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'He's in our hearts': Family and friends still seek answers one year after Nathan Wise's disappearance

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It’s been a year since Nathan Wise went missing and his family is no closer to finding out what happened to him.

“We just want answers for Nathan,” his cousin Jason Babcock said Saturday. “We need to put ourselves to rest, basically, and feel good knowing that we could have him home and have that proper service if he happens to be gone.”

Wise, a 38-year-old man with Down syndrome, was last seen on May 12, 2023 in the area of Jane Street and Sheppard Avenue West in Toronto.

“We're just trying to cope with it day-to-day,” Babcock told CTV News. “If it wasn't for the church community and everybody on the Facebook group and their support… Nathan's name would not be still out there.”

While Wise was living in Toronto at the time of disappearance, he grew up in Waterloo Region and made many friends during his time there.

“Nathan is such an amazing person,” said Dave Weber, who was friends with him for over 25 years.

“He's missed, you know, because he would just be so delightful to talk to,” said Nathan’s pastor Gordon Wright. “If Nathan was here right now, I would just give him a big hug, and I know I would get a great big bear hug back, and that's all that would need to be said.”

There have been no confirmed sightings of Nathan but his family is holding out hope he’ll return home safely.

“We don't have anything yet to this day, but all I can say is if you know anything, please just tell somebody,” Babcock pleaded. “It's been very stressful on my family. We've been doing a lot of counseling and the impact on my children, on my daughter and my nephew, [they have been] having a lot of issues.”

Police are looking for 37-year-old Nathan, last seen in Toronto on Friday. (TPS)

One year later

To mark the one year anniversary of his disappearance, family members and friends held an event for Wise on Saturday at Woodside Bible Fellowship Church in Elmira.

“The main purpose of this, is remembering,” said Babcock. “I’m not saying he's gone. It's remembering Nathan for who he was.”

“An event like this is just so great for each of us to connect together, share a memory of Nathan, share a piece of hope with his family and his friends that are still looking for him,” Weber added.

Police are looking for 37-year-old Nathan, last seen in Toronto on May 12 (Supplied).

Attendees wore jerseys in honour of Wise whom they describe as an avid sports fan.

“Any Toronto team, any sports team at all, he loved. So we decided the best way to remember him is wearing sport attire,” Babcock explained.

In an email to CTV News, Toronto Police said there were no new updates on their investigation but they continue to urge anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers.

They also said they’ll be sharing information about Wise on their social media platforms so he won’t be forgotten.

“They still get tips in,” Babcock explained.

A poster with information about Nathan, a 37-year-old with Down syndrome who has been missing since May 12, is taped to a pole in Galt. (Daniel Caudle/CTV News Kitchener)

“That's really difficult to have no closure that way, but he's in our hearts,” Weber said.

Despite the passage of time, the pain of his absence still lingers.

But hope remains strong.

“What I would tell him is: ‘We miss you, we love you. We just want you to be safe and be with us. We're here for anything you ever need,’” an emotional Babcock said.

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