Allan 'Kenley' Matheson: missing since September 1992
By Jennifer Vardy Little
When Kayrene (Matheson) Willis last chatted with her brother, sitting in his dorm room at Acadia, she had no idea it would be the last time.
It was around 4 p.m. on Sept. 20, 1992. Kenley Matheson told his sister about a huge party he had attended the night before in Crowell Tower residence. They talked about their classes – Willis was studying chemistry, Matheson biology – and made plans to meet up on Tuesday night to study for calculus together.
Everything was normal, says Willis. She had no idea her life was about to change forever.
Matheson was 20 years old. Less than two weeks before, the siblings from Glendale, Cape Breton had begun attending Acadia together. Adventurous, confident, loyal and hardworking are just some of the words Willis uses to describe him.
“A good brother,” Willis says.
Matheson was a bit older than the other freshmen. In the two years since graduating high school, he had done a lot of living, buying a motorcycle and travelling across Canada, where he worked in Alberta, planted trees in British Columbia and visited Belize and Guatemala before returning home.
“I think, at that time, 20 feels like five or 10 years older than 18,” she said. “The thing is, he would’ve followed through with something like attending Acadia, even if it was a challenge.”
The next day, a mutual friend told Willis that Matheson had missed his Monday morning class. She wasn’t too worried at first.
“I was trying to give him space,” she said. “I called him – there were only pay phones then, and you called the floor and someone went to find the person, but he wasn’t there… for some reason, I was trying not to overreact. I just thought it was odd.”
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Then he missed their shared Tuesday class and then Wednesday’s class. No one on his floor had seen him. That’s when she started to panic.
“That Wednesday, when I couldn’t find him, I called both my parents and went to the Wolfville police. My dad came down the next day. Friday was the official day they called him missing,” she said.
Someone reported seeing Matheson on Main Street in Wolfville on Sept. 21, near the gym, but Willis doesn’t believe it was an accurate sighting.
“I’ve always had a lot of suspicions – no one else saw him that Monday. Our mutual friends, the people he was in class with, they didn’t see him,” she said.
“I believe whatever happened to him happened after I saw him that Sunday.”
Twenty years ago, she said, police didn’t take his disappearance that seriously.
“It wasn’t necessarily, unfortunately, looked at like something went wrong,” Willis said. “He’d travelled for two years and the police seemed to think there was some type of misunderstanding or had the impression he’d just taken off… it wasn’t treated like it was a crime, as weird as that is to say.”
Their mother, Sarah MacDonald, still lives in the house where they grew up. The family hired a private investigator, who helped to search, but no trace of Matheson was ever found. He never accessed his bank account and nothing was missing from his room.
It really mystifies me – somebody always knows what happened. Sarah MacDonald, Kenley Matheson's mother
“In my opinion, Kenley was let down by every investigative agency and institution that looked at his case,” said MacDonald. “He fell through the cracks at every turn of events.”
Last month, Matheson turned 41 years old. His mother spent the day in quiet reflection.
“It’s a special day. I look inward; try to connect with him and his spirit, on whatever level he is. I try to honour who he is and let him know that I love him and to be at peace,” she said.
MacDonald says she won’t be at peace until she finds out what happened to him.
“Most of all, I want answers now. I know that in this realm, we don’t always get answers, and I might never know what happened,” MacDonald said.
“It really mystifies me – somebody always knows what happened.”
Willis hopes that someone will come forward.
“If anyone has any piece of information, even if saw him in those two weeks before he disappeared, it might help piece together what happened, even if it’s not directly related to his disappearance. Contact us, contact Crimestoppers, contact the RCMP.”
Last year, the case was added to Nova Scotia’s Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes program. A tip leading to the person responsible for Matheson’s disappearance could result in a $150,000 reward.