Rain Boots, Turning Tide, and Finding a Lost Boy
Later in the week, in a video that has now been watched tens of thousands of times, Jada Brooke lit the flames. He spoke to a member of Dylan’s family, he said, who was “on our side and agree that nothing is right here.” “I had a look at him being kicked down a flight of stairs… That was really verified by me,” he told the audience, with no evidence. He said I saw a vision of a shallow grave between two trees, 5 or 6 feet apart, on a property that also had a red and white truck. Bringing a Truro resident named Dawn to a farm with a red and white horse trailer. Inspired, a band of residents entered the trailer. They found a pile of dried hay, which Brooke called suspicious because of its lack of mold. Brooke triumphantly points out that the trailer, which sits in front of a stand in the trees, proves that her vision is correct. “If I’m just going to be quiet or have something in the group, just remember, I have six kids of my own, I’m four in home school. I’m really involved mom. My kids won’t disappear, you know what I mean? ”
The abuse spilled over into accusations about the couple’s parenting. Jason received a scam ransom note from online trolls; one was accompanied by a doctor’s photograph of Dylan’s face, bruised with bruises on his right eye and deep stab wounds to the lip. “You have to transfer 3 bitcoins,” the message reads, “within 72 hours.” The sender, a Facebook account by the name of Brad, tells Jason that he will release his son once the transfer is made, and if not, he will never see it again. “You have 3 days to save Dylan’s life,” he wrote.
After six days, with no new evidence-no footprints or debris or credible findings-police stopped their search. Nothing but rain boots. But Jason didn’t stop. He walks to the creek bed every day, bringing in many locals to help. The GoFundMe page will collect about $ 12,500 for the family. Ashley and Jason offer it as a reward for any information.
Jason provided lapel pins, a blue ribbon and a green ribbon attached. She handed over the key chains that carried her son’s face. He ordered Dylan’s bumper stickers looking up at tall, unequal eyes scanning the sky. “Do you want a swag?” sad he asked me, the first time we met. She gave me a green and blue bracelet and a sticker. Maybe, he said, if I put it in my car back home, two provinces, someone would see it and call a vision.
In Canada, parents receive benefits if one of their children goes missing or dies in a probable crime. Because local police did not write the incident as a crime, Ashley and Jason did not qualify. “No one gives you a brochure on how to be a lost mother,” Ashley said. In October, when the lockdown in the province lifted and the store reopened, he returned to work.
For months, Facebook Group members examined little evidence in the case, chewing on details such as bolts that harden chewing gum. It’s a confusing, dystopian fun house of rumor and speculation. Theories rage: For the most part, the grandmother’s story hasn’t been traced. Some believe he was covering for his daughter. That the family was collecting money on a GoFundMe page meant they fired Dylan because they needed the money-for drinking or drugs or both. At one time, the ranks of the groups topped 23,000 people, equal to the entire population of Truro.
In late September 2020, harassment and threats became so bad that a member of the group began researching the laws governing cyberbullying in the province and even contacted a local attorney named Allison Harris. Harris knew about the missing boy-Dylan’s story was in the news a few weeks after his disappearance-but he was shocked to learn about the abuse that gave birth to the online community. Just a year and a half without a law school, Harris has shown an air of helplessness. He speaks in cut, precise sentences, and even his smile is as exact as if it reveals a perfect gap between his front teeth. Harris is just one of two attorneys in the province arguing personal injury cases online in court. He told the group member to contact Ashley and Jason and, after hearing their story, offered him pro bono services.
The three of them worked together to document thousands of abusive screenshots, hundreds of horrific messages, dozens of death threats. They wrote letters to managers of two of the Facebook groups, asking them to stop. At first, equally reluctant, either changed his mind after being the target of a harassment campaign within his own group. “This case shocked me,” Harris said. “Instead of being appreciated that they are doing harm and damage, as they feel they have a right to have these groups.” (Still, groups are like a hydra: When someone is stopped, Ashley and Jason’s most vocal detractors simply start with untrue plume noms like “Holiday Precious.” )
The managers of the second group were local residents of Truro: a couple named April Moulton and Tom Hurley who lived down the street from the back where Dylan was last seen. Moulton, who painted the Cheshire-cat’s red hair and eyes, made sure he was doing critical work, his strong hands weighed down with silver rings on almost every finger as he examined the little case by case, releasing the whispered truth from the rumored fact, Hurley shuffling back and forth on his back. They didn’t know Jason or Ashley before Dylan’s story made headlines, but they came out as two of the strongest advocates demanding justice for the boy. They know as well as anyone what the loss of a child is.