He Didn’t See It Coming
As Dermot walked past a log pile his ears pricked up. He heard something out of place, he cocked his ear to hear it more clearly. He had assumed this was an ordinary log pile, he didn’t know how wrong he was.
His legs froze in place, he wanted to call for help but he was so far from civilization no one would hear him. He slowly crept closer to the logs, not knowing what to expect.
Dermot loved nothing more than hiking in the outdoors. He loved the smell of the pine trees and the feeling of dirt beneath his walking boots. He would spend most of his days out in nature.
But Dermot was unaware of what he would unearth when he got dressed and heading out towards the forest on Sunday morning.
From A Small Town
Dermot lived in small town called Riverwood. Everyone was friendly and knew each other in this town. Everyone would help one another if they needed to.
But just seven months prior to Dermot’s morning walk. Something had happened that clung to the minds of everyone in the small town.
A girl named Alice had disappeared after visiting a friend on her road. The only thing they found of the 18-year-old was her pink bicycle.
Her parents were a wreck, she would never go anywhere without their permission. Maybe she got lost on her way home? The whole town had found out about it and did what they could but still, there was no sign of her.
100 concerned residents from the town decided to help with the search for the girl – Dermot was one of them. With the police accompanying them, they all arrived outside the girl’s home.
They were all prepared for the long night ahead of them. Everyone just hoped she was okay, they were ready to search for hours if they had to.
Searching The Area
A hundred feet walked over the soil of the fields and over the tarmac of the roads. One-hundred voiced were all calling out the same name – Alice. Dermot could feel his stomach twisting into a knot.
But there was no evidence of what happened to the girl. There was no sign she was alright but none to the contrary so everyone kept their hopes up.
Days Gone By
Jan was a friend of Alice’s parents and she said, “It was stressful and emotional. We were all out there just walking back and forth, from one end to the other, yelling her name,”
As time wore on, people felt more discouraged, the search was now a disorganized party of people stumbling into each other while calling out the girl’s name.
One Week Later
By the seventh day, there were fewer flashlights compared to the other nights. More people had given up, and the people that stayed found it hard to carry on too.
The girl could be anywhere, she could be in the woods, in the fields, or somewhere they would never expect. The search was like finding a needle in a haystack. Then suddenly, everyone heard the sound of chopping…
Police helicopters came to comb the woods with infrared cameras while ground units with dogs also looked for clues.
Even with this help, there was still nothing to go on. No sign of the girl for days which turned to weeks. Were they too late? The mystery soon shrouded this case.
Helping Where They Could
Dermot was sad about the news of Alice and how the search came up with nothing. He helped where he could, searching at night for the small girl in the woods.
But still, there was nothing they could find. It was as if she had just up and vanished. But Dermot was unaware of just how close he actually was.
As an experienced hiker, Dermot felt he was most useful in searching through the tough terrain of the mountains that surrounded their town. He could get into places others couldn’t.
But as the helicopters and dogs had no luck locating the little girl, Dermot felt he was throwing sand against the wall and asking it to stick. Still, he felt he had to do something! Little did he know, however, that his decision would turn this mysterious case on its head.
Seven Months Later
It was now seven months since Alice’s disappearance. The girl had still not been found. Some people moved on with their lives, but not Dermot. Every time he went for a hike, he finds himself searching new areas of the wilderness, just for her.
He grabbed his bottled water and walking gear, and headed out into the mountains once again. Only this time, life as he knew it would change.
On His Hike
Dermot had been hiking for just under an hour. He started to break a sweat, and could feel the burn of a workout beginning to take hold in his muscles.
Despite his struggle, he powered through, enjoying the stunning scenery as he breathed in fresh air. He closed his eyes and smiled as he took a deep inhale of the scent of wild grass and oak trees. Suddenly, his eyes shot awake. The smile vanished from his face.
A Strange Sound
He held his breath as he identified the strange sound. It was a voice. A very faint one, but Dermot had no idea where it was coming from. Suddenly, he thought of Alice. The sound made his blood run cold.
He shouted out into the empty space around him, “Alice?!”. But there was no response. Then the voice suddenly stopped. What was going on?
Dermot cautioned forward as he looked around on hyper-alert. Was this a joke? Was that all in his head? He felt sick to his stomach.
He wanted to run forward and scream out for little Alice, but he also knew that maybe that wasn’t the best decision. After all, he had no idea what he was walking into. Then as quickly as it disappeared, he heard the same voice that sent a shiver up his spine. Only this time it was closer.
Pile Of Logs
Dermot is frozen in his tracks again. He steadied his breathing to try to identify where the sound was coming from. Then, once more, it stopped. Heart racing, he ran forward, and then he saw it.
