Questions persist after Vancouver Island man’s body found decade later
The decade-old mystery VICTORIA of the whereabouts of a 52-yearold Vancouver Island man who disappeared in May 2007 during a morning walk in the woods has been solved, but questions remain.
The remains of Lake Cowichan’s Darreld Stanley Rayner, an experienced bushman who spent his life in the area, were identified by the B.C. Coroners Service. They were found on Dec. 22, 2017, in a steep and secluded area near South Shore Road, a forest service road.
“We never did give up hope,” eldest son Rick Rose said Tuesday.
Interest in the case compelled the coroners service on Tuesday to release the identity of the human remains before determining a cause of death. For that reason, the family has only partial closure, Rose said.
“There is closure in the fact that we know where he is … nothing will be complete until we have all the info.”
Rayner told his son on May 7, 2007, that he planned to take his usual walk in the woods with his Jack Russell terrier, Allie. Rose never saw his father again.
Within hours of not returning, the family became concerned, reported Rayner missing to the RCMP, and started to look for him.
An acquaintance reported seeing Rayner, who worked at the Youbou sawmill for 27 years, about one kilometre from the trailhead that he would have likely taken. Police found Rayner’s coffee cup at the trailhead, behind the family home. Allie was found that evening, running on a logging road.
The RCMP search — which included a helicopter, tracking dogs and volunteer searchers — ended four days later.
Rose was grateful for the efforts, but at the time didn’t think enough was done. For an agonizing three weeks, he searched and searched. He vowed the family would never give up.
“Until we find out what happened, we’ve got to keep going,” Rose told the Times Colonist in 2007.
“I’m just flabbergasted,” Rayner’s wife, Hinke, said at the time. “Something must have happened for him to not come home.”
Weeks later, a body was pulled out of the Cowichan River. It wasn’t Rayner.
As hope dwindled, the family’s search efforts were reduced to weekends.
Rayner’s birthday on July 14, 2007, just over two months after he went missing, was seen by the family as a symbolic day to scale back their search.
Over the next three years, about 20 witnesses were interviewed and numerous leads were followed, said police. Logging changed the area but no body was found.
“We have been plagued with rumours and questions,” Rose said.
When the body was found in December, Brent Rayner recalled how his dad was generous and funny and did everything to provide for his family — doing any odd job he could find after the Youbou mill shut down and keeping the financial hardship to himself.
The coroners service is still working to determine a cause of death, spokesman Andy Watson said. Police said foul play is not suspected.
Rayner leaves behind his wife, Hinke, children Rick, Melissa, Jeff and Brent, and five grandchildren.