Dermot is frozen in his tracks. Where was that crying sound coming from. He thought it was just a neatly stacked pile of logs he was looking at, but Dermot couldn’t have been further from the truth.
He wants to make a run for it and shout for help, but who would hear him in these hills. As he got closer to the pile of logs, an uneasy feeling hit the pit of his stomach. He had no idea he was about to uncover something truly unimaginable.
With the fresh air in his lungs, there was nothing Dermot Smith loved more than hiking up the hills in his small town.
A thrill-seeker at heart, Dermot spent a lot of his time up in the hills, surrounded by nature.. But this budding adventurer had no idea that when he embarked on a hike on one cold Sunday morning, he was about to uncover something truly unimaginable.
Dermot had lived in Riverwood his entire life. It was a quiet town and everybody knew everybody’s business.
Despite this, the people there were friendly folk who would do anything to help you out.. But seven months ago, a terrible tragedy tore this town apart. And nothing would ever be the same again.
It was in the summer when an 18-year-old girl named Alice went missing. Her parents had let her go meet a friend at the bottom of the road, but five hours later she hadn’t returned. All that was left on the street was her pink bike.. Her parents were distraught.
It wasn’t like their daughter to go anywhere without telling them first. They had no idea where she was or what she was doing. The worried family thought nothing could get worse. But they were wrong.
Word quickly spread about young Alice. More than 100 volunteers and police officers showed up with their families.
Flashlights were found and brought to the property as night fell.. High-visibility jackets were put on backs as they prepared for the night ahead. Everyone was thinking the same thing, but nobody dared to say it.
Hundreds of arms pushed past the trees. Beams of light flashed across the roads and fields. The same name was called again and again—Alice. A sickening feeling swelled in Dermot’s stomach.
Everything looked the same. Everything was the same. It had been days since anyone last saw her. Were they too late?
“It was stressful and emotional. We were all out there just walking back and forth, from one end to the other, yelling her name,” explained family friend Jan.
Days went by. Friends, family, neighbors, strangers, and law enforcement still searched.. Bodies walked back and forth, bumping into one another, calling for Alice.
On the seventh day, the search party’s lights began to fade one by one. In the distance, the flickers diminished like dying fireflies.
With heavy hearts, everyone knew that hope was dimming, too.. Combing through the area for a little girl was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Then, a chopping noise from the distance began to rise.
Helicopters equipped with infrared cameras as well as canine units were dispatched from the Emergency Management Agency.. Despite all of this the girl was still missing with no sign of her to be found.
They couldn’t help but wonder what happened. The search had stretched from days to weeks. Time was running out.
Dermot, like everybody in the town, was distraught to hear the news of Alice’s disappearance and joined the search party. They all huddled together and did whatever they could to bring the girl home.
However, despite all their efforts, nobody could find Alice. It was as if she vanished into thin air.
They had sent helicopters and dogs in hopes of finding her, but they hadn’t found hide nor hair of the girl — it was as if she had simply vanished off the face of the earth.
What everyone didn’t know, however, was that Alice had been hiding in plain sight the whole time.
Seven months after Alice’s disappearance, the girl still had not been found. Dermot decided to go for a hike.
You see, hikes helped Dermot clear his mind.. He grabbed his bottled water and walking gear and headed out onto the hills. He had no idea what he was about to uncover.
Dermot had been hiking for just under an hour. He had started to break a sweat, and he could feel the burn in his muscles.
Despite this, the scenery was stunning – and it was well worth the effort to see it. He breathed in the fresh air and a smile crept onto his face. Then suddenly, he saw it.
It was a pile of logs at the bottom of the hill. What were they doing there.
Curious, Dermot walked down the hill to inspect the neatly stacked logs.. When he arrived he walked over to the pile. Then suddenly he heard a noise that left a shiver up his spine.
It sounded like a cry but Dermot had no idea where it was coming from. The sound made his blood run cold.
He shouted out onto the hills behind him, but there was no response.. And then the cry suddenly stopped. What was going on?
Dermot investigated the pile of logs further.
He didn’t know why these logs were here, but the weather soon took a turn for the worse, and Dermot knew he had to leave and head back home.. But just as he was about to leave, he found something that left him feeling sick to his stomach.
Dermot is frozen in his tracks. Was this a joke. He felt sick to his stomach the moment he saw it.
