|Disappeared||December 12, 1977|
|Missing for||41 years|
Palermo was described to have brown hair and brown eyes (with a hint of hazel, identical to the eye color of his mother). Peculiarly, Mario's Canadian Citizenship Certificate, dated 1964, indicated that he in fact had blue eyes, however, that statement was erroneous. He also had a mustache, and a medium build at the time of his disappearance, as well as 3 moles on his face; each located down the side of his left cheek and jaw. Mario also had very distinctive and prominent ears that seemed to "stick out", and the tip of his ears were pointy and tilted in a backwards direction (see gallery below). They seemed to align with his face higher up than the average person. His mandible and chin were noticeably quite angular, and could also be considered "robust".
Prior to his disappearance, Palermo was a single man living at home with his parents and 3 younger siblings. His home life had become severely turbulent from the late '60s until the day he was last seen. That year, Mario had placed a tape recorder on the table at home one night that his father was drinking excessively. The tape revealed a confrontation incited by Mario, and captured chilling screams and a harrowing struggle as he ran around the house in complete and abject terror, running for his life, while he was being chased around the house repeatedly by his father who was wielding a knife; intent on harming him. The tape in question had since been destroyed.
Mario was known by all to be a very shy and quiet person, and preferred to keep to himself most of the time; this is a personality trait that most of the family shared as well. As a result, very little information had been shared with his family about his life during and after moving away to attend college in Hamilton and Ottawa in 1974-76. His general whereabouts specifically in the summer of 1976, however, had been well documented in the call logs recovered by Bell Canada, further evidenced by the honorable discharge letters and certificate that Palermo had received at this time from the Canadian Forces as well.
His father Giovanni had a severe alcohol problem (until he quit drinking in November 1994, on the day of his fourth granddaughter's birth), and was a danger to the rest of his family prior to this. Every weekend, they had to board themselves up in a room indefinitely by stacking furniture against the door so that his dad would not break through and harm them. Mario also routinely had to place himself against the door to keep him out. Family believe that he very understandably may have fled due to such conditions, and subsequently, may have taken on a new identity.
Mario had repeatedly begged his mother Petronilla to move away with him and find an apartment together, as he feared for her life if she were to stay with her husband. Unfortunately, every time he brought it up, Petronilla adamantly refused, telling him that she couldn't leave her family behind. This occurred in 1977, just before he left home.
Mario had been fluent in both English and Italian languages. According to his siblings, he did not have an Italian accent when speaking English.
At the time of disappearance, the missing persons report was poorly recorded, and many factors/information had been left out inadvertently, allowing Mario's case to fall through the cracks. Tragically, as a result, his case soon went cold. Research and related items gathered strongly suggested that had this been looked into sooner, he most likely would have been found.
In early March 2019, Niagara College's Media department, along with Canada's national network Bell Fibe TV have officially agreed to work with the Palermo family to produce a documentary about his life and mysterious disappearance. This is the first time that Mario's case had ever been introduced to the media and public, in hopes that someone may recognize him or hold information valuable to the search effort. It has been decided that the documentary will be in 4-part episodes, which will be telling his entire story in depth (from his personal point of view, personalizing Mario's unique story) surrounding Mario's heritage, his personal life and challenges, his mysterious disappearance, and lastly, the lengths family is going to presently investigate an excitingly-promising lead being currently investigated by each of his siblings and nieces, who for him, are all coming together to help fight for well-deserved justice and closure before it's too late.
Life prior to disappearance
Palermo was born on August 27th, 1954 in Conflenti (village within the region of Calabria), Catanzaro, Italy, approximately two years before immigrating with his parents to Canada. Mario had been baptized (Roman Catholic) in Conflenti Inferiore a few months prior to the move.
Ironically, the young couple, along with the travelling group other families emigrating to Canada, decided to make a stop in Rome before boarding the ship at a grand basilica they spotted on the way, 2-year old Mario in tow. Not thinking any differently, and expecting the overall doctrine to be Roman Catholic, they entered the church. However, to their surprise, they eventually realized that they had unknowingly just walked into a Satanic church, as they were trustingly herded inside by the emigrating group's tour guide. Mario's highly-religious mother, Petronilla, would later describe the harrowing scene when the young family entered what they originally thought was a Catholic church, and instead, they were immediately confronted with a highly-distressing scene in which the sacrifice of a sheep was in the midst of being performed at the altar. As soon as they walked in, they walked right back out again. Everything seemed to go downhill from there, and it almost seemed as though they had been cursed; foreshadowing the inevitable chain of devastating and heartbreaking events that the family (and mainly, Mario) would soon endure.
