Edgar Latulip of Waterloo went missing 30 years ago and was presumed dead, but it turns out it was only his memories that vanished.
Edgar Latulip was reported missing in 1986 from Waterloo region, Niagara Regional Police say.
Edgar Latulip was 21 when he took a bus to the Niagara region, where he suffered a head injury that robbed him of much of his memory, Const. Phil Gavin said.
Latulip went on to live in the area for the next 30 years, but recently began having memory flashes that made him believe he was living under the wrong name.
In January, Latulip revealed suspicions of his past identity to a social worker, who did a search online and discovered that he was the subject of a long-standing missing person’s investigation.
Det.-Const. Duane Gingerich, one of the Waterloo Regional Police officers who investigated Latulip’s disappearance, is thrilled to close the case. A reported sighting in Hamilton in 1993 gave him hope that Latulip might still be alive, but he knew the odds of a happy ending were slim.
“I had hopes that he was out there somewhere,” he said. “For us as investigators, this is great, this is awesome. It’s satisfying because most of these cases don’t turn out this way. You expect the worst when a person is missing for that period of time.”
“It was only recently that these lapses in his memory started to come back,” Gingerich said. “There was enough about it that we thought, ‘There’s something to this.’ ”
In January, Latulip came to the St. Catharines police station and provided a voluntary DNA sample. This week, it was revealed that sample matched a family member’s DNA on file with the Waterloo Regional Police.
If he wants to meet his family, he’ll get that chance.
“He’s been informed that match is there and now we’re working toward reunification with his family in the near future,” Gavin said.
Latulip’s mother could not be reached for this story. But police say they want to help her see her son again. In the meantime, there are so many questions about what happened to Latulip after he went missing all those years ago.
He told police he left Kitchener by bus after he left his group home. At the time, investigators suspected he might have gone to the falls to end his life and his body had simply never been recovered.
“I think he got on a bus, and the bus took him to Niagara Falls, and then he wandered on to St. Catharines. That’s when he suffered the head injury. When he kind of woke up, things were a lot different,” Gavin said. “This is a new one for me. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
In a 2014 interview, his mother said her son’s disappearance left a painful hole in her life that couldn’t be healed.
“This is always at the back of my mind. Having an answer would mean closure,” she said at the time. “When Edgar disappeared, I became quite sick. I had to take a leave of absence from work. I was near a nervous breakdown.”
Latulip spoke to a social worker Jan. 7
On Jan. 7, Latulip met with a social worker and told her he thought he was somebody else, Gavin said. The social worker found his missing persons case file and police were then called in. Latulip volunteered to have a DNA test done and on Monday, the results came back indicating he was Latulip.
Gavin said it is an unusual, but happy resolution to the case.
"When someone goes missing for an extended period of time, they don't want to be found and they're off the grid and we don't find them," Gavin said. "Or the other option, sadly, is sometimes people are deceased. I've never heard of something like this where someone's memory has come back and their identity is recovered.
"It is absolutely a good news story," Gavin added. "I try not to only think about his mother's side, but also Mr. Latulip's side where for 30 years you've learned a certain way and someone tells you and confirms to you that's not who you are. That's a lot to take in, personally, right, so there's interesting pieces for him as well."
'Now it's up to him what happens'
According to Holtom, who spoke with Latulip's mother on Wednesday, the missing man has yet to be reunited with her.
"I'm sure [it's] very overwhelming for both of them, for his mom and himself, and I'm sure they're planning a reunion in the coming days," she told CBC News.
"Now it's up to him what happens, and his family what happens from here, so we don't have any part of that. Our investigators, I know there were quite a few who handled the case, are glad to know he's OK."
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