LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Police in southern Alberta say the disappearance of a young family man late last week was a hoax.
Matthew Aaron Robillard’s relatives called police Thursday when the 25-year-old Lethbridge man failed to show up for work at a Scotiabank in nearby Picture Butte.
His car was later discovered with a smashed window in an industrial area near the Calgary airport. Media reported his keys, wallet and phone had been left in the car along with a strange package of cigarettes. He apparently didn’t smoke.
Investigators found Robillard, a married father of a six-month-old baby, Saturday morning in a Calgary hotel. They say they are considering whether to lay a public mischief charge.
“Matthew Aaron Robillard left of his own volition and took deliberate steps to cast suspicion on his disappearance,” Lethbridge police Staff Sgt. Ian Sanderson said Tuesday. “Police are satisfied Robillard’s family was not complicit in his hoax. They genuinely believed he was missing.
“Police are not seeking any other subjects.”
Sanderson said Robillard “was not the victim of a crime.”
The staff sergeant wouldn’t reveal why the man wanted to disappear.
The case brings to mind a high-profile disappearance that also happened in Lethbridge.
A decade ago, city alderwoman Dar Heatherington made international headlines for faking her disappearance. The married mother vanished while in Montana on city business and was found three days later in Las Vegas. She claimed she had been drugged and abducted, but later recanted the story and was convicted of public mischief.
She was also convicted of inventing a stalker. Following a feud with her colleagues about keeping her job, she resigned from city council.
Sanderson said considerable energy went into the search for Robillard. About a dozen officers in Lethbridge and Calgary spent time looking for him.
“No resources were left untapped in this.”
He said he empathizes with the man’s friends, family and fellow church members, who also spent their own time and money searching for the man. They sent up planes and a helicopter scouring the area between Lethbridge and Calgary.
Media reports said Robillard was discovered when he walked into a Travelodge asking for help and staff called 911.
Thankful friends wrote on Facebook that he was beaten up, but alive.
“They didn’t know,” said Sanderson. “They went about something with all the best of intentions. And at this point in time, Mr. Robillard has to answer to his own actions.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the man found in hotel room.