(Side note: Strangely, each of Mario's siblings, as well as his mother, wholeheartedly believe[d] that paranormal forces likely seem to have somehow been involved in the family's disheartening circumstances and occurrences, and each even describe having to have several home-exorcisms performed, and report encountering what they thought were 'demons' walking up and down the stairs each night. Eerily enough, tenants that currently rent and reside in this house have also casually reported the exact same thing, completely unprompted. Past tenants have stated the same thing, as well, hearing terrifyingly shouting from what they considered to be a man's voice every night, urging them to "get out". Secondly, well before the family even moved in or had anything to do with the house, there had been a murder of the home's sole occupant in the upstairs bathroom).
His mother Petronilla would later recall that Mario had not been a very happy camper throughout the immigration process, and that he had been sobbing and sullen for the duration of the boat ride, pleading his mother to rethink the move to Canada and return to their home in Italy. Nonetheless, Mario and his parents had sailed upon the S.S. Vulcania departing from the city of Rome, Italy. The first stop was the docks of New York City. The second stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the three 'landed' on the day of December 6, 1956. They then finally settled down in Welland, Ontario, and Mario would soon begin attending St. Mary Catholic Elementary School.
While in the 7th grade, 12 year-old Palermo joined the Welland School Safety Patrol, which had been run by CAA (Canadian counterpart of AAA). As a treat, Mario and 7 of his peers from his elementary school (one student being his best childhood friend, Joe Bora, who also has not been heard from at all since the late 1970s') were chosen to attend a school trip to Ottawa, Ontario in May of the year 1967. The trip itinerary included boarding a flight operated by Air Canada to the capital city, a 3-night stay at the Talisman Hotel in Ottawa, sightseeing, a picnic party and a trip to the House of Commons and Rideau Hall. Patrollers even had the opportunity to meet the current Prime Minister at the time, who in 1967 was The Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson.
Mario arrived home on the 21st of May 1967, and his behaviour changed dramatically according to his worried parents, and had been behaving erratically, exhibiting signs similar to those of PTSD. Mario had vaguely indicated that events occurring during the Ottawa trip had been the cause of the mental anguish he had been feeling lately, but refused to go into any detail. The only person Mario had ever told about what happened was his fearful mother, who didn't share this with anyone in the family (other than her husband). The whole family were due to attend church that day, however, Mario had seemingly grown increasingly anxious and frightened (which was completely out of the ordinary) at the thought of attending mass. He refused to attend outright, even locking himself in the garage; screaming and crying.
Mario had progressively and quickly become severely disturbed, paranoid and anxious resulting from the incident in Ottawa, and denied to doctors that anything took place to cause these feelings. Because of this, doctors were under the assumption that the symptoms were purely on a psychological basis and unfounded in reason, subsequently forcing them to wrongly diagnose Mario with schizophrenia. Palermo's mother consequently began taking him to the Welland County Hospital (2-South/Mental Health Unit) quite routinely for Electroshock Therapy (ECT) under doctors' order, hoping to allow memory loss of the traumatic event to take effect, as well as alleviate the negative emotions he had been experiencing as a result, such as depression and anxiety.
This one singular event triggered a catastrophic chain of events leading up to his eventual disappearance.
Mario began high school at Welland High and Vocational School (now defunct) in September 1969, and was known by friends and family to have severe attendance and truancy issues as a direct result of his hospitalization. Despite this, Mario had joined the school's Chess Club in his second year (grade 10), and also competed in Track and Field running relays. Mario is not pictured anywhere in his yearbooks (as he would avoid attending class photos), except for a small picture of him running track, and a group photo of the Chess Club (both in 1970 only), which is listed in the gallery.
Later, Mario graduated from high school in June of 1973. He was actually scheduled to graduate the year before, however, he had missed a substantial amount of classes, as he had been admitted to the Welland County Hospital for about 1 or 2 months after being formally diagnosed with clinical depression, and underwent countless rounds of shock therapy during his stay. Once discharged, he repeated the 12th grade the following year.
