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Raheem White’s disappearance: Family says case is getting colder

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It’s been nearly six months since Raheem White’s disappearance from Toronto’s Junction was reported, and his mother, Rosemary, says she feels the investigation is starting to falter.

Speaking to CTV News Toronto by phone from her home in Jamaica, Rosemary White recalled Rahim’s childhood growing up in Brampton, Ont.

“He always got along with everyone,” she said. “Raheem is a wonderful young man.”

White said Rahim participated in minor league baseball and taekwondo as a child, before becoming a youth minister as a teen and developing an interest in music. Throughout his youth, Rahim maintained a presence in his local church.

At the time of his disappearance, Rahim was working as a local DJ and had plans to move in with his girlfriend, those close to him said.

With each passing day, White says she continues to pray for her son’s safety.

disappearance

Raheem was last seen on December 1 on Osler Street and the Pelham Avenue area of ​​Toronto around 3:30 p.m., according to police. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black pants, an orange hat and a black backpack.

Since then, investigators have found Rahim’s car with his wallet and personal belongings inside. His mobile phone is still missing.

Rosemary said there was nothing in the lead up to Raheem’s disappearance to point to her anything wrong, nor did she know her son was dealing with any mental health issues.

She thinks it has been taken.

Rahim’s former roommate and close friend, Stephen Coward, said he spoke to Rahim regularly before he went missing. The last time the two saw each other was on November 29 – two days before Rahim’s disappearance was reported.

“It doesn’t look like anything is off,” he said, adding that Rahim had visited him to sign employment documents in order to work hand-in-hand building sets for TV shows in the Greater Toronto Area.

“There was no real indication, no real indication.”

Investigation

While Raheem was reported missing on December 1The police did not contact Rosemarie that day. Instead, the police confirmed that they were the first to establish a line of communication on the second of December.

Since then, there have been a number of delays in Rosemarie receiving police updates due to staff shortages and redeployments.

Rosemary contacted Maureen Trask, an Ontario advocate for missing persons and their families, during the first week that Raheem went missing.

Trask told CTV News Toronto that she works as an advocate because her son, Daniel Trask, had disappeared in 2011 for three and a half years before that date. His remains have been found. During the process, she said she “realized how little service was available to families to help them not only understand the process [of a missing persons case]but to understand their role.”

After Rosemary kept her, Trask said she called Toronto police “immediately,” giving them a list of 26 unanswered questions related to the investigation on behalf of the family. Her first goal was to establish clear lines of communication between the police and El-Beidh.

According to Trask, it took about a month for Toronto police to commit to providing weekly updates, which they’ve been doing since then, although Rosemarie says the frequency of contact tends to vary.

Despite this, Trask says she is not punishing the Toronto police.

“This is not uncommon – in every jurisdiction across Canada.”

Although she was receiving investigation updates from the police, Rosemary said she was not asked to participate in a formal taped interview until May 11 – nearly six months after reporting her son’s loss – despite her repeated requests to do so.

“[We’ve been] They yell at them to do so, Rosemary said. “That’s why I had to hire a lawyer.”

When reached for comment, a Toronto Police Department spokesperson confirmed to CTV News Toronto that Rosemary participated in her first official interview with the force on May 11, but highlighted that they are in “weekly contact with [Raheem’s] Mother.”

“The Toronto Police Department takes missing persons investigations very seriously, and our officers are dedicated to finding people as quickly as possible, using significant resources from across the service to support our efforts,” they said.

“If anyone feels there is information that we are not aware of, they should contact us immediately.”

Rosemarie also says that there aren’t enough resources to investigate all the advice you receive, and by the time the tips are investigated, their relevance has waned.

“Oh my God,” she said, “I’ve seen so many views.” “There were tips every week, people text me regularly.”

“But if [Raheem] appears today, and [police] The letter does not arrive until after four days, [is he] Will you be in the same place waiting for you? I do not think so.”

Support required for families of missing persons

Trask says families of missing persons within Canada and police forces across the country need united support and resources when it comes to missing persons cases. That’s why she advocates for a national framework for missing persons – something she says has been implemented by many countries and ensures “accountability, transparency and consistency”.

She says it took six years of advocacy work before Ontario made it through Missing Persons Lawwhich came into effect in 2019, has expanded police powers to find missing persons even when there is no ongoing criminal investigation.

“Police work in Canada, at least for missing persons, is very much a matter of the judiciary,” she said. “So there is no consistency, and there are no established procedures when it comes to missing persons.”

Without a consistent approach to missing persons cases, Trask says, it is difficult to ensure standards are met.

“Consistency of practice is a concern and there is no authority in Canada that can enforce minimum standards for policing when it comes to missing persons – nothing.”

In 2019, the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (OFOVC) report To the Independent Civil Review of the Toronto Police Services, Based on Bruce MacArthur’s investigationIn it, he highlighted the often strained relationships between missing loved ones and the police.

The report cites a survey of Canadian families of missing persons conducted by the Resource Center for Victims of Crime in 2005 in which 64 percent said they were dissatisfied with the search conducted by the police, while 74 percent of respondents said the police did not keep them regularly. aware of what they were doing. The report highlights negative consequences, such as the ability to deal with traumatic events, when families of victims are denied information or not frequently contacted during an investigation.

maintain awareness

Regardless of the state of the police investigation, Rosemary says she will do everything in her power to raise awareness of her son’s case.

“I won’t say it doesn’t hurt me,” she said, “but I have to put it in God’s hands.”

“I need to keep awareness out there. That’s what I’m really looking for. That’s why I’m doing this.”

In the meantime, she is asking anyone who may have information on the case to come forward.

“I think someone knows where my son is,” she said. “Someone has to know something.”

Toronto Police are also asking anyone with information regarding Rahim’s disappearance to contact them at 416-808-2222.

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