WINDSOR, N.S. — May 12, 2018 started out like any other ordinary day in Windsor.
The sun was shining, with partial cloud cover. It was a mild spring day, with the temperature averaging 10 C. People were busy attending events, getting groceries and going about their day-to-day lives.
And Tim Wells, donning his bright orange helmet and massive headphones, was out riding his bicycle.
But that’s where ordinary stops, and a mystery begins.
The 56-year-old was never seen again.
Tim, who was born on June 8, 1961 in Windsor, was last spotted travelling along Highway 14 near Card Lake around 4 p.m.
What happened to him, and why he was biking out there, is puzzling to Vivian Wells, his younger sister.
“I thought that if it was in his power to come back home, he would’ve come home,” said Vivian, still visibly distraught by her brother’s disappearance some eight months later.
To add to the mystery, Tim went missing the day before Mother’s Day — and according to Vivian, that date held a special significance for him.
Tim frequently visited his mother, Marion Knox, at the Windsor Elms Village, and Vivian says it’s highly unlikely he’d miss a chance to visit her on such a special occasion.
“The next day was Mother’s Day and he would have come home. I don’t think, wherever he went, he could come back home,” she said.
“He was her world, and she was his. He never missed a visit with her.”
In the missing persons flyer that was posted on social media and on billboards and telephone poles throughout the county, Tim Wells was described as Caucasian, approximately six-foot and 270 pounds.
“He has thinning grey hair, a scruffy beard and blue eyes and was last seen wearing a blue jacket with a white crest on the left side and an orange bicycle helmet,” the poster reads.
Tim didn’t have a significant other, and while he knew a lot of people, Vivian says there’s no reason why he would be travelling towards Chester.
He was living at the Victoria Park Guest House on King Street in Windsor at the time of his disappearance.
“He wasn’t totally happy for living there — he felt he could live on his own, but the reality is, he couldn’t. I think he was adjusting well, according to the (staff),” Vivian said.
Tim required medication for a mental illness and to manage his diabetes, which, his sister said, he was very diligent when it came to taking.
“He was very adamant; he needed medication for his meals,” said Vivian. “Any time he was at my place, he was always checking the clock to make sure he was home to get his meals and his medications.”
His diabetes came later in life, and he was insulin-dependant.
“It was life-sustaining,” said Vivian.
Search efforts questioned
Vivian says she’s been kept apprised of the missing persons case through the RCMP. Still, she wonders why the local search and rescue organization wasn’t called in to try to locate Tim when he was reported missing.
Staff Sgt. Cory Bushell, who took over the command post at the Windsor Rural RCMP detachment in September 2018, has reviewed the file and said it’s still very much an active investigation.
“Upon thorough review of the file, I’m very pleased to say our members have been extremely diligent in chasing down every single lead, meeting face-to-face with complainants, obtaining statements as to what they saw,” said Bushell, noting that as recently as last month, they looked into a report of a bicycle.
“In all cases, we were unfortunately not able to locate Tim but we were able to successfully either chase the lead down or close that lead off,” he said.
When asked about the search efforts, Bushell said the volunteer group wasn’t called in to search as there was such a broad area that Tim could have been.
“We have had a couple of consultations with ground search and rescue regarding this specific request. It is an excellent technique to help us find people that are missing, however, the limitations are when there isn’t a last known point of entry into the woods, or a last known point that someone was in a wooded area, it’s very difficult to deploy them with any measure of success,” said Bushell.
A police dog aided in the initial search efforts, and the police set up a checkpoint along Highway 14, alerting the motoring public to the situation and handing out missing person flyers.
“What we did do, because this is, unequivocally, a high-profile investigation for us, is we deployed DNR’s helicopter,” said Bushell. “We searched the length of Chester Road, the ditches on both sides, the wooded area on both sides and saturated the area with helicopter patrols in and around Card Lake.”
Still, nothing was found.
“We hope to explore other avenues when and if new leads come in. For example, if his bicycle was found in an area of the woods, that would change things with regards to ground search and rescue,” said Bushell.
Vivian says a retired search and rescue volunteer has been independently donating his time to comb Chester Road. She said she didn’t know the volunteer prior to her brother’s disappearance, but said he wanted to do something to help.
“Up until the weather got bad, he’s been doing a private search. He’s been pretty intense with that,” she said.
Vivian says she’s grateful for all the community support they have received.
“Actually, there’s been a lot of individuals who have gone out and searched on their own. We’d like to thank those people for doing that,” she said.
Still in search of answers
Vivian says she’s hopeful bringing Tim’s story back into the spotlight might help trigger some memories of people who may have seen him.
“It’s just to remind people that they might have seen something that day that they hadn’t mentioned to the police, that might jog their memory, that might lead us to a different direction that we haven’t looked, that we may find something that leads us to finding him,” she said.
“It’s just a reminder that he’s still missing. We need some information — somebody’s got to know something somewhere. He didn’t totally disappear by himself,” she said.
“I think somebody else is involved somehow. There’s another person.”
Windsor’s staff sergeant said the RCMP are working off tips and last known sightings and said nothing has been ruled out at this point.
“We can’t rule out anything, that’s not to suggest that we suspect anything happened,” said Bushell.
“Tim Wells was an older gentleman, he required medication and as such, that may have been a contributing factor as well. Police can’t rule out any factor which would lead to his disappearance.”
When asked how she would describe Tim, Vivian’s spirits lifted.
“He was kind, funny, friendly, caring. He had a big heart. He’d help anybody if he could. He’d love to help anybody. He’d go out of his way, actually,” said Vivian, smiling as she remembered her brother.
Vivian said she and her two older sisters are very concerned for his well-being, and hope, above all else, that if he’s still alive, he’s safe.
“For him to come home would be the best outcome,” said Vivian, adding that if he’s still out there, she hopes “he’s somewhere and somebody has the medication and he’s living healthy and that he’s OK.”
She just wants to hear from her brother again, just for peace of mind. The family has launched a ‘Bring Tim home’ awareness campaign that they hope will do just that.
Bushell said the RCMP are following up on all leads and would recommend people get in touch with the local RCMP detachment if they think they’ve spotted him, or remember something about the day he went missing.
“Windsor RCMP are deeply concerned for the well-being of Tim Wells; we’re equally as concerned for his family and their feelings. We’re respectful of the fact that this remains an unresolved matter and for that reason, it’s probably very unsettling for them,” said Bushell. “We wish we could bring it to a successful resolution quickly. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we haven’t been able to do that yet.”
Have you seen Tim?
Anyone with information about Tim Wells’ disappearance are asked to contact the Windsor RCMP at 902-798-8366. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submit a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca, or use the P3 Tips App.
Did you know?
It would take an estimated two hours and two minutes to travel 34.1 kilometres by bicycle from the Victoria Park Guest House in Windsor to Card Lake, which is where Tim Wells was last seen.