The cellphone belonging to a missing Hamilton-area man has been found discarded in an industrial area in nearby Brantford, Ont., police said Friday, and the truck he was in when he disappeared was also spotted in Brantford, on the same evening he vanished.
As well, further details were released about the two men suspected of abducting him.
Tim Bosma of Ancaster, Ont., has not been seen since Monday night when the two men showed up at his home inquiring about a high-end Dodge pickup truck he was selling. The three then went for what was to have been a short test drive.
Staff-Sergeant Matt Kavanagh of the Hamilton homicide squad told a media briefing Friday that a day earlier the same two men went for a drive with a Toronto resident who had a similar truck for sale, but that nothing unusual took place.
One of the pair has a tattoo on his wrist with the word "Ambition" framed in a box, Staff-Sgt. Kavanagh said, adding that a tips line has been created – 905-546-2100 – and that the help so far has been encouraging.
"We have quite a lot of feedback from the public and from other police departments … there's some pretty good leads coming through."
He urged business owners in Brantford, west of Hamilton, to check their video-surveillance security systems for May 5 between 9:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Asked if Mr. Bosma is thought to be still alive, he replied, "We always have to hold out hope."
With the search in its fourth day and concern now steadily mounting, Mr. Bosma's wife earlier issued a tearful plea for his safe return.
Police probing the disappearance of the 32-year-old church-going father believe the truck may hold the key to what happened. The working theory is that he was abducted by the visitors.
"I beg whoever has my husband to let him go, please call the police anonymously and let them know where he is," Sharlene Bosma told reporters.
"It's just a truck. You don't need him, but I do, and our daughter needs her daddy back so please, please let him come home."
After Mr. Bosma went missing, detectives put his life and lifestyle under a microscope and drew a blank, unearthing nothing suspicious, no history of trouble and no clues as to where he might be.
The couple and their two-year-old daughter live in a large, comfortable house in rural Ancaster, an affluent community just west of Hamilton, and belong to the Ancaster Christian Reformed Church.
"It's a strange one," Staff-Sgt. Kavanagh said earlier.
"We've done a lot of background on both Mr. Bosma and Mrs. Bosma and there's nothing out there to indicate anything other than what appears on the surface – it's the first question we ask. This is a good family, very well supported by their church and community, nice people."
Mr. Bosma had posted a for-sale ad for his truck on Kijiji and Auto Trader.
He wanted $24,000 for the 2007 black Dodge Ram 3500 pickup – slightly lower than the median price for similar vehicles of that year and make – and on Monday evening two men who said they were from Toronto appeared on his doorstep asking about it.
Mr. Bosma told Sharlene he was taking the pair for a quick demo drive and would be back shortly.
The trio left together at around 9:30 p.m.
Glimpsed by Ms. Bosma, both are white males in their early to mid-20s.
The first is about 6-foot-1, 170 to 180 pounds, unshaven with short brown hair, wearing blue jeans, a long-sleeved orange shirt and running shoes.
The second is around 5-foot-9 with a medium build and dark hair, wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt.
Mr. Bosma was wearing dark blue jeans, work boots and a long-sleeved shirt. He had his cellphone with him when he drove away but it has since been disconnected.
Who the two men are, and what they might have done with Mr. Bosma, remains speculation.
"But we believe they were targeting that specific make and model [of truck] , so we are in the process of going back to Kijiji and Auto Trader and trying to find other complainants," Staff-Sgt. Kavanagh said.
The Dodge truck – licence plate number 726-7ZW – has been flagged to the Canada Border Services Agency and to other police forces. Meanwhile, dozens of friends and relatives are helping scour the area, hand out flyers and provide search updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Staff-Sgt. Kavanagh is optimistic the wave of publicity will aid the hunt for the two men.
"I think it's putting a lot of pressure on these people," he said.
The smart thing for the pair to do, he said, would be to retain lawyers and get in touch with police. "The most important thing is the return of Mr. Bosma."
His wife said Thursday her ordeal has been devastating.
"We hope and we pray that today is the last day of this nightmare," she said.
"One of the kids the other day said Uncle Timmy has been stolen and I cannot describe it better than that. Tim has been stolen from us. This does not feel like real life," she said.
"This only happens on TV and the movies."
Staff-Sgt Kavanagh said the Toronto resident who gave the two suspects a test drive in his truck the day before Mr. Bosma vanished was contacted by them shortly before on a cellphone that has since stopped operating.
That phone had been purchased about three months earlier under a phony name, he said.
Police are now making efforts to speak to anyone else who has been in touch with the pair.