A random pile of logs. What were they doing there? Curious, he walked towards them to inspect it. Once he reached it, his eyes popped. He wanted to run and scream for help, but who would hear him in these hills?
What Were They Doing Here?
He knew he had to be quick. With his hands trembling, he picked up his phone and dialed 911. He knew what he had to do.
Dermot paced back and forth as he waited for help to arrive. He didn’t know what to do. He had never been in a situation like this before. He didn’t want to mess with the evidence and listen out for the voice again. He was so close. He could feel it.
The police headed out to the mountains immediately after hearing Dermot was telling them what he saw on the phone. “Come quick! Now! Please!” Dermot pleaded with the cops before his voice broke.
What had Dermot discovered? It took them just under 30 minutes, but finally, the cops arrived. They had no idea what was waiting for them.
Just Look Over There
When the cops arrived at the hills, they were stumped to find a pile of logs and a distraught-looking Dermot. “What exactly is going on here?,” one officer asked, his tone stern and authoritative.
Dermot walked up to the officer with tears tricking down his cheeks. “Just look over there,” he said and pointed to the unfitting pile of logs.
A Bad Feeling
The officer made his way over to the pile of logs, bracing himself for what he would find. With each step he took, an uneasy feeling crept up his spine.
He didn’t know why, but he had a bad feeling about these logs. When the officer got closer to the logs he saw what Dermot saw. He felt sick to his stomach. What was it?
From a distance, the pile of logs looked like just that; a pile of logs. However, upon closer inspection, the officer got suspicious of the perfect rectangular shape, and black lines.
When he realized what this pile of logs actually was, a terrible feeling grew deep within the pit of his stomach.
Not As It Seemed
The odd-looking lines on the pile of logs were actually windows! What he thought was a pile of logs, was actually a secret hideaway.
But what exactly needed to stay hidden away from everyone to see? When the officer and Dermot looked inside the secret cabin, they were absolutely horrified.
Inside The Cabin
Inside the secret cabin was a small accommodation Then suddenly and shockingly, a girl emerged from the corner of the ‘room’.
The officer yelped in surprise at seeing the young girl. He took a closer look at the girl and realized exactly who she was. He was lost for words. Dermot was in tears of relief. This had become personal for him.
Missing Girl Found
The mysterious case of the girl called Alice was finally progressing. After 7 long months of hopelessness, she was finally found! The officer was startled at Dermot’s discovery and perseverence. But what was she doing there?
The officer immediate called for back up and got the little girl to safety. But was it too late? Were they still in danger? Who owned the cabin?
Getting Her To Safety
More cops arrived at the scene in no time and took the disorientated Alice back to the station for questioning. Alice told officers that a man had kidnapped her and put her in the secret cabin.
However, as hard as they tried to piece together what happened, the police had no leads. Alice was returned back home safely and the case is still open to this day. But, half a world away, a boy had gone missing. But unlike Alice, he was only found 31 years later…
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare
This was the moment she was waiting for. Finally some truth, some answers. No mother should go through what Lyneth went through. Never in a million years would she wish what she went through on anyone, not even her own worst enemy. Which at times, was herself.
Arriving at Connecticut Airport, hundreds of miles away from her home in Canada, Lyneth steps out into the pickup area, hoping that she’ll finally be given answers about her son’s disappearance. She had been waiting 31 years for this moment.
She Couldn’t Wait To See Him
It was a warm summer day in June 1987 when Lyneth pulled up to a dollar store on Islington Avenue in the north of Toronto. She was picking up her son Jermaine, from his father Alan who had arranged to meet Lyneth there at 4 pm.
Jermaine was just a baby when the two parents decided to separate, but despite this, Jermaine was a happy child, with a smile and laugh that could light up a room. She couldn’t wait to see him. But she had no idea what was to come.
She Knew He Would Love It
Lyneth had spent the day doing all the typical things you do when you’re child-free for the day. Grocery shopping, daily errands, etc.
She even bought Jermaine a toy, a fluffy plush lion with big brown eyes – just like Jermaine. He loved lions. She knew he would love it. But little did she know her whole world was about to come crashing down.
Where Were They?
The clock has just gone 4 pm and Lyneth watches a family across the road. They’re laughing, smiling, and enjoying each other’s company. Lyneth smiles to herself.
Strangely, the little boy, who’s clinging onto his father’s shoulders, resembles her own son. He waves at Lynteh and she waves back before checking her watch. It’s now 4:09. But where were they? As the minutes passed, she could feel a terrible feeling in her stomach.
Her Heart Is Pounding
Lyneth’s heart is pounding. She can feel it in her chest. The time is now 4:20 pm and Alan and Jermaine still haven’t shown up. Suddenly, a wave of anxiety hits Lyneth and she stumbles to the ground, dropping the toy she had personally picked for Jermaine.
