Mom on quest to unlock son's digital accounts 3 years after he was found dead in Lake Ontario

Three years after her missing son was found dead along Toronto's harbourfront, Maureen Henry is taking legal action to unlock his digital accounts in a search for clues about the moments before his disappearance.

Dovi Henry, 23, went missing from his Scarborough home shortly after his birthday

Dovi Henry's body was found along Toronto's Harbourfront on July 27, 2014. (Submitted by Maureen Henry)

Three years after her son was found dead along Toronto's harbourfront, Maureen Henry is searching for clues about the days before he disappeared by seeking legal action to unlock his digital accounts. 

Until now, the mother of three says she has been kept in the dark about what really happened to Dovi Henry, her oldest son, who went missing shortly after his 23rd birthday.

The Ottawa woman believes his phone, email and social media accounts may have information about where he was before he died.

On Tuesday, she made it over the first legal hurdle in her quest to force Apple, Google, Facebook and Bell to provide his passwords. 

"I want to find out now exactly what happened because it doesn't feel right. I don't want to be going to a cemetery and crying and grieving, and I have no answers," she said.

"In doing all this it's also to give my mind peace."    

Mom finds son's remains in morgue

Dovi's body was pulled from the water at a marina near Ontario Place on July 27, 2014, nearly two months after his family reported him missing to Toronto police.

His remains weren't identified at the time. But some 18 months later, his mother's amateur sleuthing found the University of Toronto student's body sitting in a morgue.

Dovi Henry disappeared shortly after his 23rd birthday. (Dovi Henry/Facebook)

"What I would do almost weekly was just type in his name to just see if there was any news about him," Henry said.

One night, she says she Googled the words "unclaimed black remains" and stumbled upon the unidentified remains section of the Ontario Provincial Police website, which has descriptions of individual people, listing identifying characteristics and includes photos of the bodies.

I want to find out now exactly what happened because it doesn't feel right.- Maureen Henry

A clue about a male's teeth struck her as a possible match. 

"After we got the dental records, it turned out that it was him," she told CBC Toronto. 

All along, they'd wondered if there was any chance Dovi was alive. One friend suggested he'd moved to Germany, but he hadn't. Nor was he avoiding his family and friends.

Instead, he had been dead all along. 

A coroner later ruled his cause of death as "undetermined," with no criminal involvement suspected, Toronto police Sgt. Jessica McInnes said. 

The body was so badly decomposed that no missing persons report matched its description, she added. 

Const. David Hopkinson, a spokesperson for Toronto police, told CBC Toronto the investigation is ongoing. 

Court order to force Apple, Facebook to give passwords

Still, Henry felt the pieces of her son's death didn't add up. She believes there's more to the story. 

"The whole thing is out of character for Dovi. I understand he was sad, but the whole notion that he would go jump in the lake is not something Dovi would have gone and done."

In an effort to ignite interest in his case, she wants the justice system to help her retrace his final days, hoping that a court order will force Apple, Google, Facebook and Bell to provide his passwords.

Justice James Martin said Tuesday morning he first thought the request was unusual, but said Henry's submission demonstrated how difficult it is for families to get information about a loved one's death.

Martin plans to issue a court order to give Henry access to her son's social media accounts.

It's not known whether the companies named in Henry's request will comply with the order.

"It's hard for my mind to grasp that he's not here. It's not an easy thing to really acknowledge and live with," Henry said.

"When I'm on the street, I'll see tall black boys and I'll stop and I'll look to see if it's him and then it's not him."


Amara McLaughlin

Producer, CBC News

Amara McLaughlin is a social producer with CBC News, CBC Marketplace and The Fifth Estate in Toronto.