Without a Trace: Fernwood man’s disappearance baffles family, detectives

Joan Gandza

Joan Gandza

When Daniel Gandza walked out the door of his friend’s apartment following dinner and a round of video games, it was as though he vanished into thin air.

After heading out between 2:30 and 3 a.m. on April 27, he reached his basement suite, located just a 15-minute walk away, near Fernwood Road and Walnut Street.

Police know Gandza changed his clothes. His hiking boots and keys are gone, though his cellphone was left behind.

His absence was immediately noted by his roommates and his employer; Gandza was scheduled to work the next morning.

“It’s going on two months now and it just feels like it’s longer than that,” said his older sister, Joan Gandza, of View Royal. “So we’re worried, very worried.”

The family has put up 300 posters in parks and neighbourhoods where the commercial and residential painter frequented or lived, including Beacon Hill and Fernwood, as well as around Mount Finlayson, Mount Doug and East Sooke regional park.

FindDaniel

Victoria police detectives have reached out to police and community partners in B.C. and Alberta, exhausting six to 10 tips, including reports of possible sightings.

It’s rare when detectives aren’t able to uncover signs that could explain a disappearance, such as mental illness, or a mental breakdown caused by a romantic breakup or a job loss.

Of the 30 people police have interviewed, all said the same thing about the soft-spoken, generous man who enjoys gaming, skateboarding, hiking and camping.

“In this case, we talked to all of Daniel’s family and friends and he was still the same way as he was a couple weeks before, the month before,” said Victoria police Det. Paul Spencelayh, one of three detectives investigating the case.

Gandza didn’t have a criminal past, wasn’t a drug user, had no enemies and had never before disappeared. Cellphone, computer and banking checks have yielded no clues.

Stephanie Jarymy last spoke to her younger brother by telephone on April 25 to help plan his move out of his suite a few days later.

“To me, that day he seemed fine,” said Jarymy, an Esquimalt resident. “He was busy working, I was trying to get into the dentist office. It just seemed like a regular conversation I had with him.”

Foul play, such as a mugging gone wrong, has been ruled out by police.

“Traditionally, when that happens, you either find a person stumbling out of the hospital because they have a head injury or something, or you find a body on the road,” Spencelayh said.

“We’re kind of at a crossroads now where there’s not much more we can do,” he said, adding that all hopes rest either on Gandza or someone who has seen him.

It’s unlikely Gandza would return to the family’s home province of Manitoba, where his mother and two other older sisters live.

“I would see him staying here on the Island, if that’s what he’s doing, or he’s popped over to the mainland and continued up the coastline,” Jarymy mused. “Are there other possibilities out there? Absolutely. Could he have bonked his head and succumbed (to his injuries)? Sure. Did he end it all? Possibly.

“We have to think of all those avenues and keep them open until I don’t know when.”

The family plans to put up more missing-person posters this summer.

“We don’t want him to become a memory of ours. We want him to be part of our lives always,” Jarymy said.

The longer her brother remains missing, the public will only come to remember him as the focus of a poster campaign, she said.

“But I don’t want that to be my memory of my brother.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Looking for the public’s help

• Daniel Gandza is described as just under six feet tall with a very slender build. He has blue-green eyes and light brown or dirty blond hair.

• Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Det. Paul Spencelayh at 250-995-7259, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 

Just Posted

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read