- In September 2014, Matthew Kustra disappeared in Montreal after telling friends gathered at a local bar that he would be back in 20 minutes.
- We spoke with his mother, Janice, about her memory of that night and questions that remain unanswered.
- This is her story and her advice for other young people in Montreal.
Earlier this week, I wrote about twelve individuals who mysteriously disappeared in Montreal and I was humbled to hear back from the mother of Matthew Kustra.
On a crisp, fall night in September of 2014, Matthew Kustra was at PJ’s Pub on rue Saint-Jacques in NDG. Around 10 p.m., he left the bar and told his friends he would be back in twenty minutes. Kustra was never seen or heard from again.
I had the privilege of speaking with his mother Janice regarding her sons’ disappearance. She gave me an eye opening and first hand look into what it feels like to have someone you love so much vanish without a trace.
Matthew left behind a wife, daughter, family and an abundance of friends. His kindness, charm, charisma and sense of humour is deeply missed by all those he touched throughout his life.
Why do you come back to Montreal every year?
September 4 will be the fifth year without Matthew. We had a ritual, his birthday is at the end of August and every year I would come to town and we would have a cigar at Stogies. The last time I was with him was two weeks before he went missing, at Stogies actually.
On Friday, I will go back to that establishment and celebrate what would have been his thirty-second birthday.
It is just something I feel like I need to do for him.
What do you remember about the night your son disappeared?
I didn’t speak with him that day at all. We would usually text each other a lot, seeing how I am in Vancouver and he was in Montreal.
That night, we didn’t text or speak because I had just gotten back. I got a call from my daughter in law and she told me he didn’t come home and he was missing, which was really not like him.
That must have been the worst call to ever receive.
I dropped the phone on the floor. I didn’t understand what it meant but I knew in that moment that I was never going to see my son again.
I knew it, I am his mother, I knew that wasn’t his way. His daughter was sick at the time and I knew there was no way he wouldn’t go home he was a good man.
What do you think happened that night?
I believe I know. When my aunt died, she left my son a nice sum of money. Matthew was a naïve guy, in many ways he didn’t understand bad people. He was a pure of heart person; you see it in his face. He wanted to better himself for his family and he decided to be co-owner of a Montreal bar. I voiced my concerns regarding investing in this particular establishment, I had a bad feeling about it, especially since he made the deal without signing any papers.
I was devastated, I don’t think he fully understood the full impact of this action. He was proud to say he was a co-owner of a bar at twenty-seven years old. He truly believed that it was the right thing to do.
Not long after that, the establishment told him not to come back anymore. Basically, they took his money, kicked him out and told him they no longer wanted him to be around, he had nothing on paper, nothing to prove it but he was very angry.
I had never really seen him that angry, he wanted his money back and I told him to go to the police but since nothing was on paper, there would be nothing they could do.
I believe what happened that night is that they were tired of him chasing them for the money and he would have never stopped, he was that kind of guy, he had a lot of integrity.
That night, he was at Pj’s meeting some men for a snow removal contract, which he did every year. The police tell me he got a text, they wont tell me what it said but when he got that text he got up and left, he was never seen again.
What do you think the text said?
I think it was them telling my son that they would give him back his money, he got in the car with them and was never seen again. I believe they murdered my Matthew. This is what the police believe as well.
Do you feel like the police in our city have been helpful?
To a certain extent yes. When I came to Montreal the first year, they took my DNA in case they needed to test remains. They explained to me that the people he was involved with were very bad people and that Matthew was naïve but I truly didn’t know the extent of how bad those people really were.
The police are still working on it, recently they found remains and they told me that DNA takes a long time to test but they called me to tell me the dental was not a match.
That’s also devastating, these extreme highs and lows. I was hoping to just get closure and put him at rest with his family. His daughter is so tiny, but she understands that her dad doesn’t have a place at the cemetery and it is very sad.
Were the people who you believe killed your son ever questioned?
They got lawyers and the police wouldn’t reveal to me what they spoke about. It made me think that they did do something, why else would you lawyer up?
What has kept you as a mother going through this hard time?
His daughter. She was three years old at the time. That is also why I come to Montreal, to visit my daughter in law, who I love so much and my granddaughter, who is seven.
You must see a lot of Matthew in your granddaughter
I thank god every day for my granddaughter, when I look at her she looks my Matthew and Matthew looked like me, so in a way she looks like me. I see so much of my son in her.
I think that if I didn’t have her I would have just fallen apart completely, I don’t think I would have ever recovered.
It must be really difficult for your daughter in law as well.
I try to help out as much as I can because I know that is what my son would want, but yes it has been very hard for her.
I love them both so much, my son did such an amazing thing by marrying the woman he did she is just the best. We communicate all the time; she sends me videos of my granddaughter, pictures, the works.
It is special to see his legacy live on through your granddaughter?
I think I am lucky that my daughter in law is so lovely and that I have my granddaughter. In that way, I am lucky.
What is your message to other people that are now your son's age when he disappeared?
Be very careful who you make friends with and who you give your money to. Make sure everything you do is legal and the people who you are involved with are legitimate. There is no such thing as a “get rich quick” kind of thing, all that glitters is not gold.
The youth need to be careful because they do not think about how life altering these actions could be.
Sometimes I watch a movie about time travel where someone goes back in time and I imagine that I go back that day and take him out of Pjs early. I imagine a thousand scenarios in my head like what if he never met those people, what if my aunt hadn’t left him that money and she had put it in a trust for him.
What can us Montreal Locals do to help?
If they know anything at all, even if it is a small little thing, it may not mean anything to them, but it can make a big difference.
There were a lot of people at Pjs that night, it was a Thursday night September 4, 2014, and somebody might have seen something or might know something. If you do, please let somebody know.
If you or anyone you know have any information regarding Matthew Kustra please contact the SPVM at: 514 393-1133
Remembering Matthew Kustra is a page dedicated to his memory and the ongoing search.