SACKVILLE, N.B. – The past six weeks have been a living nightmare for Mandy Metallic and her family.
Left searching for answers and grieving for a son who hasn’t been heard from in more than a month and a half, Mandy says she feels utterly helpless as the days tick by and there is still no sign of her Chris.
“We’re trying to prepare for the worst . . . hope is getting very thin,” she says.
With the RCMP no longer actively searching for Chris, and no new leads to help with their investigation, Mandy says she’s not sure where to go from here. But one thing she does know – giving up is not an option.
“It scares me that everything’s just going to die down and he’s just going to be another missing person,” says Mandy, who returned to Sackville for a few days last week to bring her younger son back to university and to post some new weather-resistant missing person posters around town.
Chris, a third-year Mount Allison University student, hasn’t been seen or heard from since the early-morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 25.
After leaving a house party on Allison Avenue in downtown Sackville just after 1:30 a.m., Chris was then seen near the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Bridge Street at around 2 a.m. by a friend, who said Chris had told him he was heading home, to his house on Maple Avenue. But Chris never made it there.
Another witness reported he may have seen Chris walking along the Upper Aboujagne Road, nearly 15 kilometres away from downtown Sackville, more than three hours later. During the RCMP search, shoes that were worn by Metallic the night he went missing were found in that same area. And footprints that led searchers to the Tantramar River along that same route were also confirmed to be his.
But Mandy says she continues to have doubts about why her son would have wandered so far from town, to a remote area, with no cell phone and very little clothes on his back. And if searchers were able to find his shoes and his footprints, why has there been no other sign of Chris anywhere? The family even brought in cadaver dogs to search the area but came up empty.
Mandy says there are so many questions about Chris’ unexplained disappearance that continue to replay over and over again in her head every single minute of each day.
“It’s just a constant headache, you don’t sleep . . . I sit at home, helpless.”
Family and friends spent 23 straight days looking through marshes, swamps, backyards and dirt roads for any sign of Chris following his disappearance, says Mandy, even after the RCMP and search and rescue workers had called off their ‘official’ search after a week-and-a-half.
The wintry weather, however, soon began to present challenges for the searchers, and it came time for Mandy and the other family members to head back home to Listuguj First Nation in Quebec.
Fortunately, Mandy says she was comforted with the knowledge that residents in the area were continuing to look for any signs of Chris.
“When I went home, I felt a little assured they were still out there looking,” she says, noting that many people they had met while staying in Sackville kept in touch with her through Facebook or text messaging after she left.
Returning home was pretty tough, Mandy admits. She says she tore down her Christmas decorations that had been hung up a few weeks before Chris’ disappearance.
“It wasn’t a Christmas really.”
She acknowledges that she was still holding on to hope that Chris would walk through the door.
“I had the hope that, just maybe, if he had run away, he’d come home for Christmas.”
She says the weeks she spent at home since leaving Sackville have been frustrating, with little news from the RCMP about the investigation.
The only clues or leads she has gotten since being home are from local residents or Chris’ friends who have been calling her to tell her what they’ve heard.
She says she lets the police know everything she hears but has no idea whether everything is being followed upon, or with any sense of urgency.
Chris’ stepfather Murray Isaac points out “even if it’s just a rumour, we want it looked into.”
Psychics and mediums have also been contacting Mandy to give her their input into what has happened to her son. She says she’s had a difficult time discerning which mediums to trust and which ones might actually have information on her son, if they do at all.
Most recently, upon her return to the Maritimes, Mandy and her husband made a visit to Pictou Landing in Nova Scotia where they met with spiritual medium Alan Hatfield.
“Everyone’s been telling me to go see him,” she says.
Mandy says she’s talked with Alan several times since her son went missing, even in the early days of Chris’ disappearance. But in those first few hazy days, she explains she wasn’t in any rush to meet with any mediums because the family believed they would be able to locate Chris.
During her recent session with Alan – who is known for bringing people comfort and closure by drawing out the voices of their loved ones from the other side – Mandy says she was able to hear a voice that sounded much like her son’s.
“. . .an accident, mom,” is the one sentence from the voice recordings she keeps playing over in her head. She says the way he said “mom” has her believing it could have been Chris.
The medium also reassured her that her son will eventually be found and he doesn’t believe foul play was involved in his disappearance – he said Chris was trying to make it back home when he fell and hit his head.
“He feels it was an accident . . . that he took off and he knows it was stupid of him to take off. He says he’s passed, that it was a head injury but he’s at peace. He’s not hurting.”
This revelation has given her a tiny bit of comfort, although she says she still won’t rest until he’s found.
“I’d rather believe it was an accident or that he ran away for a while than that someone murdered him or he’s being held somewhere being tortured,” she says.
Isaac says the visit with the medium has given the family some hope, “that we find him soon so we can bring him home.”
But they’re not sure where to look next, he says, noting that family, friends and community members have spent the past six weeks searching for any sign of Chris, feeling like they’ve explored everywhere they could. The local ATV clubs have even driven the trails as part of the search, all the way from Cookville to Memramcook and back through to Sackville.
“Everybody wants to go and look but we don’t know where to start.”
And the snowstorms that have come within the past two weeks have presented even more of a challenge, particularly as the news of Chris’ disappearance is waning.
“We’re not giving up on him but the weather is certainly not cooperating,” says Isaac.
The family continues to be grateful for the amazing support they’ve received during their stays in Sackville, saying there are so many people who want to help.
“I can’t believe how nice this town’s been to us,” says Isaac. “And we just want to say thank you to the community . . . for their generosity, their kindness and their prayers.”
Described as aboriginal, six feet tall, 180 lbs, with short dark brown hair and brown eyes, Chris was said to be wearing a shiny bright blue zip-up hoodie, jeans and flip-flops when he went missing.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the RCMP at 1-888-506-RCMP (7267) or N.B. Crime Stoppers online at crimenb.ca or 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). The RCMP is continuing to investigate any tips or leads that come in.
The family is offering a $5,000 reward for any clues that might lead them to Chris’ whereabouts.
“If there’s anybody out there with any information, please come forward,” she said. “Any information, whether he’s dead or alive . . . it’s a mystery we want to solve. If anybody has anything at all, let the police know.”