For the past year or so, 25-year-old Darryl Leblanc Jr. (D.J.) has been a homebody, not venturing out very far or for very long.
But he’s been gone for almost two months now, which has his father, Darryl Leblanc Sr., very worried.
Leblanc Sr. says D.J. was staying with him and his wife, Judy, in Quesnel off and on. Leblanc Sr. describes his son as “a soft, gentle soul” and says he has been going through a lot. D.J. has mental health issues, and his father says he’s been “extremely depressed” since he and his ex broke up, and the ministry stepped in and took their children. His mother also died in the last year or so, which hit him hard.
“He’s got a lot going on,” said Leblanc Sr. “He used to be a social guy, just out and about — everyone in this town loves D.J. Then he went through all his stuff with his kids and his breakup with his ex and the ministry stepping in with his kids, and he sort of turned to drugs a little bit. He turned to methamphetamines, and I kind of helped him put a stop to that. After that, he just became sort of a homebody, and he was in my house pretty much 24/7. The biggest thing that’s got us concerned is that fact in itself. He’s always been at home ever since his traumatic things have happened there, with the exception of his cheque issue days.”
D.J. receives a disability cheque from the government, and Leblanc Sr. says each month, he would take his son down to the bank on cheque issue day so he could pay his bills and get everything in town that he needed.
Leblanc Sr. recalls he and Judy were planning to drive D.J. to the bank the morning of December’s cheque issue, Dec. 19, and everything was fine when he went to bed the night before, but that morning, D.J. left way too early, without them, saying only that he had to go.
They drove downtown and saw D.J. sitting at Spirit Square and spoke to him. When the bank opened, D.J. went in to get his money, but instead of coming back to talk to his father like he said he would, he just left.
Two days later, D.J. texted his father and asked him to come and see him. Leblanc Sr. and Judy went up by the Walmart and tried to talk to him and figure out what was going on.
D.J. was very evasive but eventually admitted he was sleeping outside. Leblanc Sr. tried to tell him it was not safe, but he says D.J. refused to get in the truck and didn’t let him help make other arrangements.
“For some reason, he just wanted no part of it, so I said, ‘OK, I’m going to give you a little time,’” said Leblanc Sr. “We left and went around the corner, and I phoned the RCMP, and they went and did a welfare check on him.”
The RCMP said because D.J. was of legal age, there was not much they or Leblanc Sr. could do, so Leblanc Sr. went back up to Walmart, but D.J. was gone.
He has not seen him since.
Leblanc Sr. says D.J. has taken off in the past, but generally for two days or three days at the most.
Leblanc Sr. filed a missing person’s report in January, and he started getting really worried after the January cheque issue date. After the cheque issue date, which he thinks was Jan. 24, he heard from police that his son’s deposit had not been touched.
“He had not been in the bank to get his money, which is extremely unusual for my son,” said Leblanc Sr. “We’ve become extremely alarmed now with that new information. That was a blow.”
Since then, Leblanc Sr. found out there was somebody who was selling a coat that resembled D.J.’s online in Quesnel. They looked into it, and he pulled up that photo on his computer and a photo D.J. had posted where he was all bundled up to compare the two coats. Leblanc Sr. says he happened to look at his son’s eyes, and he had noticed a bit of red and bruising around his nose, which he attributed to the cold, but he also noticed his eyes seemed black and blue.
“Now, we’re really worried,” said Leblanc Sr. “I’m concerned something very bad may have happened to him, without any substantiated evidence, other than that picture is haunting me.”
Leblanc Sr. says he has wondered if his son committed suicide, as hard as that is to fathom, but then he saw that picture, and he just doesn’t know.
“We’re very afraid that either he has done something to himself or perhaps there’s been foul play,” he said. “We don’t know.”
Leblanc Sr. hopes telling his son’s story might spark something, and someone out there will realize they have seen him and share new information.
“We’re just really worried about him, and we hope somebody out there is going to see something we posted or something in your paper or on the news and say ‘you know what, I’ve seen that guy,’ and at least give us a place to start looking,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a rock in this town I have not turned upside down personally, never mind my friends and family who have been involved. It’s like he just vanished.”
The Quesnel RCMP issued a news release Feb. 21 saying they are still asking for the public’s help in locating D.J.
D.J. is described as a Caucasian male who is 5’11” and 150 pounds with a thin build. He has brown shoulder-length hair and bluish-green eyes and has a skull tattoo on his left shoulder.
D.J. was last seen wearing a navy coat with fur on the collar, camo boots and ski pants and carrying a sleeping bag.
Police say D.J. does not normally travel outside of northern B.C., but he does have relatives in Ontario.
Anybody who has any information about Darryl Leblanc Jr. or knows where he might be is asked to contact the Quesnel RCMP at 250-992-9211 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.
Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.
Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance use.