He wanted to run and scream for help, but who would hear him in these hills?. He knew he had to be quick. With his hands trembling, he picked up his phone and dialed 911. He hoped it wasn’t too late.
The police headed out to the hills after hearing a frantic Dermot on the phone. “Come quick. Now.
Just come now please!” Dermot told the cops on the phone, his voice breaking.. What had Dermot discovered. It took them just under 30 minutes, but finally, the cops arrived. They had no idea what was waiting for them.
When Officer Jones arrived at the hills, he was stumped to find a pile of logs and a distraught-looking Dermot. “What exactly is going on,” the officer asked, his tone stern and authoritative.
Dermot walked up to Officer Jones with tears tricking down his cheeks. “Just look over there,” he said and pointed to the pile of logs.
Officer Jones makes his way over to the pile of logs, and with each step he took, an uneasy feeling crept up his spine.
He didn’t know why, but he had a bad feeling about these logs. When Officer Jones got closer to the logs he realized something, and he was left feeling sick to his stomach.
From a distance, the pile of logs looked just like that: a neatly stacked pile of logs.
However, upon closer inspection, Officer Jones got suspicious of the perfect rectangular shape, and black lines.. When he realized what this pile of logs actually was, a terrible feeling hit the pit of his stomach.
The odd-looking lines on the pile of logs were actually windows. What he thought was a pile of logs, was actually a secret hideaway.
But what exactly needed to stay hidden away from everyone to see. When Officer Jones and Dermot looked inside the secret cabin, they were horrified.
Inside the secret cabin was a bed, shelf, and a small toilet. Then suddenly, a young girl emerged from the corner.
Officer Jones yelped in surprise seeing the young girl. He took a closer look at the girl and realized who she was. He was lost for words.
The mystery girl was in fact Alice, the girl that went missing a mere 7 months ago. Officer Jones was startled at his discovery.
What was she doing here?. The officer knew he needed to call for back up and get this girl to safety. But was it too late?
Officer Jones’ back up arrived at the scene and took the disorientated Alice back to the station for questioning. Alice told officers that a man had kidnapped her and put her in the secret cabin.
As hard as they tried to piece together what happened, the police had no leads. Alice was returned back home safely and the case is still open to this day. But, half a world away, another child had also gone missing. And he was only found 31 years later…
This was the moment she was waiting for. Finally some truth, some answers. No mother should go through what Lyneth went through.
Never in a million years would she wish what she went through on anyone, not even her own worst enemy. Which at times, was herself.. Arriving at Connecticut Airport, hundreds of miles away from her home in Canada, Lyneth steps out into the pickup area, hoping that she’ll finally be given answers about her son’s disappearance. She had been waiting 31 years for this moment.
It was a warm summer day in June 1987 when Lyneth pulled up to a dollar store on Islington Avenue in the north of Toronto. She was picking up her son Jermaine, from his father Alan who had arranged to meet Lyneth there at 4 pm.
Jermaine was just a baby when the two parents decided to separate, but despite this, Jermaine was a happy child, with a smile and laugh that could light up a room. She couldn’t wait to see him. But she had no idea what was to come.
Lyneth had spent the day doing all the typical things you do when you’re child-free for the day. Grocery shopping, daily errands, etc.. She even bought Jermaine a toy, a fluffy plush lion with big brown eyes – just like Jermaine.
Lions were his favorite. She knew he would love it. But little did she know her whole world was about to come crashing down.
The clock has just gone 4 pm and Lyneth watches a family across the road. They’re laughing, smiling, and enjoying each other’s company. Lyneth smiles to herself.. Strangely, the little boy, who’s clinging onto his father’s shoulders, resembles her own son.
He waves at Lynteh and she waves back before checking her watch. It’s now 4:09. Where were they. As the minutes passed, she could feel a terrible feeling in her stomach.
Lyneth’s heart is pounding. She can feel it in her chest. The time is now 4:20 pm and Alan and Jermaine still haven’t shown up.
Suddenly, a swarm of anxiety hits Lyneth and she stumbles to the ground, dropping the toy she had personally picked for Jermaine.. As she gets up and races into her car, she dials 911 and speeds off. Leaving behind a cloud of smoke and Jermaine’s teddy bear.
The sound of silence fills the empty home of Lyneth. Perched on a chair in her kitchen, Lyneth’s eyes are sore and her head is throbbing.
