The search for 49-year-old retired corrections officer and father of three, Leo Coutu, continues in Dracut, so I’m posting his photograph once again, as well as a story my co-worker Evan Lips put together on the ongoing search today.
Evan’s story is here:
By Evan Lips
TYNGSBORO — Nearly seven days have passed and still they search for Leo Coutu.
They’ve looked behind almost every thicket, under every culvert and even inside nearly every vacant house in the 49-year-old’s hometown of Dracut.
On Monday morning, the search for Leo resumed in a new place: Just over the town line in Tyngsboro, as volunteers fanned out across the neighborhood surrounding Lake Mascuppic.
Leading the growing battalion of volunteers working to find the Davis Road resident and retired corrections officer, last seen Tuesday evening, was Dracut state Rep. Colleen Garry.
“I know him from years ago, a friend of a friend,” said Garry, shortly before she addressed more than 30 volunteers who were willing to wander through July heat in an effort to find Coutu.
The search parties gathered at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Tyngsboro Multi-Service Center on Lakeview Avenue. Many volunteers, like Dracut resident Rick Masse, had never met Coutu. Others, like mother-daughter team Denise Huard and Ashley Doyle, knew Coutu’s three daughters.
The volunteers brought plenty of water and sun-block with them — and optimism.
“It seems like he’s just fallen off the face of the earth,” said Gary.
On the day of his disappearance, Coutu spent part of the afternoon mowing his lawn. His wife of 18 years, Tanya, has said she and her two younger daughters, Rylee, 17, and Lilly, 11, drove to her sister’s house at 4:30 p.m. Gary said the family last saw Coutu resting on his couch, dressed in blue shorts and a navy-blue-and-white-striped polo shirt.
Going for neighborhood walks is a daily routine for Coutu, family members have said. He walks with a limp due to an injury he sustained to his left leg, according to police.
Some of his favorite neighborhood destinations lie along Nashua Road, such as Mike’s Ice Cream and Dillon McAnespie Park.
The eldest daughter, 19-year-old Jacquelyn Coutu, has said her father left the house Tuesday evening with “nothing but his wallet” and added that he has “never done anything like this before.”
On Monday morning, Jacquelynn and Rylee thanked the volunteers for their support. Rylee estimated more than 130 people have canvassed the streets looking for her father.
One of those volunteers, Dracut resident David Soucy, spent the bulk of his weekend tromping through forests and over wetlands. Work kept him away from the Tyngsboro search Monday. Reached on his cell phone, Soucy — who knows Coutu through town Pop Warner football — said he wants to bring a military mindset to the search.
A National Guardsman, Soucy spent 18 months in Iraq. His suggestion Monday was to divide the town of Dracut into a grid. Each team would be responsible for a quadrant. A central office would serve as the command center.
“The one thing you never do is leave a man behind,” he said. “This is a community and we need to take care of each other.”
Soucy said he spent a lot of time on Sunday roaming the woods near the high school. He added that he even looked into the windows of abandoned houses, just in case.
The volunteers are not alone. On Friday more than 100 law-enforcement officers searched most of the state forest and neighborhoods near Coutu’s home. The North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, The Central Massachusetts Search and Rescue Team, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, Patriot Ambulance, Dracut firefighters, state police and the environmental police have also lent their services.
Gary said an Air Wing helicopter equipped with infrared technology used to locate humans on the ground was also summoned, in addition to other technology that can determine whether a body is beneath the surface of a lake or pond.
“The hardest thing is the feeling of not knowing,” Gary added.
Jacquelyn Coutu posted in a Facebook group organized to help find Coutu yesterday that there are no search plans for Tuesday or Wednesday, but that the family is asking everyone to go out into their own neighborhoods and look around a little.
Anyone with information on Coutu’s whereabouts is asked to call Dracut Police immediately at 978.957.2123.
Click here to visit the Facebook page dedicated to the search.
Click here to download the latest press release from Dracut Police regarding the search.
Also feel free to download and share the photo of Coutu that I posted above.