The Search for Desmond Peter: Vulnerable Youth are not “Just a Runaway”
Desmond Peter was reported missing in March 2007 from Duncan, B.C. At that time he was a 14 year old boy who was close with his family and friends.
“The first two weeks were very difficult,” recalled Elizabeth Louie, Desmond’s mother. “He had been labeled as a runaway and lots of information was just not taken at the time.”
The teen would sometimes leave home to have overnight stays with friends in the community, so his disappearance was not taken as unusual right away. “At first they asked if he had done it before. I told them that he leaves sometimes but always comes home. It’s unlike him to not come home and contact me,” she continued. “They mistook that just as before.”
“Unfortunately, Desmond’s case is typical of a lot of cases,” explained Michael Ferguson, Senior Investigator with MCSC. “It didn’t get a lot of attention right away because he was classified as a runaway. Once 2 weeks have gone by, then you are playing catch up.”
“This is why MCSC doesn’t use the term “runaway”. Instead we treat cases as vulnerable youth that deserve immediate attention.”
In 2016, there were 45,609 cases of missing children reported to police in Canada. Of those reports, 34,083 were classified as “Runaways”. While many of these “runaway” cases are resolved within a week, thousands remain missing and continue to be in great danger on the streets. These “runaways” are the vulnerable youth we hear about in terms of youth homelessness, addictions, gang violence, child exploitation and trafficking. They are vulnerable youth who are missing children and they need to be returned to safety.
This March 12th marks the 11th anniversary of Desmond’s disappearance. Over the years, his family and friends have continued to work tirelessly to get answers about Desmond’s whereabouts.
“MCSC has always been a big support. They have helped move the case forward working with the RCMP to continue looking for information,” said Elizabeth. “I have my moments and I can talk with them for support or for help.”
“The way that MCSC uses social media definitely helps. For example when my family shares, it goes into the States, Alberta, different bands. The information can get everywhere really quickly,” she continued.
“The Elders always emphasize that it takes a community. It takes a community to raise a child, and it will take a community to help find our missing kids.”
This January, MCSC met with Elizabeth and her mother Donna to take another step forward in the search for Desmond.
“Elizabeth and her mom are very special people,” said Michael. “We always try to visit when we’re in the area. With our current visit, we are collecting photos of Desmond’s Mom and Dad to help create another tool in the search for Desmond: age enhancement photos.”
Through our contacts at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US, MCSC is getting age enhancement photos completed for Desmond to age 25. Once completed later this year, the new photos will be another opportunity to generate leads in the search for Desmond.
Desmond turned 25 years old this past November 15. He is a First Nations male who at the time he disappeared was 5’6″ tall with brown eyes, black hair and some facial stubble. He was known to wear a dark-coloured hoodie that he pulled up to conceal his face. He was also known by other names, such as Desi, Desmond Louie and Casey Louie.
If anyone has any information about Desmond, please call the North Cowichan Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522. Confidential or anonymous tips can be sent to MCSC at www.mcsc.ca/investigations/leave-a-tip/ or call toll-free at 1-800-661-6160. For more information, please visit https://mcsc.ca/cases/desmond-peter/
 NCMPUR 2016 Fast Fact Sheet, RCMP, National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR), http://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/2016/index-eng.htm