The Messed Up Disappearance Of Adrien McNaughton

On June 12, 1972, 5-year-old Adrien McNaughton, his father, a family friend, and his three siblings were fishing at Holmes Lake near Calabogie, Ontario, Canada. As reported by Inside Ottawa Valley, the boy was enjoying the time with his family. However, he grew frustrated when he did not catch any fish and his line got tangled.

In an interview with David Ridgen, which was broadcast on the CBC Radio's Someone Knows Something podcast, Adrien's father, Murray, said his son told him he did not want to fish anymore, so he "went over and got the rod from him."

CBC reports Murray's long-time friend, Donnie Ring, was on the fishing trip with the McNaughtons. In Ring's interview with Ridgen, he said Adrien was sitting on a rock while his father untangled his fishing line. When Murray got the line straightened out, he turned back to where Adrien was sitting and the boy was gone.

In the meantime, Adrien's brother, Lee, was sitting in the family's car. As reported by CBC, Ring said Murray assumed Adrien was in the car with his older brother. However, when Lee returned from the car, he said he had not seen him.

Ring said everyone immediately began searching the area around Holmes Lake. However, they did not find any sign of the missing boy or any indication that he had fallen into the lake. As word about the boy's disappearance spread, several others joined the search. Unfortunately, Adrien was nowhere to be found.

The extensive search for Adrien McNaughton

While everyone else was searching for Adrien McNaughton, Donnie Ring left to contact the authorities. As reported by CBC, police arrived at Holmes Lake at approximately 9:30 p.m. In addition to local authorities, Canada's OPP and the Ministry of Natural Services were on scene to assist in the search for the missing boy.

Donnie said the searchers found "lots of stuff" along the shores of the lake and in the surrounding woods. However, "none of it was Adrien's."

Inside Ottawa Valley reports thousands of volunteers joined the search in the days and weeks following McNaughton's disappearance. However, the search was hampered by the rugged terrain and the "murky" lake.

In a 1972 article, the Mercury-Advance interviewed Captain Craig Mills with the Canadian Forces Base — which assisted in the search. At the time, Mills said there was "no sign that Adrien is, or ever was, in the area." Mills said 550 civilians had joined 250 soldiers to search the 74.8 square miles surrounding the lake.

The Mercury-Advance also confirmed members of several local diving clubs joined divers with Canada's OPP to search a number of local lakes, including Center, Brennan, Holmes, and Little Holmes Lake.

Search dogs were also brought to the scene of McNaughton's disappearance. However, their efforts may have been hampered by heavy rains. The Mercury-Advance reports the searchers were also assisted by a professional tracker, and local hunters who were familiar with the swampland surrounding the lake.

Authorities believe Adrien McNaughton was abducted

With no physical evidence, and no sign of the missing boy, the rumors began to swirl. As reported by CBC, most of the rumors suggest Adrien McNaughton was taken from the area against his will.

Some people suggested McNaughton could have been killed by a bear or a cougar. However, authorities believe someone would have heard the boy screaming if that was the case. They also believe some evidence of an attack would have been found at the scene.

Donnie Ring said there were also rumors that either he or McNaughton's family had something to do with the boy's disappearance. Ring said he was upset about the accusations, but he learned to "just ignore it" and to avoid conflict.

CBC reports one of the most popular theories is that McNaughton was abducted. John Gervais, who was fishing with some friends on the day McNaughton vanished, said he saw a suspicious vehicle in the area.

Gervais said the vehicle was a black and white 1955 or 1956 Dodge. He also said that the car was in "good shape." According to Gervais, there was a group of people, including "four adults and a couple of kids," standing around the car. He said it was "a strange car" that he never saw before or after that day.

As reported by CBC, the McNaughton family is still distraught over Adrien's disappearance. However, they believe a kidnapping by a family who really wanted a child, is the best-case scenario.

Adrien McNaughton is still missing

As reported by CBC, Adrien McNaughton's mother, Barbara, said it would make her "happy to know that he was not abused" and she hopes he is with a good family. Barbara said she believes her son is still alive "because there's nothing in [her] heart saying different." Greg, who was only 8 when his brother vanished, said he also believes Adrien "may have ended up with a family and had a great life."

In June 2009, the OPP released a new age-enhanced image of what McNaughton might look like as a middle-aged man. As reported by Pembroke Observer, the release of the photo sparked new interest in the case, and several new tips about McNaughton's disappearance. However, all of the tips were eventually ruled out.

As he was only 5 when he vanished, Detective Inspector Serge Acay said, "If Adrien is alive he might have only fleeting memories from his early years." He pleaded with the community to "take a close look at the artist's sketch and think about people [they] know."

Authorities said McNaughton's case is currently in the hands of the Renfrew County Crime Unit's Criminal Investigation Branch, and, as reported by Pembroke Observer, they continue to pursue any potential leads in the case.