After graduating high school, he began attending night school classes to complete an optional 5th year ('grade 13') at Hamilton Collegiate Institute (circa 1973-74) in order to be accepted into and attend university.
Mario then attended McMaster University in Hamilton, which took place in 1974. In the following year, he also attended Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, where he would soon spend most of his time in the summer of 1976-77. Mario was also part of the Governor Generals' Foot Guards (3rd division, Public Duties Detachment) in the same time period, and at one point, had gone to CFB Petawawa to complete his basic training (BMQ), beginning in April 1976. Palermo held the rank 'Private' during his tour of duty.
As of May 29, 1976, a certificate addressed to Palermo confirms that he officially received his Honorable Discharge from the Governor General's Foot Guards, finalizing the completion of his duty. At that point, he therefore became eligible for a pension from the Canadian Armed Forces.
Also, In 1976, Mario had a door sign/plaque belonging to Carleton University that read "Aerodynamics Research Laboratory". That same year, he travelled to Montreal, Quebec in May, the duration of his stay being approximately 2 weeks or so, and he had been generating income during this period. It is speculated that as a result, he most likely had been serving with the Canadian Armed Forces in the province of Quebec, also.
Mario's siblings recall that he was an avid fan of The Beatles and Santana (as well as most psychedelic music originating from the '60s), even attending many concerts of the latter in the years leading up to his disappearance.
Prior to his disappearance in late 1977, and after returning home for a short period, Mario had also been working in Welland amongst Niagara College's Theater program at Sacred Heart Church, located on Empire Street, in Downtown Welland, working as a set designer. At the time, the program had been celebrating its 10-year anniversary, and rehearsals were being held every weekend in mid-to-late October 1977. The venue was dubbed "Welland Little Theatre", which is now defunct. Mario also had obtained a copy of a paperback book by Faber Plays before he disappeared, that contained a script for the play "The Real Inspector Hound" (written by Tom Stoppard), and a list of other plays for which a script could be ordered. The book had apparently originated from London, England.
A date was set for December 13, 1977 for the Niagara College Theater program to put on the well-rehearsed comedy play, Engaged, at 111 Church Road in St. Catharines, Ontario. It is unlikely that Mario was in attendance, and his name was completely omitted from the publication. Disappointingly, as a result, he wasn't even mentioned as being part of their set crew. However, an income tax slip received at his home address in Welland at the end of 1977 officially recorded that Mario had, indeed, successfully received payment from Niagara College for his work on the set.
Mario's younger brother would later recall that he was pretty much what you would consider to be the 'jack of all trades', and was extremely skilled when it came to woodworking and building, such as masterfully creating electronic devices from scratch (such as high-quality; professionally made speakers) by hand, which would have come in (excuse the pun) quite handy in a career of set design.
He was familiar with, and often relied on using public transportation and hitchhiking to make his way from city to city, and at one point, took shelter at the YMCA of Hamilton and the YMCA of Ottawa for an extended period of time (as well as several hostels). He wore upscale clothing, and wasn't your average 'transient' traveler. He typically wore wool Levis' Panatela pants, and button-up dress shirts. He was known to also wear Hushpuppies brand dress shoes, size 9 (US/Canada). His family states that he specifically never wore denim jeans, as they didn't fit his style, and he only ever wore black or other dark-colored socks. Palermo was also known to have an exceptionally high IQ (*more specifically, his IQ score was 155*), and family states that he was quiet and shy as well as having an introverted personality type.
Mario had obtained a slip of paper from a pharmacy in Welland, Ontario, documenting a prescription he had received from a doctor in October 1977, about a month before his disappearance (and around the time that he was working with Niagara College's theater program), for the pharmaceutical drug named chloral hydrate 500mg (prescribed as a sedative to help combat insomnia). At the time that the slip was printed, the prescription still contained 2 refills, and it is unknown whether they had ever been fulfilled or not.
On November 26, 1977, Mario made the fateful decision to try his hand at prescription forgery, and copied the signature of a local general physician in Welland at the time, Dr. Ansari. Mario had then ordered a sibling to visit the pharmacy and display the written prescription in order to have the prescription filled. The pharmacist realized right away that the signature was indeed fake. Subsequently, he asked to see the slip of paper, under the ruse that he "just needed to verify it". Mario's sibling soon returned home, and he hit the roof when they had informed him that they left the forged signature in the pharmacists' possession, on top of arriving home empty-handed. Immediately following the 'botched' attempt, local authorities were promptly alerted to the incident. The medication he was attempting to obtain is currently unknown.