As she gets up and races into her car, she dials 911 and speeds off. Leaving behind a cloud of smoke and Jermaine’s teddy bear.
An Empty Home
The sound of silence fills the empty home of Lyneth. Perched on a chair in her kitchen, Lyneth’s eyes are sore and her head is throbbing.
It has been 48 hours since she waited at the dollar store. Since she waited to see her little boy and give him his teddy bear. But now she has neither her son nor his teddy bear.
This Couldn’t Be It, Could It?
A couple of months passed and even after the Toronto police conducted an extensive search there was no trace of Jermaine. As expected, Lyneth was overwhelmed with sadness.
And slowly but surely, those couple of months turned into a couple of years, and the next thing Lyneth knew, she was celebrating what would be Jermaine’s 25th birthday in her empty home. This couldn’t be it, could it?
All She Had Left Were Memories
Over the years, numerous agencies had attempted to solve the disappearance of Jermaine. But there were still no leads. Even the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) became involved but still, nothing. All Lyneth had left were the memories in her mind and a few images of her little boy. But Lyneth refused to give up. In 1989 she appeared in The Toronto Star hoping to raise even more awareness.
There were suspicions that Allan had abducted Jermaine, and taken him over to the United States, but there was no concrete evidence. However, there would soon be a crack in this heartbreaking case that would change everything.
Adamant To Find Jermaine
Across the border, in the United States, there was an equal dedication to finding out what happened to Jermaine. His story was featured on the Charley Project, a database dedicated to publicizing missing person cases in the United States.
Unfortunately, this still didn’t give police a lead. Despite all this, there was still one person that was adamant to find Jermaine. And he wouldn’t rest until he did.
A Break In The 3-Decade Old Case
A ray of light in a world of darkness, former policeman Ted Davis had been investigating for MCSC for three decades. After meeting Lyneth and watching her wear her heart on her sleeve, Davis made a promise to Lyneth and her family that he’d do everything in his power to make sure Jermaine was brought back home.
And so finally, in 2016 – almost 30 years after Jermaine had disappeared, there came a break in the 3-decade-old case.
A Crucial Clue
By the end of summer 2018, investigators had got in contact with numerous people who were Allan’s acquaintances. With each person they spoke to, investigators hoped they would be able to get some vital information.
Some suggested that Allan may have made his way 500 miles east of Toronto, residing in Connecticut. But it wasn’t until they spoke to one of Alan’s closest friends that they would land a crucial clue that would finally lead police to Jermaine.
Jermaine Is Alive?
Supposedly, Allan had created a new name, a new alias, and a brand new identity. Going by the name as Hailee Randolph DeSouza, police knew they were one step closer to finding out what happened to Jermaine.
They searched official databases and social media and finally, they found a match; an elderly man and an aged man living in Vernon, a town close to the Connecticut capital of Hartford. Could this be them? If so, does that mean Jermaine is out there?
A Match Made In Heaven
With the mystery finally about to be solved, investigators enlisted forensic experts to help join the case. They examined the driver’s license photo that was on record for DeSouza’a’s son.
And slowly but surely in October 2018, the team was able to confirm what they had all been hoping for: that DeSouza’s son and Jermaine were probably the same. They had a match! now, they had to catch Alan.
Tracking Him Down
Investigators were excited that they finally had some answers. But they knew they needed to make a move; they had to find Allan before sooner rather than later.
An anonymous source claimed Allan often spent his time at the local KFC; he was friendly with the staff and he sure did love the food! And so, investigators set off to the KFC ready to bring Allan to justice and make him pay for his crimes. But would that be the case today?
“This is the police,” screams a member of the Connecticut Police Department as they race inside the KFC restaurant. The team scanned the room looking for Allan, while startled and confused employees stand around. Then they notice an elderly man sitting in the corner of the room.
He puts his hands up and the police immediately corner him and the man confirms that he is the fugitive they’re looking for. But where was Jermaine?
A Crucial Encounter
Police suspected that back in 1986 Allan had fled Toronto with Jermaine and traveled to the United States with the two reportedly sharing an apartment in Connecticut since 2004.
Handcuffing Allan before leading him outside, the police hear a voice. “Dad?” Suddenly, a middle-aged man walks around the corner. A middle-aged man with big brown eyes. Just like Jermaine.
Living A Lie
The father and son duo – unbeknownst to the son – lived a life of lies for decades and decades. After fleeing Canada, Allan had managed to acquire fake documents, residing in New York, North Carolina, and then settling in Connecticut.
When living in Vernon, Allan found employment as a trucker and as an engineer, while Jermaine worked for the state. Little did Jermaine know, his whole life had been a lie.
