Reward boosted to $75K for help finding missing Montreal boy

A $50,000 commitment from a local furniture magnate has boosted to $75,000 the amount offered for information that leads to a missing Montreal boy.

Divers searched river Monday, near des Bateliers Park, for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou's family on Saturday offered a $10,000 reward to anyone with information about the disappearance of their son. Contributions from others have since raised the potential reward to $75,000. (CBC)

A $50,000 commitment from a local furniture magnate has boosted to $75,000 the amount offered for information that leads to a missing Montreal boy.

Ten-year-old Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou went missing last Monday and, in the week since, community-lead searches have been launched, police have combed over land, under water and by air, and Montrealers are offering huge sums of money to elicit new, valuable information that could lead to him. 

Rodi Furniture owner Bruno Rodi found out about the boy's disappearance on Saturday and said he's putting up the $50,000 as an incentive "to find Ariel in good shape."

Ariel's father, ​Kouadio Frédéric Kouakou, specified that the money is to find the boy safe and sound.

Ariel, 10, had left his home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville to walk to a friend's house when he went missing on March 12. His parents believe he was abducted. (Montreal police)

Rodi is not the first person to commit money to help find Ariel. On Sunday, champion boxer Adonis Stevenson donated $15,000.

That money was added to the initial $10,000 the family offered to anyone with information on their son's whereabouts. 

For Pina Arcamone of the Missing Children's Network, a cash reward offers incentive for the media to continue talking about Ariel and show his photo.

"It might incite someone that saw something but for whatever reason hesitated to call it in," Arcamone said.

Divers scan river

Montreal police divers spent Monday submerged in the icy Rivière des Prairies looking for Ariel but had found nothing by the time the search was called off at 4 p.m.

The divers focused on the river's edge near des Bateliers Park in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, in Montreal's north end, in an attempt to locate him.

After finding nothing in that area, the divers changed location, moving farther east along the banks of the park.

The temperature in the morning felt like –17 with the wind chill. 

Divers were aided by a helicopter, but the search was called off around 4 p.m. after they found nothing. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Missing since March 12

Ariel had left his home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville to walk to a friend's house when he went missing on March 12. His parents believe he was abducted.

The boy's father said he is confident that the focus on the river today does not mean that police have stopped investigating the possibility his son was taken against his will. 

" I have confidence in the police's job. I rely on the police," he said. "If the result is bringing my kid back alive, I say every means can be used to get to that result that we are all expecting."

A command post remains active at Galeries Normandie, a strip mall on de Salaberry Street, where police will be on site to receive any information from the public.

Last week, police searched the riverbank of the area near des Bateliers Park, and this weekend volunteers were out putting up posters and going door-to-door looking for clues that might lead them to Ariel. 

Police divers searched the shores of the Rivière des Prairies for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou who disappeared one week ago. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Call to reinstate Amber Alert

In the past few days, Ariel's father has called for police to trigger an Amber Alert once again.

Police launched an Amber Alert the day after Ariel went missing. This was the first time Montreal police issued an alert without meeting certain criteria, like there being evidence of an abduction and information on how to locate the boy.

Police said it was an "exceptional measure" given that Ariel had been missing for more than 24 hours.

It was later lifted when police determined Ariel's case didn't meet the criteria to keep the emergency measure in place.

Arcamone said she is sure that reinstating the alert would make no difference to the case — it has served its purpose, she said.

"The Amber Alert is the most powerful tool that allows us to have impact within seconds all across the province because it involved the participation and collaboration of every media outlet," Arcamone said. "And I believe we were successful in doing that on Tuesday."

With files from Lauren McCallum and CBC Daybreak