original report, right? Why isn't he there?"

When they couldn't find him in the '70s, Jones Sanderson said family members went to police, maybe in Hamilton or Oakville. But Brantford Police over the past weeks have been unable to find any trace of those original missing persons reports.

"That whole area's changed, so I don't know. It could've got lost in the files, or…"

"He was reported missing [at the time]," she said. "It's not like we waited this long to do it."

She made a round of calls to police stations in the '80s, but nothing turned up then, either.

'All of a sudden, he was gone'

The disappearance happened 41 years ago.

"Back then, there wasn't an internet or anything, for us to know what direction he went in, or what happened, or…"

But Ricky was an adult, she said.

"I mean, it was the '70s," Jones Sanderson said. "Brantford was very small and lots of people I know just left, right? You know, traveling around Canada and hitchhiking, stuff like that. So that's possible."

She said there was no falling out with the family.

"It was just, he started school. And then all of a sudden, he was gone. And our whole family was in a turmoil with my mother so sick and everything, and everybody rushing back and forth to the hospital."

'We just kept expecting to hear from him and never did'

Police say it has been difficult to get any leads in its effort to help the family. 

Inspector David Wiedrick of the Brantford Police Service said it made calls to Service Ontario and Canadian Revenue Agency with a S-I-N number but no information could be found.

The revenue agency said they are not allowed to tell police when the last time was he filed a tax return.

"At this stage, due to the lack of information that we have found on Ricky, he is either passed on, assumed a different name or is living somewhere other than Canada," Wiedrick said in an email.

In many cases, people missing that long have passed away. Wiedrick became concerned Jones may be one of those people. "If Ricky was one of those persons, we may be able to provide his family some closure," he said.

Since CBC reported about the case Friday, Brantford Police received a voice message from a man who went to the same school as Jones. "It was a quick voice mail saying: 'I went to college with Ricky Jones, contact me and I'll tell you what I know'," said Inspector David Wiedrick, who's been trying to piece together what happened.

Jones Sanderson said she's thankful to Wiedrick, and to the Brantford Expositor, which first reported her search.

She said what she's after now is "closure."

Perhaps that will come from a DNA match in a database some day, she said.

"We just kept expecting to hear from him and never did," she said.

"That could have been his choice. I don't know. Or maybe it wasn't."


Brantford Police provided a phone number for anyone who has information about Jones' whereabouts: Det. Terry Shipp at 519-756-0113 x 2266.

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