The Disappearance of Luke Joly-Durocher

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EARLY LIFE:

Luke Joly-Durocher was born on June 28, 1990 to parents Monique Durocher and Rob Joly in Témiscaming, Quebec. While his parents eventually divorced, the family remained a tight-knit unit, with Luke and his sisters, Priscillia and Sara, keeping in constant contact with each other.

Described by those who knew him as very outgoing and social, Luke was known for his warm nature toward others. He was always smiling and never afraid to go in for a hug. Those around him loved his easy-going nature, and he was your typical teenager who loved hockey and music. He was an avid piano and guitar player, and he believed his music would one day make him famous.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

On March 3, 2011, Luke left his father’s home in North Bay, Ontario. According to Rob, he had to work overtime at a pulp and paper mill in Témiscaming, so Luke was unable to stay with him the following night.

After leaving his father’s home, Luke stayed with friends in North Bay at an apartment located at 683 Sherbrooke Street, in the city’s Nipissing District. That evening, he and his friends were drinking when they decided to visit Cecil’s Eatery and Beer Society, located in the 100 block of Main Street, at the intersection of Wyld Street. The group arrived at 11:54pm, but Luke was denied entry due to his level of intoxication and left the bar alone. It’s reported that a snowstorm was moving through the area at the time.

DISAPPEARANCE:

Luke was reported missing to the North Bay Police Service on March 7, 2011.

SEARCH:

During the initial search, police seized Luke’s dark navy American Eagle jacket, his cellphone, his keys and his prescription glasses from the apartment at which he had been staying. The residence would later become the subject of a forensic investigation. According to his phone records, his last communication was a text to his father at 8:51pm on the evening of March 4, 2011, asking for a ride home to Quebec the next day.

Surveillance footage from Cecil’s confirmed that Luke and his friends arrived at the bar at 11:54pm on the evening he went missing. It showed him leaving the establishment alone and walking onto its patio, where he initially turned left before realizing he needed to go right in order to make it onto Main Street. From there, footage shows him standing outside of Zoom Nightclub, before heading west on Main Street toward a Bank of Montreal (BMO) location. Cut-off images from the bank show a man believed to be Luke entering, followed by an unidentified male.

On March 15, 2011, Luke’s bankcard was found in a snowbank by a pedestrian in the 500 block of Sherbrooke Street. According to bank records, he last accessed his account on the day he went missing, having withdrawn $20.

On March 19, 2011, police searched the eastern part of North Bay’s downtown. The team included a psychic and a search dog, which was given a bag of Luke’s clothes, in the hopes it would pick up his scent. It ran to the apartment before leading investigators to Main Street and back around to Sherbrooke Street, eventually bringing searchers to the Kinsman Trail. It reportedly barked at the banks of Chippewa Creek.

The investigation surrounding Luke’s disappearance has been subject to much media and community attention.

In April 2011, the North Bay Police Service, with the help of the Sûreté du Québec and the Ontario Provincial Police’s K9 Unit, conducted ground searches in a rural area close to Témiscaming. Two months later, on June 16, 2011, the OPP’s Underwater Search and Rescue Unit had divers search Lake Nipissing near the water treatment plant for clues. This search was based on a tip from the public.

In March 2016, a pre-existing $10,000 reward for information was increased to $50,000 with the assistance of the OPP and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

On June 14, 2016, the North Bay Police Service and the Sûreté due Québec searched a home on Boucher Street in Témiscaming. Nothing was located, but investigators returned the following day.

Investigators held a news conference in October 2019 to announced they’d uncovered a later sighting of Luke at Shooter’s Bar at the Voyager Inn on Delaware Street, off Algonquin Avenue. He was seen socializing, and an employee recalled seeing him at around 3:00am on the morning of March 5, 2011, before he obtained a ride from at least one of the bar’s patrons. Additional witnesses came forward and were interviewed.

During the same press conference, it was announced that billboards featuring Luke’s image and the number those with information could call had been installed along highways 11, 17 and 63.

Over the past 10 years, investigators have conducted hundreds of interviews and followed up on numerous leads. They admit that the beginning of the investigation was fraught with misinformation and rumours, and they continue to have the assistance of the OPP. The investigation has led to the identification of a number of persons of interest and many having been cleared of suspicion.

It is believed Luke met with foul play and is now deceased. His DNA and dentals are available for comparison, should his remains be located.

THEORIES:

1) Rob is of the belief Luke was murdered because he owed money to an unknown individual. He believes said person is the unidentified man seen in the surveillance images with Luke at the BMO location. His theory is that the pair went to take out money from Luke’s account, but when Luke discovered he didn’t have his bankcard on him, they went back to the apartment on Sherbrooke Street to retrieve it. When it wasn’t there, the male killed him at an unknown location and disposed of his body.

Two women came forward to corroborate Rob’s theory, with one stating she’d witnessed Luke being beaten to death and his body disposed of in the Témiscaming area. However, both women’s stories have been proven false and they were each individually prosecuted for obstruction of justice and sentenced to jail time.

2) A second theory is that Luke accidentally drowned in Lake Nipissing, due to his level of intoxication. There are many holes in this theory, however, and investigators don’t believe Luke’s disappearance is the result of an accident. They state that Shooter’s Bar, where he was last seen, is a fair bit away from any bodies of water and that Lake Nipissing was shallow and still frozen over at the time, meaning it would have been obvious if he’d broken through the ice. His body would have also been found fairly quickly.

3) A final theory held by internet sleuths is that Luke met with foul play while hitchhiking home to Témiscaming. As aforementioned, he had texted his father earlier in the evening about getting a ride home the following day. However, many question the validity of this, stating Luke wouldn’t have left behind his belongings at the Sherbrooke Street apartment if he’d been planning on travelling back to Quebec.

AFTERMATH:

Rob has since sold his home in North Bay and moved to Kipawa, Quebec. He now lives a short drive from Luke’s old apartment in Témiscaming.

Rob always lights a candle on Luke’s birthday, paying homage to a line his son always used to say to him: “Lots of light to you, dad.”

Luke’s case has been featured on numerous podcasts, including the Shedding Light podcast and the Already Gone podcast.

Over the years, the family has held numerous candlelight vigils and done all they can to raise money for the reward, including holding community concerts.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Luke Joly-Durocher went missing from North Bay, Ontario, Canada on March 4, 2011. He was 20 years old, and was last seen wearing a dark navy American Eagle jacket; a grey t-shirt with a purple logo on the lower left side; dark blue/black jeans; a purple studded belt; and a pair of black New Balance running shoes with green stitching. It’s noted his belt and a black laptop shoulder bag he owned have never been recovered. At the time of his disappearance, he had a slim build, standing at 5’8″ and weighing 150 pounds. He has short, curly dark brown hair and brown eyes, and often has facial hair. He has a scar on his right forearm, which is thinner than his left, and he has braces on his upper teeth.

Currently, the case is classified as a missing persons investigation, with foul play suspected. If alive, he would be 31 years old.

Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the North Bay Police Service tip line at 705-497-5555 or the OPP at 1-888-310-1122. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Near North Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Image Credit: North Bay Nugget

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