'It makes no sense': Homicide unit, Bear Clan, family search for missing Winnipeg man
Eduardo Balaquit's van was found parked at his workplace, window smashed with cellphone inside
The Bear Clan Patrol and 204 Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinated a search party Wednesday night for a man whose sudden disappearance has troubled family members and is being investigated by the Winnipeg police homicide unit.
Eduardo Balaquit's family last heard from him around 6 p.m. Monday, when he was on his way to do normal contract work for the janitorial business he owns, his son Edward Balaquit said.
The 59-year-old father didn't come home that night, and the manager of the building where he was headed called his family the following day to say Balaquit's work hadn't been done. The manager found Balaquit's van with the passenger window smashed, some of his belongings on the ground in front of it and his cellphone still inside.
"I've seen stories like this on TV before, where they've always mentioned it doesn't seem real, and it doesn't. It doesn't seem like something that would happen to you, until it happens to you," said Edward.
"I don't know what to make of it, in all honesty. I can't see anyone wanting to hurt him, or why they would want to hurt him. It makes no sense."
Son of missing dad struggles to find answers:
On Tuesday morning, a police news release said the homicide unit has taken over the investigation.
Balaquit is described as five foot four and 155 pounds with a medium build. He has black hair and brown eyes.
He was last seen in a black zip-up sweater, black pants and black shoes at 380 Keewatin St. between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday.
'He usually comes home'
Edward said his dad's a busy man with a full-time job plus contract janitorial work and doesn't have time for much other than work and family.
On Monday evening, his mom was concerned after Balaquit didn't come home on time, Edward said. Balaquit was supposed to start one job at 6 p.m., then do another before heading home. Both workplaces have since told the family he doesn't appear to have been in that night.
"Whenever he's late he actually does let us know, because my mom actually stays awake for him to come back home. She got worried," his son said.
"It was past 10, when he usually comes home. It became midnight, we started calling him. His phone was off. [When] 3 a.m. started rolling around, we starting driving around, and then, 5 a.m., we ended up contacting police and letting them know."
Mike Smiegielski is co-owner and general manager of Westcon Equipment and Rentals, where Balaquit was working the night he disappeared. Smiegielski says he has known Balaquit for more than 20 years and described him as "warm-hearted."
Alarm records show the alarm at Westcon was disarmed at 6:05 p.m. Monday night, around the time Balaquit would have started working.
When Smiegielski arrived the next morning, the door was locked but the alarm was still disabled. He didn't think anything of it at first, but when he saw that the building was only partially cleaned and the lights were still on, Smiegielski got worried.
"Extremely worried.… Something just doesn't appear to be right," he said. "The front door was locked, the alarm wasn't set, and the building was half-cleaned. So things are starting to sound pretty strange, if you now what I mean."
Wednesday evening search party
On Tuesday, Edward Balaquit posted on Facebook he and his family led a search party looking for his father, asking for volunteers to help.
Another search party is planned Wednesday night and will be co-ordinated by members of the Bear Clan Patrol. Anyone interested in helping out is asked to meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, located at 737 Keewatin St.
He said his dad has never disappeared before, and he can't think of any reason why he would. He has spoken to his dad's co-workers, who said the same thing.
Edward Balaquit is scheduled to get married July 28, something he says his dad has been looking forward to.
"He was excited. He was saying, 'Anything we need,'" Edward said, adding his father was finishing the couple's deck so they could potentially host a tea ceremony there.
"His weekends were build a deck and [then] go to work as well because he does do janitorial stuff then."
Balaquit's family is asking anyone who has seen him to contact family at 204-298-5171 or 204-510-5170.