Canadian goes missing in Dominican Republic after taking over local business
 Tables at Rocky's Rock and Blues Bar in the Dominican Republic are shoved together so the regulars can strategize about finding their missing friend from Hamilton.

"We're ground zero for the search," says owner Rick Johnson, an expat from Regina. "It's all anyone is thinking about."

The man they are looking for -- hoping for, praying for -- is D'Arcy Wright. The 46-year-old property manager recently moved from downtown Hamilton to the town of Sosua, in the Puerto Plata area of the Dominican, to live his dream of owning a business and residing in his favourite place on Earth.

One week ago, he left his office early, visited with a friend, went to the beach and a bar. Then he vanished.

Family, friends, police and government officials in Canada and the Dominican are scouring the streets and the Internet looking for any trace of D'Arcy. The only sign of him at all in seven days has been two aborted calls from his iPhone. One on Thursday morning to his office, the other on Saturday night to Rocky's. Both calls were disconnected before they were answered.

Phone calls and e-mails are a lifeline now between D'Arcy's loved ones in Hamilton and those in Sosua. The phone rings often at the east Mountain home of Trish Suzuki, his sister. Sometimes it's a friend of D'Arcy's from the Dominican whom she has never met, offering support and suggestions. Or an Ottawa bureaucrat telling her why they can't do more to help.

Once, it is her mother, Helen, who lives two blocks away but is too emotional to take part in an interview.

"She wants you to mention our father, who passed away 20 years ago, was Reverend James Charles Wright, an Anglican minister."

D'Arcy is the eldest of the close-knit children. Trish is 42, Andrea Wright, 37, lives in Hamilton. Todd Wright, 43, lives in Burnaby, B.C. He and childhood friend Gregg Wilson of Hamilton have been in the Dominican Republic since Sunday to search.

Unmarried and with no children, D'Arcy loves to travel. In 2004 he took a vacation from his job at Homestead Land Holdings and went to Sosua, a town of 45,000.

"He fell in love with it," says Trish. "He came home from that trip and he said 'If I can find a way one day, I'm going to move there.'"

Several times a year he vacationed there, often with friends from the U.S. and across Canada who he met in the Dominican Republic. They kept in touch via chat rooms when they weren't together in the sun.

About four years ago he met an American couple, Sandi Stutesman and Curt Erickson, who ran a property management company in Sosua looking after condos. They became friends. When the couple decided to sell their business to move to Panama, it seemed the perfect opportunity for D'Arcy.

Oct. 14, he said goodbye to Hamilton and flew off to begin his new life. He moved into the home vacated by Stutesman and Erickson and immersed himself in the business. The accounting was overwhelming, and although the former owners promised to help with the transition, they didn't.

D'Arcy was working 12-hour days and becoming frustrated. But he remained positive. He told his family he believed this was just a bump in the road and never indicated he regretted his decision to move.

Last Wednesday, D'Arcy went to work in the morning, then left around noon to meet his friend, Montrealer Marco Beland, at Rocky's. They had a long chat about his business problems.

From the bar, D'Arcy headed to the beach. An acquaintance says he saw him leaving a bar there late in the afternoon. Later, D'Arcy's swim trunks were found at his home, so apparently he went back there, changed, then headed out again. It was later discovered all his identification was in a locked safe at work.

He would have been on foot or taking a taxi. His Jeep had been damaged in a minor accident a while before. Later in the evening, another witness saw D'Arcy walking alone along the main drag in town. That was the last sighting.

When he didn't show up at work the next morning, D'Arcy's employees became concerned. As word spread among his friends, concern turned to fear.

Police in Sosua took a missing-person report on scrap pieces of paper, says Trish. Police in Hamilton have taken a report too, but say any attempts to trace phone calls or check on credit card activity have to be done by police in the Dominican Republic.

The Canadian Embassy in Santo Domingo and the Canadian Honorary Consulate in Puerto Plata are in contact with local authorities.

The bulk of the work is being done by people who know and love D'Arcy. The group from Rocky's has plastered the town with posters, canvassed businesses, checked all the properties he manages and hospitals. Late last night, Todd was chasing leads that his brother had been spotted several times around Puerto Plata and mayb e disoriented.

There has been no ransom demand. No indication D'Arcy was involved in drugs, according to friends and family. And nobody believes suicide is a possibility.

"I think it is a robbery gone bad," says Beland. "D'Arcy has been robbed here before at gunpoint."

"D'Arcy's never been anything but an upstanding, honest, congenial guy," says Johnson. "He is very important to us. And now it's not looking good at all."

"We're a realistic family," says Trish. "We understand the distinct possibility D'Arcy is deceased. But we're not giving up hope."

 

 

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Go back | Date: 31 Dec 2009
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