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This article was published 7/6/2018 (1323 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Under the hot afternoon sun, the Balaquit family trudged through ditches, making their way through bush and high grass, searching in vain for any clue that might lead them to their missing father.
Eduardo Balaquit, 59, disappeared Monday evening, shortly after leaving for work on the 300 block of Keewatin Street. His van was found abandoned in an empty parking lot the next day, with a window smashed in and his cellphone inside.
Those are the only clues the family has. On Wednesday, the Winnipeg Police Service announced the homicide unit had taken over the investigation.
Timeline in the disappearance of Eduardo Balaquit
Monday, June 4:
5:30 p.m. – Balaquit is on his way to work at a business on the 300 block of Keewatin Street, where he did contract work as an evening cleaner.
6:05 p.m. – The alarm at the business Balaquit was scheduled to work at is turned off, indicating he likely made it to the building and began cleaning.
10:15 p.m. – When Balaquit doesn’t arrive back at home, his wife, Lumie, begins to worry. Balaquit would always let her know if he was running late, his son Edward said.
11: p.m. – Lumie has contacted one of her sons, Erwin, to let him know she’s worried about Eduardo.
12 p.m. –The family begins driving around the city looking for him.
Tuesday, June 5:
5 a.m. – Edward, Eduardo’s other son, wakes up to text messages from his family, letting him know his father didn’t go home the previous night.
8-9 a.m. – Eduardo’s vehicle is first spotted by workers in a back lot on the 300 block of Keewatin Street. It is later discovered that the passenger side window of the vehicle has been smashed and his cell phone is inside. Police quickly rule the disappearance suspicious.
Wednesday, June 6
5:30 p.m. – The first official search party for Eduardo is organized by family and friends. Volunteers come together to search the area he disappeared from, looking for any trace of him.
So far, the family has managed to stay hopeful by keeping busy, printing and distributing missing persons flyers, and searching nearly around the clock for any trace of their husband and father. On Thursday afternoon, Eduardo’s two sons — Edward and Erwin — followed up on an unconfirmed sighting along the Perimeter Highway near Assiniboia Downs.
"We were out looking until 3 a.m. last night, then went home for a bit and got started again (around 6 a.m.). We had someone say they might have seen him out here. No one’s really looked out here yet," Edward said.
Last year, 10,990 people were reported missing to Winnipeg police, a spokeswoman said. The vast majority were located safely, she said, although she was unable to provide figures.
Eduardo has joined a small collection of missing people in Winnipeg who have vanished in the past few years, including high-profile cases such as Kevin Dilk, 50, and Thelma Krull, 57.
Next month will mark the third anniversary of Krull’s disappearance. On July 11, 2015, Krull left her Harbourview South home for a morning walk. At 7:23 a.m., she was captured on a neighbour’s surveillance footage for roughly 14 seconds. Then, she was gone.
On the second anniversary of her disappearance, police Const. Jay Murray told reporters it was believed Krull was the victim of foul play. Weeks later, a composite sketch of man reportedly seen with Krull that morning was released, with police saying they were treating him as a potential suspect.
In September 2017, Krull was declared legally dead by a Court of Queen’s Bench judge. On Thursday, police confirmed the investigation into her disappearance remains open and active.
Lumie Balaquit, Eduardo’s wife, said she's hoping against hope her husband's disappearance will have a different ending, adding that the family is following some tips and passing others along to police. "I’m not feeling good, but we keep searching. Someone said they saw him walking, same description as Eduardo, black pants, black sweater. We just hope he’s the one they’re talking about," Lumie said.
On Wednesday night, family, friends and volunteers searched around the 300 block of Keewatin Street, south of Tyndall Park. Police investigators were searching a body of water near the place Eduardo was last seen.
On Thursday afternoon, the brothers wrapped up their efforts near Assiniboia Downs, after spending hours searching and sifting through the debris left in highway ditches, hoping to find something linked to their father.
As they made their way back to their vehicles, Erwin could be seen doubled over, either from the heat or emotion, with his brother standing next to him overlooking the ground they’d covered.
From there, they left for the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, to join hundreds of others, to continue the search.
Active missing person cases in Winnipeg
The last time his wife saw him, in the early morning hours of Nov. 23, 2016, Kevin Dilk, 50, was sitting in his St. Boniface home in his pyjamas. By 8 a.m. that day, when his two children woke up, he was gone.
Police believe he left his home on foot without his wallet or phone. There has not been a single confirmed sighting of the former College Beliveau teacher since, despite significant search parties and media attention.
Dilk was described as the "rock" of his family by those who were close to him, and he was reportedly in good spirits in the days leading up to his disappearance. He is described as 5-9 with a slim build, grey hair and glasses. Read more on the case.
On the morning of July 11, 2015, Thelma Krull left her home in Harbourview South and started on a walk. At 7:23 a.m., she popped up on a neighbour’s video surveillance. Then, she was gone.
Krull, 57, hasn’t been seen since. On the second anniversary of her disappearance, the Winnipeg Police Service said they believed Krull was the victim of foul play.
Weeks later, they released composite sketches of a man they believe may have been with Krull when she went missing.
In September 2017, Krull was declared legally dead, allowing her husband to deal with her estate. Read more on the case.
Scott Hadath, 39, was last seen June 5 in Southdale, where he worked at a Canadian Tire. After finishing up his shift and leaving work for the night, he vanished.
A week later his mother, whom he lived with, made an emotional plea at a Winnipeg Police Service press conference, saying their family wants Hadath back home.
In September 2017, WPS announced it had found Hadath’s vehicle, a 2015 black Mini Cooper, but wouldn’t confirm where it was found. The vehicle was subsequently given back to the Hadath family.
Hadath is described as 5-10 with a heavy build, beard and hazel eyes. Read more on the case.
Zhimin "Maggie" Liu
Maggie Liu, 32, was a Winnipeg-based graphic designer who moved to the city from Hong Kong with her husband in 2014. Liu went missing Oct. 30, 2016, and was last seen at her Winnipeg home.
She reportedly battled with depression and was described as an introvert who had difficulty making friends in Canada.
Nonetheless, she was making plans for her future in the lead up to her disappearance, including planning a trip to fly over her mom from Hong Kong for a visit.
Liu is described as a petite woman, 5-0 in height. Read more on the case.
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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.