Parents of missing man mark painful five-year anniversary

Bryan Braumberger's disappearance covered in Courier feature story in 2007

Ron and Janice Braumberger still have the clothes and belongings of their son Bryan, who disappeared five years ago June 1.

We still have Bryans things, Braumberger told the Courier this week. We even brought them when we moved to New West recently.

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The couple was out of town May 31, 2007, when the then-17-year-old Bryan went to hang out with friends in New Westminster to play video games, about a five-minute drive from the familys former Burnaby home. At about 12:15 a.m. June 1, Bryan said goodbye to his friend in the church parking lot next door saying he had to work the next day. That was the last time he was seen.

Later that day, the Braumbergers arrived home from holiday surprised their son wasnt there to greet them. The couple wasnt immediately concerned until they received a phone message from Burnaby RCMP saying their sons car had been towed from the parking lot of the George Derby Long Term Care facility in Burnaby. The car was found unlocked and with the lights on. Bryans identification was inside.

Ron Braumberger told the Courier this week since then there have been no solid clues as to Bryans fate. His case has since been turned over to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. Braumberger added investigators have told him its highly unusual for someone to vanish without a trace.

There hasnt been one thing this whole time, Braumberger said. And thats really hard to live with. Its beyond belief this has gone on for so long with no trace of Bryan.

Two days after Bryan vanished, RCMP, Coquitlam Search and Rescue and a group of volunteers searched the woods in the conservation area near where Bryan's car was found. The search and rescue team searched the area on three separate occasions with trained dogs.

Braumberger told the Courier in an earlier interview that a search and rescue officer told him that if Bryan was in those woods dead or alive, the dogs would have found him. His disappearance was explored in an award-winning 2009 Courier cover story, which investigated the mysterious disappearances of almost two-dozen young men in southwestern B.C.

Janice Braumberger often continued the search for her son.

"There was nothing in the car. There was nothing around the car. There was no sign of a struggle. There was no blood. There's nothing. Just his car," she said in 2009. "I don't think we're missing anything, but it's as if the earth opened up and swallowed him. It's hard to believe none of these men have been found. Why aren't there any bodies?"

Not long after Bryan disappeared, the Braumbergers were the victims of a cruel hoax. On June 18, 2007, the couple received an anonymous phone call telling them to check their mailbox where they found a ransom note asking for money in exchange for information on Bryan's whereabouts. The couple immediately called police. Three days later, 20-year-old Burnaby resident Shokhi Hossain was arrested and charged with extortion.

"It was a hoax, but it was really traumatic for us because for a while we had a bit of hope. When we got the note we said, 'OK, if this is a kidnapping, let's pay the ransom and get Bryan home,'" Braumberger said at the time.

This week he said the family is still desperate for any word on Bryan.

Its been really tough on me and Janice, and really hard on our older son.

Anyone with information on these or anyother missing persons cases is asked to call the 24 hour Crime Stoppers toll-free line at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tipsters could be eligible to receive cash rewards of up to $2,000 upon an arrest and charge on a tip they provided.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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