The next day, which was 3 days prior to leaving home, police visited the household, wanting to speak to Mario. He was then told that the doctor he was forging signatures of was highly considering filing charges for fraud, and the authorities subsequently warned him for the last time that if he was caught doing this again, they would have no choice but to convict him. The doctor later decided to drop the charges. Mario's criminal record is clean and free of conflict, as he has not had any run-ins with the law before this event. This was the first and only time that Mario had attempted to forge any prescriptions, and understandably, this event in particular is one of the main reasons he may have fled his family home (in his eyes, in order to avoid what he strongly feared would be imminent prosecution and arrest for his mistake).
He always kept regular contact with his mother over the phone, and it was unlike him to abruptly stop contacting her. After a few days of not hearing from him at all, Petronilla became alarmed and local authorities were alerted. The missing persons report was subsequently filed in January of 1978, with the help of the Niagara Regional Police.
Mario's mother, Petronilla, had purchased a Christmas card for him in early December, 1977, and was excitedly and anxiously awaiting and anticipating her beloved son's joyous return for the holidays. Sadly, she soon found that she would never be able to give the card to Mario, as he heartbreakingly never returned home again. Every year that would pass since 1977 to the year of her passing (2016), she would traditionally purchase and set aside a Christmas card, special for Mario; filling it out carefully and signing it with love from her, as well as his distraught siblings, expressing their love and care for him.
(Side Note: an excerpt from a few of the cards read: "To Mario: It's natural at Christmas time to look back and recall, the special joy and happiness you've brought since you were small. It's natural to wish you joy in everything you do throughout this happy season, and throughout the new year, too. Love, Mamma", and...
"To Mario: This comes with lots of love today, to hope your Christmas, son, will be the kind that you deserve---a more than happy one...and may the year that's just ahead be wonderful for you, fulfilling all your hopes and plans, and all your wishes too, from Mamma").
- He may be Markham Doe
- He may be Hamilton John Doe (1978) (now undergoing DNA extraction and sequencing for match)
- He may be 17UMCA
- He may be Pops
- He may be Cartierville John Doe
- He may be Luce County John Doe
- He may be Miscou Island John Doe
- He may be UP6006
Methods of Identification
- DNA Available: Yes (2/3 samples successfully collected in process of obtaining 3 rounds of familial DNA, and is currently underway, before it will shortly be added to The Royal Canadian Mounted Police National DNA Database for further comparison). Previous sample analysis on genetic material provided by Petronilla is also currently in the process of being recovered, however, the status of this recovery is yet unknown. Hair strands found on clothing belonging to Mario have been collected as well (as mDNA), and were subsequently submitted as evidence to the Niagara Regional Police Service Headquarters, where it is being held indefinitely until further notice.
- Blood Typing: Either A[O], B[O], or O[O]; He carries at least one recessive "O" allele.
- Rhesus Factor (Blood Typing): Positive
- Dental records (radiographs and charts) Available: Yes. Mario had extensive dental work performed, mainly comprising of dental restoration procedures using composite resin fillings.
- Fingerprints Available: Currently unknown
- Skeletal (if remains): No broken bones; Positive presence of muscle striations indicating athleticism (as Palermo was an avid runner)
- Smoker: No
- Coffee Drinker: Yes, consumed regularly, and on a daily basis (cappuccino and espresso)
- Hair Description: Dark brown, naturally curly and wavy. Hair strand texture: Fine
- Eye Description: Brown/dark hazel. Symptomatic of convergence insufficiency (which would be quite visible and noticeable when viewing his face), a genetically-inherited trait arising from ancestors of Palermo's father, Giovanni. Mario's siblings also express this same phenotypic trait.