All his life Jermaine had questions about his mother. His dad told him she passed away during childbirth, but he was pretty ambiguous about the details. He had lied to him.
Jermaine remembers seeing his friends get picked up from school by their mothers. Jermaine never had that. And it wasn’t until he turned 33, that the truth about his mother would come to light.
What Kind Of Father Would Do This?
Standing and weeping in court as his father’s lies and deceitfulness came to light, Jermaine sobbed into his tissue. How could his father do such a thing? His heart stops to hear that Allan would not be facing charges for kidnappings. Instead, he would be extradited to Canada to face further charges.
As he steps out of court, Jermaine is lost for words. With thousands of questions running through his mind, a sudden realization hits him. His mother is in fact, doing well.
The Call That Changed Her Life
Lyneth is speechless. She has just got off the phone with Ted. They’ve found Jermaine. Her baby boy. He’s alive. He’s safe. She had been waiting for this moment for 31 years.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Lyenth breaks down, tears falling from her face. She’s going to see her baby boy again.
Words Couldn’t Express It
So, Lyneth had finally received the news that she had been hoping and waiting for — for the last three decades. “Words can’t express what I felt,” she said at a press conference in 2018.
“The words, ‘Your son is alive; we’ve found him,’ that is breathtaking.” The overjoyed mother then boarded a plane to Connecticut. She couldn’t wait to reunite with her long-lost son.
Standing in the pickup area at Connecticut airport, Lyneth is about to be reunited with her son after 30 years. She can’t believe it. What will he look like?
Suddenly, a tall, dark figure appears, walking towards Lyneth. Instantly she recognizes the face and those big brown eyes. Her heart stops. It’s her son. It’s Jermaine.
Never Letting Go
Running towards each other with tears streaming down their faces, Lyneth and Jermaine crash into each other with a warm embrace. Both are crying and overwhelmed with emotion.
Squeezing each other tight, they both have so many questions. But for now, they just hug each other tight, refusing to ever let go again.
The Same Eyes
“I grabbed him and squeezed his head; I want to feel if he’s real,” she said through tears. “I touched him, and I said, ‘Oh my God, my baby.’”
Although Jermaine has declined to give any public interviews as yet, Lyneth mentioned that he made a touching comment when they met — he said that they shared the same eyes.
After Lyneth was reunited with Jermaine at last, the pair were able to spend some quality time together at last. Lyneth was eager to learn about Jermaine’s life and what had happened in the last 31 years.
Lyneth even bought ingredients to make Jermaine a home-cooked dinner – only to find out that he is a vegetarian. But Jermaine decided to make an exception. “He said, ‘You know what, Mommy? Cook the chicken. I’m gonna eat the chicken,’” Lyneth recalled.
Never Apart Again
For the time being, it is unclear if Lyneth will relocate to be closer to her long-lost son. However, the happy mother did tell reporters that she will do everything in her power to make sure they are never separated again.
Then, Lyneth went on to open up about the devastating actions that Allan had taken all those years ago.
“I just thought it was sad for him to have done what he did,” Lyneth confessed. “You never take a child from its parent – no matter what.”
The mother also coming to terms with the fact that her son had a whole other life before she came back into the picture. “I have to respect the fact that he was a child; he didn’t know anything,” she explained.
He Had No Choice
“So, what was given to him, he had no choice but to live with that,” Lyneth continued. “And so, if the name that he has right now, he would like to respect that, then I’m gonna stand with him.”
With that being said, however, Lyneth admitted that calling her son by his new name may always be difficult. “To me, my son has always been Jermaine, so yes, that sticks for me,” she explained.
During a news conference, Lyneth also took the time to give special thanks to all those people on the case — all those people who never gave up the search for her missing boy.
Lyneth made special mention of the MCSC and the authorities on both sides of the border. Furthermore, she hoped that her story might inspire other parents in her situation to never give up their faith.
“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering – 31 long years – one should never give up,” Lyneth explained. “But be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”
Meanwhile, John Durham, Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney, spoke about all of the investigators who had worked so long and hard to bring Jermaine home.
“After taking his son away from his son’s mother, this defendant is alleged to have lived a lie for the last 31 years in violation of numerous U.S. laws,” Durham said in an official statement in 2018.
“We thank the many law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada that have investigated this matter, worked hard to apprehend this fugitive, and finally provided some answers to a mother who has suffered with her son’s absence for far too long.”
An Unusual Case
And, according to the experts, Jermaine’s disappearance is an exception to the rule in what is actually a surprisingly common crime.
“This is believed to be the longest case in North America – if possibly not the world – where an abducted child is reunited with a parent where they’re both in safe condition,” Banks explained.