Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg cold case: Man with a limp 'missing piece of the puzzle'

Sister believes secret life is behind her brother's disappearance

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Corinne Staple has spent every day for the last three years thinking about an elderly man she has never met, because she believes that man is the only hope she has of ever finding her missing brother.

Corinne's brother, Brent Staple, was last seen on June 28, 2009, on security footage, leaving the Summerland Apartments at 77 University Cr. Brent, 33, was with an unidentified elderly-looking man with a noticeable limp. There has been no trace of Brent since.

"He just stepped out of the apartment with that man and vanished," said Corinne. "The man had a very noticeable limp, and now every time I see anyone with a limp, I just stare at them because I am always looking for that man. He is the missing piece of the puzzle."

After Brent went missing, Corinne decided to look through his computer and found out the pipefitter had many secrets none of his family or friends knew about.

"He never told anyone he was gay, but I saw that he was on a lot of intimate chat sites with men. I don't understand why he didn't tell me. I have friends in the community and I would have been supportive, but I don't think the rest of the family would have been supportive and I think that's why he kept it quiet."

Corinne believes the secret life Brent was leading was what ultimately brought the unidentified man into his life.

"I think the man is probably someone he met online," she said.

Corinne believes she and her brother were so close she would have seen signs if he was planning to leave.

"We would talk every couple of days. We would go for brunch a lot and spend a lot of time together. I was with him the day before he disappeared," she said. "We went for groceries and ran errands. I'm the last one to see him alive. He was excited to start up at a new job site. He had plans, and I know he wasn't going to just leave."

Det. Scott Wiley, an investigator with the Winnipeg Police Service's missing persons unit, said the case is still being investigated, and no body has ever been found.

He agrees the key to cracking the case is figuring out the identity of the elderly man in the video.

"We are desperately trying to identify the unknown male," said Wiley. "He is absolutely the key to the investigation. Brent's circle of friends was not very large and nobody recognizes the man."

Although still photos of the man from the footage had been previously released, Wiley hopes YouTube footage of the man, released by Winnipeg police, is what will finally lead to some answers.

"The pictures are just a very short glimpse, but in the video you can see the mannerisms and the limp. We need to find him, because other than that we have absolutely no information on Brent's whereabouts," Wiley said.

Although Corinne's brother has been gone since 2009, she said she is not giving up.

"Even if Brent just calls me and tells me where he is, I won't be mad. I just need to know that he is alive and well.

"I still have hope that he hasn't passed away. The rest of the family is not so sure, but he's not dead in my eyes."

david.baxter@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2012 B1

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Updated on Monday, December 17, 2012 at 9:14 AM CST: Added video.

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