Ian Henry was a quiet young man who loved fishing. He particularly enjoyed spear fishing the traditional Cowichan way. His father, Joseph Joe remembers the exact moment he learned his son Ian was missing.
“We’re coming out of the super store in Duncan. We just walked out with the groceries. Then someone came up to us and told us he was missing. Then we started looking right after that. “
He recalls seeing Ian on the road, for the very last time just days before:
“The last time I seen him was at the tennis corner. I was in a car. Drove right by him. And he was on his bike. “
Ian Henry is one of three men on missing person signs posted around Duncan. His story is part of a new podcast series called Gone Boys, the second season of Island Crime, which aims to draw attention to the missing men on Vancouver Island.
Desmond Peter, 14, Everett Jones, 47, and Ian Henry, 26, are all Cowichan Tribes members who have vanished from the community in recent years.
Could the Duncan cases be part of a larger pattern of missing men elsewhere on Vancouver Island? SFU criminologist Rob Gordon says a deeper probe would be needed in order to determine what correlation there might be.
“What you want is a qualitative drilling down into the data as opposed to just simply a body count. The body count will just simply give you an idea of whether or not it’s a trend. If it’s just a straight body count it may be distorted by things like increases in population or sudden concentrations of people with intellectual disabilities in the area. Any number of reasons like that confound the analysis.”
The data points in this particular analysis are the missing men themselves. The men whose stories are at the heart of the podcast series ‘Gone Boys’ share a few things in common. All of the men have been missing for more than a year. No bodies have been found. Their families do not believe they would have taken their own life. The families also think it is unlikely the men had the capacity to begin new lives elsewhere.
An examination of missing men’s stories on Vancouver Island between 2005-2020 reveals other shared aspects of their stories.
Roadside proximity is one of the main characteristics that stand out in the missing men’s stories. Many of the men were known to walk or ride their bikes alone.
- Ian Henry cycled long distances across the island to visit relatives in Saanich and Port Alberni.
- Brandon Cairney would set off alone for long walks to Bamfield and beyond from his Port Alberni home.
- Desmond Peter was last seen walking along the highway headed for Victoria from his home in Duncan.
- Kelly McLeod was a familiar figure on his bicycle around Campbell River.
- Daniel MacDonnell was waiting to be picked up in Port Alberni. His ride said he never showed.
Dr. Kim Rossmo specializes in geographic profiling. The former VPD detective is now a professor at the University of Texas.
“Think of it from the perspective of the offender. They often want easy to access victims. I think that in some cases along highways, we’ve seen this with serial killers in the United States truck stops, there’s a lot of hitchhiking going on.
And the reason this is important is it makes it very easy for an offender to access victims. They will willingly get into the vehicle. Like why fight someone, when you can get one that will voluntarily get into your vehicle?”
The victim profiles of these men also bear some similarities which could make them vulnerable to an abduction. The men all experienced some measure of disability.
- Ian Henry suffers from schizophrenia.
- Brandon Cairney has a brain injury.
- Desmond Peter was coping with a serious childhood trauma.
- Kelly McLeod broke his neck and became addicted to drugs.
- Daniel MacDonnell’s father believes Daniel had an undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
In speaking with family and friends of the missing men, other associations have emerged. Two of the Duncan men worked at Providence Therapeutic Farm. The Port Alberni men both frequented the same drop-in centre. Three of the men have connections with the now closed fish plant in Port Alberni.
Do any of these factors amount to more than coincidence? Dr. Kim Rossmo :
“There’s been a lot of research and study done on what’s called linkage analysis, which is really what this requires. When you say these incidents are linked, you’re talking about they’re victims of a serial killer. And we know a fair bit about how serial killers hunt, how they choose their victims, their patterns.“
Joseph Joe doesn’t need further analysis to convince him that his son’s disappearance is part of a pattern.
“It’s scary around here. There’s a lot of death around. People finding people down the river. Somebody is killing us people, that’s what I think.”
Gone Boys, a true-crime podcast part of the Island Crime series, drops a new episode every Monday. Catch them on the Frequency Podcast Network.
Rogers Sports & Media is the parent company of this station and the Frequency Podcast Network.