Body believed to be missing 15-year-old Bradford boy found: police
Published Friday, October 30, 2020 7:21PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 30, 2020 10:03PM EDT
The search for a missing 15-year-old boy has ended in tragedy after a body believed to be that of the teenager was pulled from a pond in Bradford Friday evening, South Simcoe police say.
At a news conference, Acting Deputy Chief John Van Dyke said the focus of the search for 15-year-old Siem Zerezghi shifted Friday afternoon to an "open field" with some "water features" in the area of Eighth Line and Professor Day Drive following the discovery of items believed to belong to the teen.
"As a result, the Ontario Provincial Police Underwater Search and Recovery Unit was called to a nearby pond where a body was recovered this evening," Van Dyke said.
The body will be taken to Toronto and a post-mortem examination will be conducted.
"We're disappointed that it's ended this way," Sgt. Dave Phillips said. "But we're going to continue to investigate to determine what exactly happened and tighten up those timelines (to) have a better understanding of the final days.”
Police initially said Zerezghi was last seen at his home in the area of Professor Day and Northgate drives around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 23. It was about a kilometre away from where the body was found.
However, on Thursday, police said they had obtained video evidence that shows him in his neighbourhood around 7:45 a.m. on Saturday.
Police had been checking backyards, fields and wooded areas for a week with the help of a drone, canine units, and officers on ATVs.
A command post was set up at Bradford District High School, where Zerezghi attended school. Members of the Georgian Bay Volunteer Search and Rescue, and the Bradford and Innisfil fire departments had also assisted in the "large-scale" search.
"It's a tragic time," Phillips said. "The community has come out with just an overwhelming amount of support. Everyone wanted to see this end in a different way."
While the search phase has ended, the investigation will continue for many weeks, Phillips noted.
That's why he is appealing to anyone who has surveillance footage or other information that could help investigators to come forward.
The public could also submit any relevant material to an online portal investigators have created specifically for the case.
When asked if the death is suspicious, Phillips said it still too early in the investigation, but they will be looking into all avenues.
"This has evolved very rapidly this afternoon into this evening," he said, adding that they will have further information on Monday.
The family has been notified and they are "understandably, very upset," Phillips said.
"This is not the outcome that anyone was hoping for, especially his family. We have officers with the family right now supporting them."
Police said the family moved to the town two years ago.
"They are just amazed by the amount of support from the community," Phillips said. "It means a lot to them."
In a statement, Bradford Mayor Rob Keffer, council and town staff have expressed their condolences to the family.
“There are no words to adequately express how terrible the loss of a child is to his family, and as a father, I can only imagine the pain that Siem’s family and friends are experiencing right now,” the statement reads.
“This community has come together over the past several days to look for Siem and to pray for his safe recovery, and now we come together to mourn him.”