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This article was published 6/11/2017 (1004 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The question has plagued a Manitoba family for the past three years: what happened to Colten Pratt?
Members of the missing man's family made an emotional plea to the public Monday, saying they believe someone has information that will lead them to a resolution.
"We’d hoped we’d have gotten a lot more answers earlier. The best I can describe it is suspended grief," said Jacqueline Daniels, Pratt’s aunt.
"Not having those answers to lead us to find Colten has been quite difficult. We feel someone knows something about Colten’s missing case. We’re pleading and praying for that person, or those persons, to come forward."
Pratt, 26, was last seen downtown at the Marlborough Hotel on Nov. 6, 2014.
Police believe video surveillance of a bus shelter at the corner of Main Street and Redwood Avenue from Nov. 7 between 12:20 a.m. and 1:45 a.m., captured images of Pratt with two other individuals.
It’s not clear whether Pratt knew the other individuals, or whether an altercation occurred.
"Without sound on the video I could not tell you what the nature of their encounter was, but video footage does likely place him at the scene with at least two other people," Winnipeg Police Service Const. Tammy Skrabek said.
Police are not releasing the video footage, or descriptions of the individuals on it, in the hopes a witness will come forward to confirm what took place. Police fear a witness’s account could be changed if they were to release the information prematurely.
Pratt, a two-spirited man originally from Long Plain First Nation, had been staying in Winnipeg with family and friends. He had been looking for work while volunteering at a number of organizations hoping it would lead to full-time employment.
According to his aunt, the morning he went missing, Pratt's mother messaged him, saying, "I’m worried about you."
Pratt responded: "I know." It was the last communication the two had.
Family members said Pratt had no history of disappearing for any period of time.
"We’ve been asked by city police if perhaps he was suicidal. What we’ve gathered, what we’ve talked about, is that wasn’t the case for Colten. He was job searching. He had plans to do some things out of province. He was actively looking for a job and volunteering around the city," Daniels said.
"He was in a good state of mind. Nothing came up as being a possibility that he took off or was suicidal."
Investigators have yet to determine whether the case should be dealt with as a homicide, although they haven’t ruled it out as a possibility. They hope reminding the public of his disappearance, as well as putting out calls for new information, will help move the case forward.
"If officers felt this was a dead end, we wouldn’t be standing here today. We are hopeful that with this additional information there will be some witnesses coming forward. This is a lead we’re following up on. It’s a lead we have currently that we’d like to pursue," Skrabek said.
At Monday's news conference, police said video footage of the bus shelter was obtained not long after Pratt's disappearance, but could not say where it came from or when they identified Pratt as being in it.
In an effort to keep his memory alive, family members went to the bus shelter Sunday afternoon, tying neckties to it — symbolizing his ties to family — in order to help raise awareness about his case. On Monday afternoon, a community feast was held at Thunderbird House.
"We never shut the door. We still have hope. Until we get confirmation that he’s not here, we still have hope. That’s what we need to carry in our hearts. We still carry hope and that’s what’s keeping us going," Daniels said.
Police are asking anyone with information about Pratt’s disappearance, or anyone who recalls seeing activity at the bus stop the morning of Nov. 7, 2014, to contact them.
Pratt is described as an Indigenous man, 5-foot-10, roughly 160 pounds with a thin build, short brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown plaid jacket and blue jeans.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
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