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The Disappearance of Yoseph Birhanu-Baynesagn

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Case File Overview

On the evening of Thursday, November 23rd, 2017, Yoseph Birhanu-Baynesagn left his home in Kitchener around 11:00PM and headed to Toronto. The 24-year-old had spent the evening at home with his sister, Yalem, while his parents worked their usual night shifts.

The next day, Yoseph called a relative from a payphone from Scotiabank Arena (or Union Station: both have been reported) in Toronto. He told them he was on his way to their home in North York for a visit, roughly a 20-minute drive or 30-minute subway ride away.

Yoseph has never been seen or heard from again.

At the time of his disappearance, Yoseph was approximately 5-foot-8 (173 cm) and 150 pounds (68 kg).

Case File Theories

Ran off to start a new life

Did Yoseph run off to start a new life?

This theory is often bandied about in missing persons cases, and sometimes it actually turns out to be true. But it is doubtful this is the explanation for what happened to Yoseph.

At first glance, though, it seems possible Yoseph just decided to walk away and start afresh somewhere new. For instance, when he left home he took his passports with him, as well as his wallet and some cash. However, Yoseph is just as likely to take these items with him on a trip to visit family. Also, if Yoseph used his passports, the police would have been notified.

Other evidence also suggests Yoseph is not off enjoying a new life somewhere. First, there has been zero activity on his bank accounts. How is he funding his new life? Second, it is extremely uncharacteristic of Yoseph to be out of touch with his family for this long. His family firmly believes if Yoseph was able to contact his loved ones he would have done so by now. Finally, it is extremely difficult to stay hidden, what with the prevalence of social media and the increased use of technology. Even if you do not want to be found, it is very likely you will be.


Did Yoseph leave home that night to commit suicide?

Yalem Metekia, Yoseph’s sister, told the media Yoseph “left a portable PlayStation with a password on a note for one of his sisters before he left in the middle of the night.” It would be interesting to know what exactly this note said; it might give some indication as to Yoseph’s state of mind.

Plus, it seems odd Yoseph left that night without saying anything to Yalem, or any other family member for that matter, about where he was going or when he might be back. By all accounts the family was close, and this lack of communication seems unusual. Why did he hide his plans from his family?

Yoseph not only left his much-needed medication at home, but also his winter coat. This seems to be not in line with the expected actions of someone going to visit family. A quick glance at a historical weather report shows the evening Yoseph disappeared was around -2 Celsius, not a temperature most people would venture into without a warm coat. Did he not bring his medication or coat along because he was not planning on being alive for long?

The most pressing question related to this theory, however, is how on earth did Yoseph manage to commit suicide and then hide his body so well that it has never been found?

Victim of foul play

Was Yoseph murdered on his way to visit family? Or during his visit?

Photo of missing person Yoseph Birhanu-Baynesagn
Source: Toronto Police Service

What do you think happened to Yoseph?

Yoseph’s family describes him as a “quiet, low-key guy who loves computers and a good laugh.” They love and miss him and will not give up hope that one day he will be found.

Yalem Metekia, Yoseph’s older sister, is asking the public to help find her brother. She insists, “Someone has to know something. We just want new information to go off to look into whatever hints might be there that we may have missed.”

If you have any information about Yoseph’s whereabouts, please contact Toronto Police Service at 416-808-7411 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Related reading

“Kitchener man ‘vanished into thin air’ in Toronto 1 year ago: Police”CBC News article

“‘We’re trying to remain really hopeful’: Kitchener man not heard from since 2017 last known to be in Toronto”Global News article

“Search continues for Kitchener man missing since November” article

“Police still looking for Kitchener man who left home in November 2017”Waterloo Chronicle article

“Kitchener, Ont. family still searching for missing Jewish man, one year on”The Canadian Jewish News article

“Historical missing person investigation, Yoseph Birhanu-Baynesagn, 24” – Toronto Police Service news release

Interested in missing persons cases? Check out the mysterious disappearance of news anchor Jodi Huisentruit or the vanishing of DA Ray Gricar.

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Published inMissing Person Files



  1. Michael Schneider Michael Schneider

    And why would he call family to tell them he was on his way to see them and then commit suicide? did he just want to talk to someone from family for one last time? why not just disappear or kill self? that last phone call is confusing. and yes would like to know what note said left on game system. sounds like he either made a fatal stop(buy drugs) or was mugged/robbed and killed. any video cameras of him walking in the area or of an event that happened to him? did he not have a cell phone? another strange case.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Michael. Thanks for reading and for sharing your insights. I agree that this case has many perplexing questions. That is one of the reasons why it caught my attention. I wish I knew what Yoseph said to his family member when he called. Did he explain the purpose of his sudden visit? Could the relative speak to his state of mind? There has been zero mention of drugs in relation to this case, so I’m not sure how likely that is, but you never know what the police are keeping back. As the article mentioned there was a camera that focused right at the payphone he used, but by the time it was found the footage was deleted. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was also the case with the other CCTV footage around the city that might have captured his movements.

