Ariel Kouakou: Still no trace 1 year later
Screens in every STM metro station to show Ariel Kouakou's image
One year later, 10-year-old Ariel Kouakou's image still looks out over the community in the Montreal borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
On the anniversary of the boy's disappearance, the Missing Children's Network has teamed up with the STM, Montreal's public transportation agency to show Ariel's image on screens in the city's 68 Metro stations.
And, the CIBC plans to send out his photo with credit card statements to remind the public that Ariel Kouakou is still missing.
Ariel Kouakou disappeared on his way to a friend's home. He was last seen in desBateliers Park, near the intersection of Acadie and Gouin boulevards.
"Twelve months since Ariel went missing and and still nothing. Not one clue," said Frédéric Kouakou, Ariel's father, at a mass Tuesday evening at Saint-Joseph-de-Bordeaux church in Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
Hundreds of supporters showed up to the special service meant to help keep the hope alive that they will still find the young boy.
His disappearance and his family's relentless effort to find their son gripped the city after he was last seen along the Rivière-des-Prairies on March 12, 2018.
Investigators eventually concluded the boy had slipped into the water on March 12 and drowned, swept away by the currents — something Montreal police still believe to this day.
Ariel's father thanked the public, those who donated to the reward fund for finding their son and local police for their assistance over the past year.
But he also criticized the fact that police resources were dedicated to the theory that Ariel drowned.
He believes his son was abducted, and called for the creation of a special task force focusing on criminal abductions.
The fact that Ariel's body was never found does not mean he didn't fall into the river, said Insp. André Durocher.
"He might have slipped and fallen into the water because we have evidence that shows us that he was indeed in the park and near the water with the various surveillance cameras and we don't see him come out of the park."
The search for answers continues
Marie-Eve Nicol Grigoropoulos was one of the volunteers who searched for Ariel in the days following his disappearance.
She was at the church on Tuesday to volunteer once again, handing out pictures of Ariel.
"No news, no changes. I didn't expect that we would make it to one year," she said.
Pina Arcamone, head of the Missing Children's Network, said the boy's family needs answers.
"There's a family that is waiting for news, good or bad," she told CBC. "They need to know what happened to their son. We need to give them this gift of closure."
The organization is asking people to be on the lookout for the boy and to "have a special thought for him and his family."
"This has been the most difficult and trying year for a family, 365 days of asking themselves everyday where is their son, and going to bed at night with that question never being answered."
It's time, she said, to bring the boy home.
With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio and Matt D'Amours