In heat, rain and snow, the tireless search for Andrew Kinsman went on
|Toronto Star 19 Jan 2018 at 18:41|
For seven months, a well-organized community searched for their missing friend and brother, Andrew. They checked riverbanks and forests, their mission spanning great distances and changing seasons.
Said Downer, who helped organize the searches, “I literally could have walked to Montreal.”
The months-long search came to a somber end Thursday, when police announced that Bruce McArthur was charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of Kinsman and another man, Selim Esen.
Kinsman, 49, went missing from Parliament and Winchester Sts. in June.
“We have spent the last seven months putting up posters, searching for him with his friends, with his co-workers and even complete strangers who cared enough to help find him,” Andrew’s sister Karen Coles told reporters Friday afternoon at The 519.
“Through this, we have come to know Andrew even better. He was well-known in his community. He was a hard worker. He was loved by all.”
Searchers scoured from Cherry Beach to the Don Valley area to David Balfour Park to Mount Pleasant to High Park.
Patricia Kinsman, Andrew’s sister, told reporters that “we looked for him in the heat, in the rain and in the snow.”
The last time Karen and Patricia searched for their brother was Dec. 9. During their months-long search, Patricia recalled encountering people living in green spaces and on riverbanks.
“We found homeless men living in tents,” Patricia said. “We met a transgender person who was afraid of living in the shelter, because she had been assaulted . . . . She lived under a bridge.
“We bought her lunch.”
Downer said his first search for Kinsman was July 3.
“One of the toughest things for me throughout the fall was when I was on searches with Karen and Patricia, was, you know, it was a lesson for me in experiencing dual and conflicting emotions at the same time,” Downer said.
“Because we were having a good time, laughing and joking with each other, yet at the same time, we were trying to find their missing brother. And I was feeling so conflicted about enjoying my time with them, but being there for the worst reasons.”
Those searching used an app to track where they had been, to avoid duplicating search locations.
“We walked every nature path, every green space within a reasonable walking distance, from his house outwards,” Greg said.
While some people searched, others plastered Church and Wellesley Village with posters, showing a smiling and bearded Andrew wearing glasses and a cargo green shirt.
After Andrew didn’t show up for work at the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network last summer, friends realized he was missing, Downer said.
“And that’s when his close friends started their postering,” he said. “They continued right through Halloween.”
In the Village, the posters, now worn from winter weather, are still taped to streetlights and park posts.
Patricia recalled that strangers joined with her and Karen to put up notices and distribute them widely.
“We had people come up to us on the street when we were putting up posters . . . people who came up and said, ‘Oh yes, I’ve seen (the posters) . . . . I’ll take them to work and pass them around’,” she recalled.