Volunteer crews with cadaver dogs search for missing man Ben Kilmer
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, August 27, 2018 6:23PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, August 27, 2018 6:25PM PDT
Three months after Ben Kilmer vanished under mysterious circumstances, a last-ditch search effort had crews once again combing over the Cowichan Valley for any sign of him.
Kilmer, a 41-year-old husband and father from Cobble Hill, vanished on May 16. His electrician work van was found still running on the side of Cowichan Lake Road with blood inside.
More than three months later there are still few clues as to what happened to Kilmer, despite numerous searches by police, search and rescue teams and volunteers.
"To be honest it's discouraging, and at the same time, Tonya [Kilmer] definitely feels relief that we haven't found her husband dead," family spokeswoman Shannon Wiest told CTV News Monday.
On Monday, specialized search teams with eight cadaver dogs scoured the brush of the Cowichan Valley to try to pick up Kilmer's scent.
The dogs and their handlers, most from Alberta, were flown in for free by WestJet and have been volunteering their time since Saturday morning, trying to find answers in the bizarre case.
A GoFundMe campaign launched to raise money for Kilmer's family after his disappearance helped to put up the crews in hotels as they hunted for clues.
In the end, it didn't appear they were any closer to figuring out what happened.
"Obviously we hoped this weekend would yield more results," said Wiest. "But this is a really highly trained team and we have a lot of faith in their skills and abilities."
Police have not classified Kilmer's disappearance as suspicious, but a retired police officer and family friend helping oversee the latest search isn't mincing words about what might have happened to him.
"Four things happened to him: He left on his own, he was murdered, he killed himself or he accidentally was injured," said David Hastie.
Searchers said the fact the dogs didn't find Kilmer near the area where he was last seen almost certainly means that he isn't there.
Beyond that, it provides little comfort and few answers for a family that is desperate to find some.
"It's been an absolutely nightmare," Wiest said.
She said one thing is certain—that efforts to find Kilmer, known for his big heart and zest for life, won't end until he's found.
"We will never stop searching for Ben. We will never stop searching for answers," she said. "We want him home."
No more official searches for Kilmer are being organized, but the RCMP is continuing its investigation.
Investigators have long-maintained that his disappearance is not linked to the deaths of Ryan Daley and Dan Archbald, two men who went missing the same day Kilmer was last seen.
The pair were later found dead near Ucluelet and their deaths are being investigated as a homicide. No charges have been announced in that case.
Anyone with information on Kilmer's whereabouts is asked to call RCMP at 250-748-5522 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.