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Mon, August 21, 2006
Missing man's family posts $5,000 reward

Hope it will spur those in the know to come forward


John Barrington Leigh shares a quiet word with his son Christopher at the new volunteer search headquarters at 8908-99. The search for for Robert Barrington Leigh continues. (Robert Taylor, Edmonton Sun)

One week after Robert Barrington Leigh vanished without a trace, the missing 20-year-old's family hasn't given up hope.

They insist someone must know something, and yesterday, they put up a $5,000 reward for information leading to his whereabouts.

"We just want to put some pressure on people who know something but haven't come forward yet," said Christopher Barrington Leigh, 32, Robert's brother.

Last night he retraced Robert's last known steps - departing his parent's home north of Whyte Avenue on a bicycle at 10:30 p.m., riding toward the river valley.

Robert disappeared after bicycling away from his parents' home at that same time last Sunday. He intended to meet friends at the folk music festival, but never showed up.

His last contact was a text message sent to his girlfriend.

Telus and police confirmed that message bounced off a cell tower near Queen Elizabeth Park at 11:34 p.m. last Sunday.

"Hopefully, he was heading home at the time, but we just don't know. He must have been off his bicycle to type a text message. He could have been in a car passing through the area ..." said a family friend helping the search effort.

Christopher said last night's retracing of his brother's steps was more than just another investigative method.

"We're taking some spiritual time, too, to try and reconnect with Robert by doing what we think he did that night exactly one week later."

His parents, Iris and John, have been working feverishly over the last week to direct more than 100 volunteers into the river valley in search of their son.

So many have offered help that the family yesterday moved their search party headquarters from 8009 102 St. to a larger space at 8908 99 St.

As for the family's emotional state, he said they're still hanging tough. He said two meetings with professional crisis counsellors thus far have been "fruitful."

"You don't actually want to stop and process these emotions, and I'm not sure we need to yet," he said.

But for a brief moment Christopher's strength betrayed him. He began to cry, but his voice quickly strengthened.

"We need to be out there, answering phones, talking to people. There will always be time to reflect - right now we're busy working hard, because we've not lost hope."

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