On the evening of October 30, 1998, Jake had been partying with friends that night, drinking beers and horsing around by breaking bottles over their heads. At about midnight, Just was last seen walking home with some friends after a Devil's Night party.
On the way home, Jake decided to take a trail through the woods. His friend continued along the street and the two were to meet up at the point where the trail exited to the street. He was drinking heavily and was intoxicated.
A friend said Jake, who had been drinking, fled into the woods after being chased by a local resident as the party ended.
When friends began calling the house the next day looking for Jake, his mother knew something was wrong. She reported him missing that evening, almost 24 hours after he was last seen.
The problem for investigators has always been, now what? If Jake made it out of the woods, where could he possibly have gone?
Hampered by a possible head injury and under the influence of alcohol, did he lose his way and stumble into a boggy swamp, where he was swallowed up by so-called quicksand?
Although a marsh and quicksand were near the wooded trail, searchers could find no physical evidence to suggest that Jake, or anyone, had traveled near these areas in the days prior to Jake's disappearance.
Theories abound - some of them floated by psychic mediums hoping to help solve the case. One medium told Debbie Just her son made it out of the woods only to be struck dead by a car on the street, scooped up by the panicked drunk driver and whisked away.
Just, desperate for any clues, listened to the self-proclaimed psychics.
"Almost immediately one of the women grabbed my arm and said, "You know he's dead." "I was not prepared for that. Of course that is in the back of your mind but for someone just to say that."
In the end, psychics uncovered nothing solid, no credible leads for police to pursue.
"I haven't found they can truly solve or help," Just said.
Despite an eight day search, no physical evidence linking back to Jake was found.
When Jake entered the wooded area, he was carrying a knapsack. It has not been recovered.
There were hundreds of potential witnesses interviewed and numerous tips were follow up on.
In recent years, police have received more calls from people with theories than tips. One such theory has Jake deciding to follow a hydro corridor through the woods to the area of a Midland strip club, where he may have been abducted by unsavory characters.
Again, police have no evidence, no witnesses, that suggest Jake was anywhere near that area.
And his mother believes her 170-pound, six-foot-two son could take care of himself in an altercation, especially since had been studying karate since he was a child.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Ontario Provincial Police - Missing Persons and Unidentified Bodies/Remains Unit at 1-877-934-6363 - Toll Free in North America, 705-330-4144 - Local or outside of North America.
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