- Scars/Marks: *Two slight (however, still noticeable) superficial burn marks that had been caused by epidermal damage during ECT procedures on either side of his forehead located just above each eyebrow, representing the site of electrode placement, which in Mario's case, was carried out in a bifrontal manner; strongly suggests that conductive gel placed between electrodes and Palermo's skin was, to a degree, somehow inadequate.* *He also had a circular abrasion or dark birth mark on the upper mid-to-inner side of his left thigh, and another a few inches down in the center of the same thigh.*
- Characteristic Features: 2 moles on left edge of mandible, near the chin. One tiny freckle on left cheekbone that was approximately an inch or so beneath that eye. Blemish/mark/abrasion on right upper jaw. Very slight receding hairline. No grey hairs. Patchy mustache, with no hair on the philtrum (area between top lip and nose). Often styled hair to partially cover his ears, which are distinctly large as well as appearing pointy at the tips. He may or may not have worn a beard, as well as thick sideburns. Mario's Adam's Apple had always been very distinctly and clearly prominent. Shoe size is 8-8.5 US/CAN. Only ever wore button-up dress shirts, Levis brand Panatela Pants ('disco' pants), black/dark socks, and dress shoes or Hushpuppies moccasins, as well as Waltham watches. Never wore denim jeans of any kind. Never wore jewelry of any kind. Always well-kempt.
*An accurate 3D-model rendering has recently been created in order to demonstrate Mario's facial features and full profile. The model is tactile and can be manipulated to show all aspects of his head and jaw. Note: This may seem uncanny to some, as it does feature eye and facial movement, making it more life-like. The model of Palermo's head is viewable here
Additionally, a morph sequence has also been created to show the age progression detail between the main young photograph and the current age-progressed photo, and is viewable here, as well.
Mario had been serving with the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, who near the time of his disappearance in 1977, were subsequently stationed in Baden, Germany. Therefore, there is a high chance that he may allegedly have ties to Germany, along with other guardsmen serving there.
A legitimate prescription (ordered by a local doctor) was dated October 30, 1977 for the pharmaceutical sedative Chloral hydrate (1x 500mg daily dose, liquid syrup), in order to alleviate symptoms caused by acute insomnia. The prescription was subsequently then obtained by Mario at a pharmacy nearby his family home in Downtown Welland, Ontario, also occurring on the date provided. The prescription stated that as of that day, he would have had 2 more refills; simply enough medication to last 2 more months. The prescription and its subsequent refills had surprisingly never been tracked by investigators, although this could have been a very promising avenue of investigation. This sleeping drug in particular was known to have very strong adverse effects upon withdrawal if it had been taken regularly for longer than a couple of weeks before going cold turkey. Even in the 1970s', Chloral hydrate was hardly ever used any longer, and if it was, it had been prescribed mostly in liquid-syrup form. Mario's prescription, however, had been dispensed in pill-form.
A slip of paper that Mario had written: "Red wool + black wool - picked up saw dust [spaces] silk [sic] materials + steel". Another slip of paper similar had read: T.D. - S.D. 20 mg 24 hr [d]art, T.D. 30 mg [d]art".
In addition to this, Mario had written "S.D." in block letters on a paper in his Chemistry notebook (5th year of high school), and dated the page being April 17, 1975. On the same note, he had scrawled his Social Insurance Number just above it; as well as a list of professors to "keep or drop".
After immediate inspection, it was clear that the papers had been soaked in a red substance, and were mysteriously and significantly stained by dark red splatters on the edges of the sheets, which may or may not have been blood. Almost all of his books and belongings had a similar pattern of discoloration and strange splatters.
Strangely, in 2015, Mario's mother received a letter in the mail (at the family home) that was addressed to her missing son, whom she hadn't heard from in decades. The letter was to 'inform' Palermo that he had successfully carried out his duties in the Canadian Forces as a Governor General's Foot Guard in Ottawa, and was therefore honorarily discharged at some point, and had been eligible to receive his military pension. The Social Insurance number belonging to Mario correlated with information in the letter, and it was known that all income ceased in 1977 according to tax records. It is unknown why the letter had been delivered recently as opposed to in the past.
The certificate confirming Palermo's military history was dated August 1976, and it stated that he had been honorably discharged from the Governor General's Foot Guards, in the Reserve Force (3rd Division) officially on May 29, 1976 after his tour of duty began in April 1976. Additionally, more research revealed that the 3rd Division was mainly based in British Columbia, one of the bases being in the city of Comox, B.C., where his friend and fellow veteran, Stephen Mercer had been stationed and residing in until his death in 2011. This may create a high likelihood that he could have relocated to British Columbia upon his disappearance.
