Rubens Mukja was away for 42 days before his family found his body. They say Peel police contributed to their ‘nightmare’

On a Saturday night in early October, Rubens Mukja, 33, walked out of the Mississauga home he shared with his parents and never returned.

For more than a month, the software developer’s whereabouts were unknown, but his family feared the worst. He left a suicide note in his bedroom and, worryingly enough, the gun owner appeared to be gone with several of his handguns he had retrieved from his safe, his family said.

Although the Peel Regional Police initially launched an extensive investigation into missing persons who attracted media coverage, the weeks continued with no news until, the family said, they were informed that searches would stop unless new information came to light – and that Rubens did not want. to be found.

Contributing to their pain, the family said they were devastated when police returned a copy of Rubens ‘note to them, with food orders on their backs – handwritten notes for oil dumplings and breakfast sandwiches – raising concerns about officers’ credibility, Eros said. Mukja said, Rubens’s older brother.

Frustrated with police efforts, Mukja – who left his job to search for days with his father – assembled a team of 25 people and launched a private search. On Nov. 13, the group pulled away near Tomken Road and Eastgate Parkway, an intersection about 10 minutes from Rubens’ house, and near where the family says he was caught on surveillance video on Oct. 2, the night he disappeared.

According to Mukja, it was an area that police said they searched thoroughly on foot and with dogs.

Within two hours, searchers made a gruesome discovery: Rubens’ decomposed body lay in a field just off Tomken Road, not far from Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School and the command post erected by Peel police. It looked like he had shot himself – and with him were four handguns, the family said.

“It’s past a nightmare,” Mukja said in an interview with the Star. “It’s unbelievable. I really do not have words to describe it to you. “

The Mukja family says they are concerned about the police’s handling of the case and wonder how Rubens’ body could have been missed during the search. While his body lay in an open field, his family remained uncertain for weeks whether he was still alive; meanwhile, they are upset that his guns are sitting next to him all the time, which poses a serious risk to public safety.

The office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), Ontario’s police watchdog, has opened an investigation into the incident after the family filed a complaint.

Peel Regional Police cited the ongoing OIPRD investigation as a reason why they could not provide an answer to the Star’s questions about the case, including inquiries about why Rubens was not found earlier and about the family’s complaint about the food orders written on his note.

A spokesperson confirmed that Rubens Mukja “was finally tracked down, but he was not tracked down by the Peel regional police.” Police assisted with the subsequent coroner’s investigation, the spokesman said.

After Rubens was reported missing, Peel regional police launched a search and issued a public alarm about a man in a crisis “possibly in possession of firearms.” A team of officers from a command post at Mississauga’s Westminster United Church, not far from the Mukja house, searched the area, gave media updates and encouraged anyone who saw Rubens not to approach him, but immediately 911 to call. .

Nine days later, police issued another public warning: Rubens was still missing, distressed and apparently armed. The service did not respond to questions about why it did not issue a follow-up notice after its body was found.

In a statement, Peel police spokesman Const. Sarah Patten said it was the power’s policy to actively investigate the circumstances surrounding people who were reported missing and “try to locate those missing persons as soon as possible”. Patten said Peel police are cooperating with the OIPRD investigation and will comply with any instructions arising from the investigation.

“While it is of course the goal of every officer that when a person goes missing, we can locate the person and return them to their families and loved ones, it is not always the outcome we can achieve,” Patten said.

“In each case, we have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine.”

Eros Mukja says he and his parents were blinded by Rubens’ death by suicide, which they believe was spurred on by a condition that left him in chronic pain and unable to sleep. After reading Rubens’ note after his disappearance, Mukja said he was convinced his brother had taken his own life; although he and his family hoped Rubens was alive, they mostly wanted his body tracked down so they could confirm his death and hold a funeral.

Mukja says his family provided the police with as much information as possible about his brother’s schedule and habits. Early on, Mukja said, he told police his brother regularly went for walks in his family’s Mississauga neighborhood, and liked to walk near Philip Pocock School, on Tomken Road north of Eastgate Parkway.

According to Mukja, police told his family Rubens had indeed been spotted in the area: on October 2, the night he was last seen, he was caught on a surveillance video where he passed a nearby No Frills, then further north , walked near a bus. shelter.

Mukja claims police assured him they were looking closely through the area near his brother’s last sighting, an area that includes commercial buildings, fields and brush. Mukja says the police advised him not to go there as officers and dogs had already searched the area.

So Mukja says he and his father did long searches elsewhere, including through parts of Etobicoke, along the Applewood Trail and through densely forested areas. The family eventually hired a professional with a cadaver dog to search mainly wetland around Tomken Road, Mukja said.

“We went everywhere, and it was completely demoralizing,” he said.

By the end of October, and without any news, Mukja said his family had been told that the case would become a missing person’s file and the investigation would resume when there was new information. Mukja claims the police told his family the case is challenging because Rubens does not want to be found.

In early November, Mukja used Facebook to recruit a group of 25 people to conduct a thorough ground search of the last known area where Rubens was seen on a surveillance video, near Tomken Road and Eastgate Pkway. They started at 10 a.m. on Nov. 13, walking just a few feet apart and traveling north through a rectangular area that includes a soybean field.

It was just before noon when Mukja says he got a call from a friend in the search party: they found Rubens’ body. The gun he allegedly used to shoot himself was lying right next to him, and other handguns a bag next to him, Mukja said.

“I came right in his face and told him … ‘Do not go to the scene. Do not do this. You do not want to see your brother in that field, ”said Lyn Chapman, a retired Toronto police officer, in an interview with the Star.

Chapman, a friend of Mukja who was part of the search party that day, says he can not understand how the police did not find Mukja within days of his death – and why it cost a private search company to find him. .

“I was so angry when I came back from that search that day,” Chapman said.

Mukja said his brother’s body disintegrated to a state that it had to be identified by dental records, something that especially caused his mother anxiety, and led to even more delay before his brother could be laid to rest.

Rubens’ funeral was finally held in early December, more than two months after he disappeared.

Mukja also sent letters of complaint to the Peel Regional Police Service Council in which they demanded that they take the incident seriously. He said he would speak to the board during his February meeting about his experience.

“I want to know how it happened,” Mukja wrote in his letter to the board.

Wendy Gillis is a reporter in Toronto who covers crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis


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