Updated: Nov 26, 2021
UPDATE: W5 one hour special "Where's Dylan" aired Saturday, November 20, 2021
By May 5, 2020, only 6 and a half weeks into the provincial shutdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Nova Scotia had already suffered so much tragedy. On March 15, 2020 our province's first three presumptive cases of COVID 19 were announced and one week later, on March 22, 2020, Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency due to COVID. By April 5th a staff member of Northwood and five residents of Northwood had tested positive for the virus. By April 17th, three residents had died of COVID. Fifty more residents would die in the next six weeks. On April 19th Nova Scotians woke up to the news that there was gunman disguised as an RCMP Officer travelling the central part of the of the province (Portapique, Debert, Shubenacadie, and Enfield areas) in a police cruiser, shooting fellow Bluenosers. He murdered 23 people, including an unborn child. On April 29th, six Canadian military members were killed, three of them from Nova Scotia, in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece. Unfortunately, fate was not done with Nova Scotia yet.
On May 6, 2020, three-year-old Dylan Norman John Ehler went missing from his grandmother's backyard in Truro on the corner of Elizabeth and Queen Streets. Born on April 16, 2017, Dylan was about 3" tall and weighed 32 pounds when he went missing. He is a caucasian male with brown hair. His left eye is hazel, while his right eye is half hazel and half blue, split vertically. He was last seen wearing a green winter jacket with USA patches and a faux fur hood, a red dinosaur t-shirt, and camo jogging pants. The rubber boots he was wearing that day have been found (more on that later).
Dylan's parents have been interviewed several times. I have included two of their interviews and one with Ashley's mom, Dylan's grandmother, Dorothy, who was watching him the day he went missing.
About 5 or 6 days before Dylan went missing, Jason and Ashley got into a domestic dispute during which Ashley's phone was broken. A no-contact order was issued so Ashley stayed in the family home with Dylan's older sister and Jason stayed at his parents’ house. Police do not believe Dylan's disappearance is related to this dispute.
On the morning of May 6, 2020 Ashley went to meet a friend for coffee so she dropped Dylan off at her mom, Dorothy's, house around 10/10:30am. Jason had been messaging Dorothy, hoping to see his son. When he still had not heard from her by 2/2:15pm he went to her house only to be greeted by police officers. At first he thought it was in relation to the no contact order. Instead, it was the beginning of a nightmare. It was only at this moment that he learned his baby boy was missing.
Dorothy says she and Dylan were in her backyard with her dog, when she went to tie the dog on its lead. She turned her back on Dylan for maybe 18 seconds and when she turned around, Dylan was gone. She did not know what direction he went - down Elizabeth Street or out onto busy Queen Street. She started screaming and neighbours immediately came to her aid. The search for Dylan had begun. A neighbour even made a beeline for Lepper Brook but found no sign of the little boy.
Both his parents and his grandmother say Dylan had never been to Lepper Brook before so there is no way he would have taken off running with the intention of going to play in the brook. He would have made it there accidentally. Dorothy says you cannot see the brook from the street and the brook is actually behind her neighbour's house who lives behind her, not really behind her house. Another thing to note is it would take an adult a good 3-4 minutes to walk to the brook through the brush. If Dylan, who had only turned 3 years old two and a half weeks before he went missing, and who was wearing rubber boots and a thick winter jacket, had been able to make his way through the brush, it would have taken him considerably longer.
Dorothy's house is near Queen Street, a very busy street with a lot of vehicular traffic. Is it possible he wandered off in that direction and was abducted? William H. Gould, a volunteer with Colchester Search and Rescue, says they were ready within 20 minutes of Dylan's disappearance. They were not called in until he had been missing for three hours.
Six hours after Dylan Ehler went missing, one of the rubber boots he had been wearing that day was found caught in a shopping cart which was resting in a hole in Lepper Brook (indicated by the x in the middle of the map below). An hour and a half later his second boot was found stuck in the muck underwater, by the bridge spanning the Lepper Brook, close to where it flows into the Salmon River (indicated by the second x on the map below). The first red mark shows the approximate location of where Dylan was last seen that day.
