Family marks 19th anniversary of Pickering's 'Lost Boys' case, point to possible new clue
Published Saturday, March 15, 2014 6:46PM EDT
It’s a mystery that has haunted family members and stumped police for nearly 20 years.
Six teenage boys take a stolen boat out for a joyride on Lake Ontario after a night of partying and simply disappear without a trace.
Monday marks the 19th anniversary of the so-called “Lost Boys” case, a reference to the fact that police never found either the boat or the teens’ bodies. And as family members gather to remember the group of young men, a new clue is giving one family a glimmer of hope.
On the evening of March 17, 1995 six high school friends hopped onto a stolen boat docked at the Pickering marina.
Jay Boyle, 17, and his friends Chad Smith, 18, Robbie Rumboldt, 17, Jamie Lefebvre, 17, Michael Cummins, 17 and Danny Higgins, 16, had been enjoying St. Patrick’s Day with a night of drinking.
Police say the boys broke into two different marinas, stealing an imitation Boston Whaler in addition to a three-wheeled paddleboat taken the night before.
The teens are believed to have then gone on an early-morning joyride on the icy waters of Lake Ontario and were never seen again.
The last evidence of the group’s whereabouts is from a surveillance camera that captured three of the boys, Michael, Jamie and Robbie, entering the East Shore Marina sometime around 2:30 a.m.
Local residents also reported sounds of a motorboat around the same time.
By the next morning, a massive ground hunt was underway in search of the missing teens. Police from Toronto and Durham, along with the Coast Guard, a Hercules C-130 aircraft and a helicopter from the Canadian Forces Bases Trenton assisted in the investigation. Despite multiple searches, police came up empty-handed: no bodies, no pieces of clothing, no boat.
The only piece of evidence recovered from the lake was a five-gallon gas canister believed to belong to the Boston Whaler found by a fisherman near Wilson, New York.
Police believe the boys may have drowned and died of hypothermia in the frigid waters within minutes.
Nearly two decades later, Amanda Boyle, Jay’s sister, says her family has tried to keep Jay’s memory alive through his daughter, who was a baby when he first went missing.
“You can live your life by when it comes to his birthday, the anniversary, even being around his daughter and stuff. It’s hard, it’s really hard,” she told CTV Toronto.
Amanda says her family always kept faith that police would eventually get a break in the case and find Jay.
“It got to the point where I accepted that he was gone,” she said. “But at the same time I was hoping one day that we would be able to find him.”
Now, 19 years after the Lost Boys case went cold, Jay’s family has found a clue that may help give the investigation new life.
After speaking with a psychic, the family decided to search the OPP’s missing persons page.
They found a picture of unidentified remains that were recovered near the Niagara River in 1998. The image showed a pair of red Levi jeans clinging to the bones of a tall young man.
Boyle’s family believe those are Jay’s remains, pointing to the last picture ever taken of him the night he went missing where he is seen wearing red Levi jeans.
“I think it’s my brother; I just have a gut feeling that it is,” said Ashley Boyle.
“He is wearing, in this picture it’s not the greatest, but he is wearing a pair of red Levi jeans ,” said Amanda.
There was also a second set of remains found in the Niagara River in 1998 that matched the description of two of the other boys who went missing that night.
For the Boyle family, this was the first tangible evidence explaining what may have happened to the boys.
In the last three months, Amanda and her sisters have repeatedly asked Niagara Regional Police for a DNA test on the remains.
They say police have denied their request.
“I’ll be happy finally, not wondering where is he and I just don’t understand why they won’t do it -- I think that they should,” Amanda said.
For now, all the Boyles can do is wait.
The family is planning to go back to the Pickering Marina on Monday to mark the 19th anniversary of the case.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Colin D’Mello.