December 21, 2010

12/19/10: Matthew Besner, 27, Montreal, QC, Canada

Matthew Besner
Matthew Besner, 27, was at l'Orignal restaurant at 479 Saint-Alexis Street in Old Montreal on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010 to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It is believed that Besner received a text message from his girlfriend, asking him where he was, and at about 2:40 a.m. ET, he stepped outside to get some fresh air and to reply. Joshua Chinks, the boyfriend of Besner’s sister, said Besner went outside because the reception inside the restaurant was bad. The message, according to the Montreal Gazette, was that he would be coming home soon.

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.


osu11 said...

Very sad and also very strange. I just don't understand why these young men happen to wander to the water. Prayers to the family and friends.

Jan Jenkins said...

Oh my God, will this never end?

director said...

Hmmm...if a guy was coherent enough to text people, don't you think he would know that crossing a creek with only thin ice would be a bad idea- especially if he broke through *multiple* times?
I would be very curious to know how far apart his steps were (across the creek). In other words- was he RUNNING? In my mind, the only logical explanation is that he crossed the creek because he was being chased, or had his movements blocked somehow. Perhaps there was a group that led him to the water, and when he felt threatened, they prevented any land-based exit? Perhaps someone was chasing him with a weapon, and he tried to take a chance losing him at the creek?
I seriously hope they continue to look more deeply into this case.

Lawana said...

director - you have a very valid point! Something seems very wrong with this situation as this young man was able to text and had only been apart from his friends for 8 minutes and 3 minutes from his last text?!

It is hard for me to believe that there are no eyewitnesses directly outside of the bar. I'm curious to know if Canada has a no smoking policy in their bars and restaurants as they do here in the States? If they do, there always seems to be a crowd of smokers outside a bar at any given time.

Prayers to the family and friends on the tragic loss of their loved one.

stephane said...

One local media (TVA reporter Claude Poirier) interviewed a man working at a gas/convenience store. Matthew Besner was last seen at 4:45 am (a full two hours after he dissapeared from the pub) entering this convenience store asking for directions on how to get to Verdun (a Montreal suburb). The attendant said that Besner looked confused and "not there". The clerk thought that he was going to Verdun by car and gave him directions that led Besner towards the water. Video surveillance confirms Besner was at the store.

Besner left the store and was seen by the next clerk who was coming in to start his shift at 5 am. He said that he saw Besner fall to the ground twice and thought to himself :this guy is wasted. The original clerk left his work, got into his car and saw Besner again at the corners of Peel and Wellington street, not far from where he ultimately fell through the ice (he was heading towards Verdun).

I believe that Besner, willingly or unwillingly, took some acid/LSD/ecstasy and started tripping hard when he got outside. He walked around confusingly and fell in the water heading towards Verdun.

My question is: Why has only one media outlet (TVA and Claude Poirier) reported this crucial time line? Also I have not been able to find an autopsy/toxicology report on his death to see if in fact he was under the influence of hallucinogens.

I originally thought he had been pursued by people but not after hearing that he was alone and confused at 4:45 am. He also had $200 in his pockets so why he did not grab a cab indicates to me that he was impaired by some kind of drug.

stephane said...

Montreal gazette article:

tanzer said...

I aggre with Stephane , why would any normal person would ask a direction from old port to verdun , Any normal person would just a take a taxi . My question is this ; why did he decided to leave from in front of the bar .. I mean come on you know your friends are inside , why would you start walking ? I think his friends have something to do with this! Or while he was inside he got a text msg to come out and some people picked him up and druged him and dumped him in the canal. lets say i am having drinks with my friends and i decide to go outside to smoke and all of sudden i decide to walk around ---------His friends are hidding something thats for sure.

director said...

I know when I was roofied once, I fell down and couldn't figure out why. Like, my brain was working, although I felt a bit drunk.....and then everything went black.
It's still a possibility that he was on some kind of hallucinogenic, but I think it's also possible that it could have been roofies.

depgrl said...

If it's not drugs, then it's a sudden schizophrenic episode, which I doubt. His friends don't look or sound like people who would spike his drink. What about someone working or dining at the L'Original restaurant in Old Montreal? I certainly will not be eating there!

Also, he was an insurance salesman, so he could have ticked one of his clients off.

stephane said...

Autopsy report has come out: Besner died of hypothermia (from falling into the water) and he had a blood/alcohol level of .26mg (legal driving limit is .08)
They say that with this amount of alcohol plus the cold temperature was enough to confuse and disorientate Besner so that he wandered 7 KM from the restaurant and found himself in the freezing water.

Media still mentions that he was last seen at 02h40 am which we know is not the case (as explained in an earlier post).