  2. Todd Todd

    I always enjoy your posts, so was excited to see one this evening.. I lean towards voluntary disappearance with the ID’s all being gone, but, the money still untouched is baffling . He could have had some money hidden somewhere so was able to leave the obvious $ alone to make it appear as if he wasn’t alive. The medication can be easily obtainable if he took a little with and then when he located somewhere , was able to get a new prescriptions . Just a dumb guys observation, lol

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Todd. Thanks very much for your kind words about the site. I took a break there for a few weeks because my dad died, but I’m slowly easing myself back into things again. I sure hope you are right and that Yoseph voluntarily disappeared. It is weird he took his passports, but if he used them the authorities would have been flagged. It was never written anywhere that Yoseph isn’t well off, but for some reason I think this might be the case. There was no mention of him working, and I wonder how he could have been secretly stockpiling money. But I don’t know enough to say for sure. I agree he could have gotten more medication, but he would have needed a prescription, and in Canada this entails visiting a doctor, which is electronically noted in our healthcare system and easily accessible by the police. He could have gotten a fake health card, I guess, to avoid this. Anyways, your thoughts are far from dumb! And like I said, I wholeheartedly hope you are right and that Yoseph will show up one day soon.

  3. Todd Todd

    I’m sorry to hear about your dad! My thoughts are with you and your family!

    PS…. keep up the great work!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Todd. Thanks very much! All the best to you and yours this holiday season.

  4. Brenda Durant Brenda Durant

    So sorry about your dad, Christine. I actually lost my mom right before Thanksgiving this past year so I have some idea of what you’re coping with.
    The missing person cases are the ones I can’t wrap my head around. I have such compassion for the families who are left in limbo not knowing what happened to their loved ones. This case is another true head-scratcher. Thank you for working to get these cases noticed for those families!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Brenda. Thanks for your kind words. And I am so sorry to hear about your mom. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hear you. Missing person cases are real heartbreakers. I can’t imagine going through life never knowing what happened to a loved one. Thanks for reading!

  5. Spoof Spoof

    I believe he got radicalised online and went and fought for ISIS

  6. Chris Jones Chris Jones

    Is it possible he’s a victim of Bruce McArthur?

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Chris. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. There’s been no talk in the press of a connection between the cases, but you never know.

  7. Karen Anne Bell-Booth Karen Anne Bell-Booth

    A very mysterious disappearance indeed. So much more information needed for it to be solved though I think. For instance the message he left for his sister.
    I wonder if his phone records have been requested to see calls, text history and location? 2017 I presume that he would have had a mobile. If so why was he calling from a payphone? Article says he left at 11pm at night and called a relative the next day. So where was he in between? It could have been after midnight to be next day but then I feel unlikely to call a relative in the middle of the night unless in trouble. Calls that late tend to make people worry so I’m thinking the next day means in the morning sometime. If that’s the case where did he spend the night? At 24 most young men are dating or have partners which neither are mentioned which I find unusual. Was he seeing someone secretly, a late night rendezvous perhaps? Maybe he was gay and didn’t want his family to know. It seems premeditated to leave a locked message for his sister and take passports. A far out there theory is his lover may have wanted him to come out of the closet and he was unwilling to. Could he have silenced this person and disappeared? I’d check if there was any other missing or murdered/”suicided” male in the area at the time. I find it odd to take passports (generally people only have one unless they’ve extensively travelled and filled one), as most people have other forms of identification such as a licensed they use instead as if you lose your passport it’s more expensive and time to replace then other id and also if list risks identity theft. Passports are often stolen to be resold, they are also known to be doctored, so did he plan ahead and use to trade for a new identity possibly? If the call was placed to the relative in the middle of the night then maybe he called to get help to disappear? I would requestion them and in this regard as opposed to initial questioning which may have been looking at whether they caused him harm. I’d also check his computer search and chat history, and even Google account, surely there’s more information available to help solve this than what they’ve already looked at. Hopefully they can find some answers to give his family some peace of mind.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Karen. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts on this case. This is another case that’s close to home for me and it gets very little attention like the Trever Andrews case. I agree there are so many unanswered questions it’s hard to know what the heck happened to Yoseph. How heartbreaking it must be for his family. I think the police are holding a lot of information back, which makes it impossible to answer any of the excellent questions you brought up. Hopefully one day we know more…and find Yoseph.

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