It has been 48 hours since she waited at the dollar store. Since she waited to see her little boy and give him his teddy bear. But now she has neither her son nor his teddy bear.
A couple of months passed and even after the Toronto police conducted an extensive search there was no trace of Jermaine. As expected, Lyneth was devasted.
And slowly but surely, those couple of months turned into a couple of years, and the next thing Lyneth knew, she was celebrating what would be Jermaine’s 25th birthday in her empty home. This couldn’t be it, could it?
Over the years, numerous agencies had attempted to solve the disappearance of Jermaine. But there were still no leads. Even the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) became involved but still, nothing. All Lyneth had left were the memories in her mind and a few images of her little boy.
But Lyneth refused to give up. In 1989 she appeared in The Toronto Star hoping to raise even more awareness.. There were suspicions that Allan had abducted Jermaine, and taken him over to the United States, but there was no concrete evidence. However, there would soon be a crack in this heartbreaking case that would change everything.
Across the border, in the United States, there was an equal dedication to finding out what happened to Jermaine. His story was featured on the Charley Project, a database dedicated to publicizing missing person cases in the United States.
Unfortunately, this still didn’t give police a lead. Despite all this, there was still one person that was adamant to find Jermaine. And he wouldn’t rest until he did.
A ray of light in a world of darkness, former policeman Ted Davis had been investigating for MCSC for three decades.
After meeting Lyneth and watching her wear her heart on her sleeve, Davis made a promise to Lyneth and her family that he’d do everything in his power to make sure Jermaine was brought back home.. And so finally, in 2016 – almost 30 years after Jermaine had disappeared, there came a break in the 3-decade-old case.
That same year, Ted had attended a conference alongside members of the Toronto police and representatives of the United States.
When at the event, the attendees started to discuss Jermaine’s disappearance which ultimately sparked further interest. As Ted left the conference little did he know investigators would have some fresh leads to follow.
By the end of summer 2018, investigators had got in contact with numerous people who were Allan’s acquaintances. With each person they spoke to, investigators hoped they would be able to get some vital information.
Some suggested that Allan may have made his way 500 miles east of Toronto, residing in Connecticut. But it wasn’t until they spoke to one of Alan’s closet friends that they would land a crucial clue that would finally lead police to Jermaine.
Supposedly, Allan had created a new name, a new alias, and a brand new identity. Going by the name as Hailee Randolph DeSouza, police knew they were one step closer to finding out what happened to Jermaine.
They searched official databases and social media and finally, they found a match; an elderly man and aged man living in Vernon, a town close to the Connecticut capital of Hartford. Could this be them. If so, does that mean Jermaine is alive?
With the mystery finally about to be solved, investigators enlisted forensic experts to help join the case. They examined the driver’s license photo that was on record for DeSouza’a’s son.
And slowly but surely in October 2018, the team was able to confirm what they had all been hoping for: that DeSouza’s son and Jermaine were probably the same. They had a match. But first, they had to catch Alan.
Investigators were excited that they finally had some answers. But they knew they needed to make a move; they had to find Allan before it was too late.
An anonymous source claimed Allan often spent his time at the local KFC; he was friendly with the staff and he sure did love the food. And so, investigators set off to the KFC ready to bring Allan to justice and make him pay for his crimes. But would that be the case today?
“This is the police,” screams a member of the Connecticut Police Department as they race inside the KFC restaurant. The team scanned the room looking for Allan, while startled and confused employees stand around.
Then they notice an elderly man sitting in the corner of the room.. He puts his hands up and the police immediately corner him and the man confirms that he is the fugitive they’re looking for. But where was Jermaine?
Police suspected that back in 1986 Allan had fled Toronto with Jermaine and traveled to the United States with the two reportedly sharing an apartment in Connecticut since 2004.. Handcuffing Allan before leading him outside, the police hear a voice.
“Dad?” Suddenly, a middle-aged man walks around the corner. A middle-aged man with big brown eyes. Just like Jermaine.
The father and son duo – unbeknownst to the son – lived a life of lies for decades and decades. After fleeing Canada, Allan had managed to acquire fake documents, residing in New York, North Carolina, and then settling in Connecticut.
When living in Vernon, Allan found employment as a trucker and as an engineer, while Jermaine worked for the state. Little did Jermaine know, his whole life had been a lie.
All his life Jermaine had questions about his mother. His dad told him she passed away during childbirth, but he was pretty ambiguous about the details.
