‘It’s still raw’: Missing personal file is still open for four-year-old Victoria boy who vanished 25 years ago

VICTORIA — The Dunahee family had just arrived at the school grounds for a football game when small, freckled Michael, wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt and blue sneakers, ran off to a nearby playground, his mother remembers.

When Crystal Dunahee turned around moments later after taking Michael’s little sister out of her stroller, he was gone.

That was 25 years ago. She hasn’t seen him since.

“It’s still raw,” said Dunahee in an interview. “The grief is still there, no matter how many years have passed.”

Southam Newspapers, Ottawa CitizenSoutham Newspapers, Ottawa CitizenMichael Dunahee, 4 shown here, disappeared March 24, 1991

The disappearance of four-year-old on the afternoon of March 24, 1991, from Victoria’s Blanshard Elementary School playground sparked one of the largest police investigations in Canadian history.

There have been numerous leads over the years, though none so far have provided any conclusive answers as to what happened that day.

In 2013, a Metro man bearing a striking resemblance to an age-enhanced picture of Michael willingly offered a DNA sample for testing, but Victoria Police eventually concluded it didn’t match that of the missing boy.

“We’re finding it really hard to believe it’s been 25 years and we still don’t have answers,” said Dunahee.

Peter Blashill / The ProvincePeter Blashill / The ProvinceMichael Dunahee disappeared from a playground in Victoria. But his memory lives on with his parents, Crystal and Bruce shown here with Michael's sister Caitlin who was six months old at the time.

Still, the investigation remains open into how the blond-haired, blue-eyed youngster vanished without a trace.

“In a lot of cases … that police deal with, it’s usually that one piece of information that we’re missing, and we’re just hopeful that we receive that one tip that we need to bring closure to the family,” said Const. Matthew Rutherford of the .

“Every file’s an open file until there’s adequate conclusion,” he added. “It’s still an active investigation.”

The Dunahee family continues to believe, despite the pain that persists.

“It’s like picking a scab off: you’re going to open it up again, and you relive it over and over again,” Dunahee said. “(But) the hope remains.”

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