Besner, who was supposed to get a ride home with Chinks shortly, never returned to the restaurant. "He knew he was coming home with us, and he just disappeared." said Chinks. "He left his stuff inside."
It was the last time he was seen.
Victoria Liverman, Besner’s cousin, told the Montreal Gazette that someone in the group had sent Besner a text to let him know that their ride had arrived. Liverman said Besner sent the friend a reply that indicated he was still outside the restaurant. But when the group exited L'Orignal, Besner was gone.”
Friend Ziggy Zalezniak said that about eight minutes went by from the time Besner first left the group to when they realized he was missing. Zalezniak said Besner's friends looked around the restaurant but found no trace of the young man.
The Search for Matthew Besner
Zalezniak told the Gazette that Besner had a cellphone with him when he disappeared, but that all calls to his number went directly to voice mail. Besner’s car was still parked at his home where he had left it.
Immediately following Matthew’s disappearance, 20 to 30 of his friends and family members scoured the streets at all hours of the night. They also handed out posters and put them up in the area.
“We also put posters on every corner, on every lamppost, on all the streets in the Old Port from McGill (St.) to St. Laurent (Blvd.)," Liverman told the Gazette.
Because no one had seen Besner and he was only supposed to be gone a few minutes, a public alert was also issued in the case. By Monday afternoon (12/20), approximately 100 volunteers were searching Old Montreal and the entire downtown area. The search included alleyways and snowbanks for any sign of the missing man.
Late Monday afternoon, an anonymous donor offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Besner being found. That amount was increased to $10,000 by Monday evening.
One man did report that he had seen Besner walking south on St. Alexis before turning left on a small side street.
Family and friends are struggling to understand the young man’s disappearance. "He was sitting here on the bench and was with other people the entire time except for a period of three minutes, during which he disappeared," said Chinks.
At 8:15 am ET on Tuesday, December 21, nearby workers spotted the body of Matthew Besner was found near the Lachine Canal in Old Montreal. The canal is near the Five Roses flour mill below the Peel Basin.
CTV Montreal has reported, “Montreal police Const. Daniel Lacoursière said Tuesday it appears Besner tried to walk from north to south across the frozen canal but fell through the thin ice at least "two or three times." Lacoursière said there were no signs of violence or foul play, and there is no reason to believe Besner's death was anything but an accident. Lacoursière said it appears he died of hypothermia.”
According to Lacoursière, "He proceeded to the south shore, but unfortunately he wasn't able to come up, because he was wet, and he froze."
Besner had been found wearing the same clothes he had on when he disappeared. His identification was with him.
Firefighters were called in to recovery the body because the ice was so thin.
About Matthew Besner
Matthew Besner, an employee with an insurance company, was said to live a very quiet and stable life. Besner lived with his girlfriend and had the same job for a few years. His family has said that he wasn’t one to party, leave without telling anyone, and certainly would never just deliberately walk out of his loved ones’ lives. His friends also say he was a loyal friend.
"We don't know why he went missing," Const. Raphael Bergeron told CBC News. "This man was not known to police. He had a very quiet life. He had a good job."
Besner did not have a criminal record, and he was not known to be suffering any mental health problems. There were no signs to explain his sudden disappearance. Ziggy Zalezniak, a friend of Besner's family, told the Gazette, “To know Matthew is to love Matthew. He's just a nice person. I've watched him grow up," Zalezniak said. "He doesn't have any enemies. He doesn't have any psychological problems or dependency problems. He's just a good kid. That's why we're totally at odds to understand what happened."
Our thoughts go out to Matthew Besner, his family, and his friends.
Name/age: Matthew Besner, 27
Physical description: 5’9,” 189 pounds, brown or dark blonde hair, brown eyes. He was wearing blue jeans and a black Canada Goose jacket with fur trim when last seen.
Last seen: 12/19/10, 2:40 a.m., l'Orignal restaurant, 479 Saint-Alexis Street, Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Recovery: 12/21/10 near the Lachine Canal in Old Montreal.
Investigating Agency: Montreal police, 514-393-1133.