Today has made a year that my cousin, Darell Cloutier has gone missing. These past couple of months have flown by as I have dealt with my cancer and going from one specialist appointment and one surgery to another. I have been so wrapped up with my health and pain that everything else just got swept under the carpet so to speak. I haven't spent very much time online (so completely forgot what time of the year it was since my surgery as it has been too painful to check out my sites) but now realizing what day it is has put things into perspective. I may be hurting more then I have ever hurt in my life but at least my family knows where I am. At least my pain reminds me I am alive and kicking.. well ok maybe not kicking but you get the point.
Stefan, Jaime and Uncle Raymond, my heart and prayers go out to you today and every day.
Thu, April 10, 2008
From anger to tears: Missing man's friends try to move on as hurting family can only hope for closure in year-old case
UPDATED: 2008-04-10 01:53:52 MST
By MICHAEL PLATT
A full year has passed, but for the family of Darrell Cloutier, life refuses to move on.
The 34-year-old Calgarian vanished in the Bahamas one year ago today, leaving friends and relatives in a purgatory of pain and frustration, with only one realistic conclusion: It was murder.
"At this point, we're pretty sure he was, ah, taken care of," said Stefan Cloutier, Darrell's brother.
"Whether it was random, or whether it was building up over time -- whether he was a target -- we just don't know."
Colleagues who went looking for Darrell after he failed to show up for work found the front door of Cloutier's condominium open and his groceries still sitting in his car.
There was no sign of Darrell, who was only two weeks away from returning to Calgary when he vanished.
Police acted quickly at first, and a 36-year-old Bahamian woman, said to be an acquaintance of Darrell's, was arrested and charged with fraud after Darrell's bank card was found in her possession.
That woman has since been released on bail without further charges, while another suspect in the case -- a man described as "armed and dangerous" in the days following Darrell's disappearance -- was let go without charge.
No further arrests have been made, and Darrell's brother says he doesn't expect the situation to change any time soon.
Stefan says police in the Bahamas have let the trail go cold, and seem content to let the file gather dust.
"It's just been incredibly frustrating, and nothing seems to be getting done," he said.
"Everything moves in slow motion."
A $10,000 reward fronted by Darrell's street hockey pals in the Bahamas remains unclaimed, and a website posted by the Royal Bahamas Police Force asking for public help seems to have withered on the vine -- two tip lines, when tried, ring unanswered.
Police there do answer other phone lines, but attempts to reach the officers in charge of the case leads to multiple transferred calls, and apparent confusion over who is investigating.
Stefan says the family's frustration over the lack of police progress and concern led them to hire an investigator in Canada, but when the private eye flew south, police in the Bahamas refused to co-operate.
"They basically kicked him out," he said.
Both Stefan and his father Raymond have visited the island trying to find answers, but they, too, returned empty- handed.
Back home, there's been no service acknowledging Darrell is gone, said Stefan.
"We're not ready for that," he said.
"There's no closure yet."
Darrell's friends feel a similar frustration, but while a family is endlessly reminded of the son and brother missing from their lives, they have no choice but to move on with theirs.
Dylan Murray, who lives in Calgary, says the year since Darrell disappeared has been painful for those who knew the generous, hockey-loving Canuck, who donated time to the local kids hockey street league.
"I'm hurt, the guys back in Bahamas are hurt, because until you know what happened, it's hard to have closure," he said.
"I feel horrible for his family; it must be excruciating."
Murray says he has come to terms with never seeing his friend again, and he's sure Darrell met with foul play,
As a year passed, Murray says he forced himself to face that reality.
"That's the toughest part, but it's what I've done," he said.
"At first, you feel mad at yourself for giving up, but then you have to admit it to yourself -- when someone is missing for this long, you can't imagine they'll ever be found."
As Murray mourns, other friends remain angry that Darrell's killer remains free.
Jason Kinsale, a Canadian who worked with Darrell, says the apparent lack of a serious police investigation is the hardest part to accept.
"The reality is, he's not coming back, and after a while, you come to that conclusion," said Kinsale.
"But the people who committed this crime need to be charged -- someone is out there who has gotten away with this."