The working theory of Dylan’s disappearance is that Dylan he fell into Lepper Brook, drown and was swept out into the Cobequid Bay. Dylan's parents and others are not so sure. Dylan's father Jason points out that his boots did not even make it out of the brook so how would his 32 pound child? There was also a test conducted where a mannequin, with weights added to mimic Dylan's weight at the time, was placed into the brook where he is presumed to have entered the water. The mannequin eventually made it out of the brook and into Salmon River, but Jason says in order to get it there, they had to remove the weights and push it through debris. On day 1 of the search, a diver who owns a company with sonar equipment showed up to offer his services but police turned him away. He has spoken with Jason and said, "I bet my company on it that Dylan didn't go down this river with the fences (piles of debris) that are in this brook. He wouldn't have gone through it." A Search and Rescue team from Texas had volunteered their services to come and help search for Dylan but in July 2021, they sent a letter to Jason (see below). They also do not think Dylan would have been swept into the Cobequid Bay. It is not the best copy so it has been transcribed below.
The letter is dated July 21, 2021 and reads:
To Whom It May Concern:
We are a Search & Rescue unit based in South Texas; we condust "Cold Case" searches all over the Nation and Internationally. As professional volunteers we donate our time, money, and travel expenses. Our operators are experts in topography that study the terrain according to the coordinates provided by the family/missing person unit. We have analyzed the terrain and surrounding areas coinciding with the coordinates where Dylan's boots were found. With the information provided we believe that this search is not feasible. There were no footprints where the boots were found suspecting that the child walked off or went into the river. According to the terrain, weather, current of the river, sand basins, beaver dams, debris, buoyancy of a 3-year-old child (averaging 30-40 lbs), it is almost impossible for the child to get swept into the bay. If the child walked off and was lost, the area is mostly urban and had no game trails. In that time frame a 3-year-old child should have been found within a mile. This is our analogy of the operation and deem it not to be a "search and rescue" mission.
South Texas Mounted SAR
While his parents are not convinced that he went into the water, they continue to search for clues in the Salmon River and Cobequid Bay. Jason organizes searches every single weekend since his son went missing. He hikes rugged terrain with a small group of dedicated friends although anyone is welcome to help search. In fact, more help is desperately wanted and welcomed. If you would like to help search for Dylan please join the Facebook Group called Boots on the Ground for Dylan Ehler. Jason and Ashley are looking for any clue at all that may help bring Dylan home. So far there has been no trace of him even though in a post made by Jason on September 20th, 2021, he shared a map of all of the places they have searched on foot and by drone.
Dylan's parents have not given up that he will be found. While they cannot rule out that he could have fallen into the brook, they also cannot rule out that he was abducted. If you have any information at all about Dylan Ehler please contact:
Truro Police 1-902-895-5351, 1-902-956-4171 or 1-902-956-0291
Crimestoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)
For updates and information on Dylan's case you can join the Facebook group IAMMISSING Dylan Ehler Search Updates.
JUSTICE FOR DYLAN PETITION: Canadian Crime Connect started a petition on Change.org calling on local authorities to allow the search for Dylan to continue in full force with the resources he and his family deserves. The petition also asks for the creation of the Ehler Alert. Please sign to get this child and his family a thorough investigation with as many resources involved as possible.
"We would also like to bring about a suggestion for an additional Emergency Alert System named the Ehler Alert to be enabled, developed to facilitate the rapid distribution of information to the public about young children lost in potentially hazardous environments.
We suggest that an Ehler Alert be enabled specifically for children under the age of 5, who have gone missing in a high-risk location such as near a riverway, campground or densely populated area, in an urban centre such as a mall or theme park. We believe these circumstances should require an instant public notification for the public to be on the lookout for such a child. When any child goes missing, time is of the essence, and sometimes assembly of search and rescue efforts takes up too much crucial time in the safe recovery of that child. A hazardous environment becomes evidently more dangerous for a young child that has been separated from their caregiver."