Jermaine remembers seeing his friends get picked up from school by their mothers. Jermaine never had that. And it wasn’t until he turned 33, that the truth about his mother would come to light.
Standing and weeping in court as his father’s lies and deceitfulness came to light, Jermaine sobbed into his tissue. How could his father do such a thing. His heart stops to hear that Allan would not be facing charges for kidnappings.
Instead, he would be extradited to Canada to face further charges.. As he steps out of court, Jermaine is lost for words. With thousands of questions running through his mind, a sudden realization hits him. His mother is in fact, alive.
Lyneth is speechless. She has just got off the phone with Ted. They’ve found Jermaine. Her baby boy.
He’s alive. He’s safe. She had been waiting for this moment for 31 years.. Overwhelmed with emotion, Lyenth breaks down, tears falling from her face. She’s going to see her baby boy again.
So, Lyneth had finally received the news that she had been hoping and waiting for — for the last three decades. “Words can’t express what I felt,” she said at a press conference in 2018.
“The words, ‘Your son is alive; we’ve found him,’ that is breathtaking.” The overjoyed mother then boarded a plane to Connecticut. She couldn’t wait to reunite with her long-lost son.
Standing in the pickup area at Connecticut airport, Lyneth is about to be reunited with her son after 30 years. She can’t believe it. What will he look like?. Suddenly, a tall, dark figure appears, walking towards Lyneth.
Instantly she recognizes the face and those big brown eyes. Her heart stops. It’s her son. It’s Jermaine.
Running towards each other with tears streaming down their faces, Lyneth and Jermaine crash into each other with a warm embrace. Both are crying and overwhelmed with emotion.
Squeezing each other tight, they both have so many questions. But for now, they just hug each other tight, refusing to ever let go again.
“I grabbed him and squeezed his head; I want to feel if he’s real,” she said through tears.
“I touched him, and I said, ‘Oh my God, my baby.’”. Although Jermaine has declined to give any public interviews as yet, Lyneth mentioned that he made a touching comment when they met — he said that they shared the same eyes.
After Lyneth was reunited with Jermaine at last, the pair were able to spend some quality time together at last. Lyneth was eager to learn about Jermaine’s life and what had happened in the last 31 years.. Lyneth even bought ingredients to make Jermaine a home-cooked dinner – only to find out that he is a vegetarian.
But Jermaine decided to make an exception. “He said, ‘You know what, Mommy. Cook the chicken. I’m gonna eat the chicken,’” Lyneth recalled.
For the time being, it is unclear if Lyneth will relocate to be closer to her long-lost son.
However, the happy mother did tell reporters that she will do everything in her power to make sure they are never separated again.. Then, Lyneth went on to open up about the devastating actions that Allan had taken all those years ago.
“I just thought it was sad for him to have done what he did,” Lyneth confessed. “You never take a child from its parent – no matter what.”.
The mother also coming to terms with the fact that her son had a whole other life before she came back into the picture. “I have to respect the fact that he was a child; he didn’t know anything,” she explained.
“So, what was given to him, he had no choice but to live with that,” Lyneth continued. “And so, if the name that he has right now, he would like to respect that, then I’m gonna stand with him.”.
With that being said, however, Lyneth admitted that calling her son by his new name may always be difficult. “To me, my son has always been Jermaine, so yes, that sticks for me,” she explained.
During a news conference, Lyneth also took the time to give special thanks to all those people on the case — all those people who never gave up the search for her missing boy.
Lyneth made special mention of the MCSC and the authorities on both sides of the border. Furthermore, she hoped that her story might inspire other parents in her situation to never give up their faith.
“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering – 31 long years – one should never give up,” Lyneth explained. “But be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”.
Meanwhile, John Durham, Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney, spoke about all of the investigators who had worked so long and hard to bring Jermaine home.
“After taking his son away from his son’s mother, this defendant is alleged to have lived a lie for the last 31 years in violation of numerous U.S. laws,” Durham said in an official statement in 2018.
“We thank the many law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada that have investigated this matter, worked hard to apprehend this fugitive, and finally provided some answers to a mother who has suffered with her son’s absence for far too long.”.
And, according to the experts, Jermaine’s disappearance is an exception to the rule in what is actually a surprisingly common crime.
“This is believed to be the longest case in North America – if possibly not the world – where an abducted child is reunited with a parent where they’re both in safe condition,” Banks explained.