Family, friends gather for six month anniversary of missing Comox Valley man

Willem Rennie was last seen April 19 in the Courtenay area

Family and friends of Willem Rennie gathered Wednesday night at the Courtenay Exhibition Ground to honour his memory. Rennie has been missing for six months

Hannah Rennie remembers talking to her brother Willem about four-leaf clovers.

The siblings were sitting on their mom’s front porch. Afterwards, Willem helped his sister buckle her kids in the car.

“He said ‘I love you’ to them and he gave me a hug and that’s how he was whenever we had to say goodbye.”

That was the last time Hannah saw her brother.

The 25-year-old Comox Valley man was last seen April 19 in the Courtenay area, and on the six-month anniversary of his disappearance, Wednesday night, more than 75 family, friends and community members gathered at the Courtenay Exhibition Grounds – the location his 1999 blue two-toned Chevrolet pickup truck was found.

“It means so much to know that we’re not alone,” Hannah told the crowd who huddled together shielding candles lit in Willem’s memory from the rain. “With a missing person, after so long, people forget to ask how you are because they don’t know how to ask. It means a lot to see everyone here.”

Family and friends took turns sharing stories, songs and poems, but Hannah admitted afterwards the disappearance of her brother is “extremely frustrating.”

“There was point in time, (I believed) for myself that my brother was still alive, and now I don’t. There just isn’t the physical evidence to prove that, but that’s my view. And it’s frustrating to not have a body and have somewhere that I can go and remember him. I don’t think people just vanish without a trace.”

Comox Valley RCMP Const. Rob Gardner said investigators have been able to create a timeline prior to Willem’s vehicle being located but echo the family’s wishes that people need to come forward to help bring resolution to what has happened.

“Either way if he’s alive or not, we need to know either way because this is painful and it doesn’t need to keep going,” said Hannah, holding back tears.

Willem’s mother, Andrea, described her son’s passion for fishing, camping and riding bikes, and noted he is “a very loving, loyal and caring person.”

She said he was so proud when he told her he was going to be a dad.

“On April 2, we went for a walk – our last walk together. And we talked and talked, and I didn’t want that talk to end … he wanted to be the best dad ever to his little son.”

Working on and off as a labourer, Willem left for three days the weekend prior to his disappearance to work up-Island, but family members knew of his location. Hannah noted in April he isn’t active on social media, and while he does carry a cellphone, it’s prepaid – not a smartphone – and it isn’t always operational.

Willem is described as being 5’6”, 130 pounds with blond hair, blue eyes and a medium build.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Willem Rennie, contact the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321, or if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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