Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou’s family still praying for his return 1 year after Montreal boy’s disappearance
It’s been 365 days since 10-year-old Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou disappeared from his Montreal-area home.
He was last seen on March 12, 2018, after leaving his home in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough to visit a friend who lives a few blocks away.
To mark the solemn anniversary, Ariel’s family will be holding a vigil and mass at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12 at Église Saint-Joseph-de-Bordeaux, located at 1650 Viel St.
Ariel’s face will also be displayed across the 68 Metro stations of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM).
WATCH: A surveillance video of 10-year-old Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou, who has been missing since March 12, 2018, has left his family on edge. Captured from a nearby home, the video shows Ariel walking by and turning around twice.
“Our home is empty without you. We ache to hold you in our arms once again,” said an emotional Kouadio Frédéric Kouakou, the boy’s father.
The boy’s parents are asking for privacy during this time but say they are grateful to Montreal police and for the public’s attempts to find their son.
WATCH: Montrealers form human chain for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou
“A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Pina Arcamone, director general of the Missing Children’s Network.
“For the past year, we have been supporting Ariel’s family and truly understand the depth of their anguish. It is time to put an end to this unbearable sorrow — these parents need to know where their son is.”
On the morning of March 12, 2018, Ariel, wearing his brand-new yellow sneakers, left home to visit his friend who lived nearby —but no one was home.
Surveillance footage captured the boy entering the nearby Parc des Bateliers, but he is never seen exiting the park.
WATCH: Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou search continues
In the months following his disappearance, Montreal police received hundreds of tips, but none were fruitful.
Montreal police combed through wooded areas and used icebreakers on the Rivière des Prairies, which runs along the park’s northern shore.
They set up a command post in the area and went door-to-door, but there was no sign of the boy.
In April, police ended their river search, saying the waters had become too dangerous for divers.
“I couldn’t tell you there’s a squad working on it full time because there are no new leads,” said André Durocher, a spokesperson for Montreal police.
“You’re not going to put resources where there are no leads to validate. Don’t hesitate to call the police. Every tip is validated, verified. And if that one tip can help the family come to a conclusion with this tragedy, it would be mission accomplished.”
WATCH: Kouakou family forgives alleged ‘abductor’
The boy’s family believes he was kidnapped and created a petition to ask the province to create a joint specialized response unit for presumed criminal kidnappings.
“Ariel, you are our champion. The life of a champion is hard,” Kouakou told Global News last July.
Ariel has been described as four feet six inches tall and weighing 90 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair and is French-speaking.
WATCH: Candlelit vigil held for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou’s family, now desperate for help
He was last seen wearing a black jacket, grey pants and yellow shoes.
The family describes him as a good child; they say he’s timid and wouldn’t follow someone if he didn’t know them.
Anyone who may have information about Ariel’s whereabouts is encouraged to call Info-Crime Montréal at 514-393-1133 or the Missing Children’s Network at 1-888-692-4673. All calls are confidential.
WATCH: Ariel’s father wants his son to come home
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