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Police plan to scale back search for missing Whitby, Ont. jogger

Members of the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT) scour for Jeffrey Boucher in the thick woods in the Taunton Rd. and Brock St. North area on Jan. 15 2014. The search for the missing Whitby, Ont. teacher Boucher began when he failed to return from a morning run early this week.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

As the search for a missing Whitby, Ont., high-school teacher entered its fourth day, police are widening the geographical area before planning to scale back their efforts later Thursday.

Jeffrey Boucher, a 52-year-old father of two, mysteriously disappeared after he is believed to have gone for an early-morning jog on Monday.

Despite an extensive search, no trace of Mr. Boucher has been found and police have been unable to confirm that he did, in fact, leave his home for a run around 6 a.m. as his family says was his usual routine.

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"We are hoping that he has perhaps walked away for his own reasons or has for whatever reason stepped away from his usual routines of work and family," said Sergeant Nancy van Rooy of Durham Regional Police. "For that reason, if he himself is listening or others that do know his whereabouts: Family, friends, the public, media, everyone's concerned for him. We'd like to have closure here."

However, Mr. Boucher's wife told The Globe and Mail on Thursday that she has considered every possibility regarding his disappearance, but believes her husband had an accident somewhere along his run.

"I'm just totally convinced that he's slipped and fallen. I'm totally convinced he's near here. And I'm totally convinced he's in the woods," Kirsten Boucher said, adding that it was common for her husband to run through nearby wooded trails.

She also said there are no clues that would lead her to suspect Mr. Boucher would disappear on his own and described her husband as "loyal," "trustworthy" and "not much of a talker."

Police are widening the search area on Thursday, but they said they will begin scaling back in the evening with a smaller team expected to continue looking for him on Friday. Mr. Boucher would not likely have been able to survive more than 24 hours outdoors in this week's weather conditions, police say.

"The investigation itself is active, it's ongoing, it is not coming to a halt until we find the whereabouts or have some determination to the welfare of Mr. Boucher," Sgt. van Rooy said.

Mr. Boucher, who has been described as athletic and an avid runner, went for an unusually long run on Sunday night that prompted his 17-year-old daughter, Bettina, to send a tweet, which has since been deleted, that said: "My dad went running 3 hours ago and he isn't home yet. Anyone seen a 50 year old man lying on a sidewalk."

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Police say Bettina went looking for her father on Sunday night and found him on the roadway jogging toward his home. When asked on Wednesday, Bettina did not elaborate on why she sent the worrisome tweet.

But on Thursday, Ms. Boucher said her daughter may have been upset because Mr. Boucher did not usually stay out past 10 p.m. because it interfered with the family's nightly routine. "She knows that I need my sleep after 10 o'clock," she said.

Ms. Boucher has told The Globe that her husband's personal belongings, including his wallet and his vehicle, remained at home.

Investigators are monitoring his email address, bank accounts, health card and passport, but have not detected any activity.

Ms. Boucher said she sent her husband a Facebook message in the hopes of reaching him, but did not hear back. And now after days of an extensive search that has covered roadways, parks, a nearby conservation area and commercial areas and has included aircraft, canine units and ground crews, she hopes that the questions surrounding his case will soon be answered.

"I can't sit here in limbo for I don't know how long," she said.

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Mr. Boucher is described as white, six feet tall, 180 pounds with short grey and white hair. Police believe he was wearing black and dark blue Mountain Equipment Co-op running gear when he set out on the presumed run.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Durham Regional Police.

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