The family of a missing Greater Toronto Area man is pleading for help in locating their loved one.
On the anniversary of Stephen Lapowich’s disappearance two years ago, his mother – Gayle – said not knowing her son’s whereabouts has been extremely difficult for her and other family members.
Lapowich, 30, disappered without a trace after arriving in Puerto Rico from Miami on March 28, 2011. He left Toronto a day earlier for a three-week holiday in Costa Rica. The airline however cancelled the flight and Lapowich decided to travel to Puerto Rico.
“Birthday, holidays and family get-togethers are the hardest times to get through,” the mother said at a press conference at police headquarters on March 27.
“It’s also difficult for me late at nights when my thoughts go to where he is in this world. I try to be optimistic, but I see-saw between that and despair, knowing the kind of person Stephen is.
“He’s so sensitive to family and other people’s needs. I can’t imagine him being anywhere in the world and not letting us know everything is alright. This is not Stephen.”
The family matriarch issued a special appeal to flight attendants for help in finding her son.
“I know you travel the world and sometimes you stop over in cities for two and three days,” she said.
“If you could download a picture of Stephen and keep your eyes open, I would appreciate it.”
Det. Const. Clayton White of 33 Division said Toronto Police has received generous co-operation from Puerto Rico law enforcement, Interpol, Homeland Security and Canada’s External Affairs Dept.
“In addition, we are working with the family to make use of social media networks and Crime Stoppers to create awareness of the disappearance, not only in Toronto, but throughout the United States,” he said.
“This is being done with the assistance of Crime Stoppers USA and other Crime Stoppers, particularly in the Caribbean.”
White said information will also be disseminated by various missing persons organizations, such as Ontario’s Missing Adults Registry in Ottawa and the America’s Missing Abducted and Lost Persons Network in Texas.
“This has been an extremely difficult period for the Lapowich family and they have not only worked with police, but have offered a reward of up to $30,000 for information which helps locate Stephen,” White said.
“This reward is quite different from the standard reward offered by Crime Stoppers since the person who can help must directly contact Toronto police investigators. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers and will be eligible for that program’s standard reward if their information helps reunite Stephen with his family.”
White said the family has dispatched a retired Toronto Police officer, who speaks Spanish and is a private investigator, to Puerto Rico.
“He will inform the authorities there of our efforts here today and follow up on any leads that result from this initiative,” White said.
“He will also conduct follow-up interviews with a number of people to try to trace the missing man’s movements after leaving the airport.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact White at (416) 808-3300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637),