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The Disappearance of Yoseph Birhanu-Baynesagn

The Disappearance of Yoseph Birhanu-Baynesagn


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

Interesting 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.

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