Mario had sent a Greyhound Express package to his family home, and it is suggested that he had most likely carefully planned to leave with no intention of returning home, considering he mailed back a pair of boots that belonged to his youngest brother, those of which he had been wearing for a while. There was no home address listed on the package, however it is known that it definitely had been sent from Orillia. Mario was dropped off by his best friend at a Greyhound station in Hamilton the day he disappeared, and later disembarked at the Orillia terminal, assumingly based on this being the originating location of the package. Mario's brother had travelled with his mother to an apartment he had been renting around that time and also visited the Greyhound terminal there, however, they were unable to locate him despite their efforts. Mario was sadly never seen or heard from again.
A letter addressed to Mario from Canada's Financial Collections (on behalf of Canada Student Loans) was received at Mario's family home on January 6, 1979, stating that his account had been delinquent for 270-365 days, meaning that they had received payments up until October 1978, which was almost a year after he had gone missing from his family home, which could also strongly suggest that Mario had been alive at least up until that time (which corresponds with the Hamilton John Doe investigative lead).
Amongst Mario's possessions that had been recovered from his mother's home, including additional school binders and notes, was a magazine dated 1977, which was a travel brochure/booklet about booking flights and a cruise to Tenerife, and it is possible that he may have travelled there at one point, but this cannot be proven as of yet.
A pair of Mario's pants that had been left behind
Pants such as these with different patterns was consistent with Mario's wardrobe and personal style sense.
Mario's t-shirt from Carleton University ('75-76)
The last time Palermo was seen alive was December 12, 1977. At the time of his disappearance, he was not carrying any identification. When he left, he took a brown Dionite luggage travel bag with him, and he was wearing a dark beige and brown (tartan patterned) pair of Panatela wool pants. He usually kept a pocketknife in his pants' pocket for protection, encased in a vinyl/leather sheath. Mario had also owned a Waltham brand watch, which was presumably taken with him when he left home. He had left behind the small warranty card belonging to that specific watch, with his signature on the back of the little booklet.
Mario also left behind a bank book belonging to him and the Bank of Nova Scotia (now called Scotiabank), and more specifically, the transit number revealed that the bank was in Ottawa on the campus of Carleton University. The bank book showed bank statements consistent with deposits, transfers, and withdrawals regarding tuition and rent payments for a short amount of time (January to March 1976). Oddly, when the bank account was searched for at the Bank of Canada in 2018 (Unclaimed Balances portal), the name of the accountholder was a "Hyacinth Hogg". Moreover, the account in question had not been used since the 1990s', and it had the same balance as what was printed on the book in 1976. Searches for the peculiar name and circumstances came up empty.
About a week prior to the day he left home, Mario had been greeted by a little stray black cat outside the back door to the house. Subsequently, he had decided to leave the little black kitten some food and milk, and had done so for the rest of the week. His mother, Petronilla, wasn't very happy with this arrangement, and Mario wanted to begin letting the little cat in the house for shelter, as it had begun getting cold outside. Petronilla ordered one of Mario's brothers to drive the cat to the railyard of another city and leave it there so it would not return. Unfortunately, the little kitten did make it back from Port Colborne to Welland, but was hit by a car a few houses down from the safety of the Palermo family home, and sorrowfully as a result, the fatally-injured kitten passed away.
Strangely, however--a year ago, a tiny little stray black kitten began appearing at the back door of the residence belonging to Mario's brother, and the cat made a home for itself in their family rather quickly. When Mario's investigation was underway once again, Palermo's niece had uncovered a box of his clothing, and had begun developing a research binder holding his belongings and information important to the search. The little kitten refused to sleep anywhere other than on Mario's research binder, and when the box of Mario's clothing was opened, the cat jumped into the box with his clothes, laid down on them, and immediately fell asleep.
Mario had also taken his copy of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band vinyl album along with him, and also left the rest of his record collection behind. Ominously, one song in particular on this album (She's Leaving Home) is forebodingly similar to the circumstances Mario faced the day he left, which was also on a Wednesday, and also occurred in at 5:00 AM on that day, which was November 30th, 1977.
Also, a single lock of hair belonging to Palermo was found in May of 2019, as it was adhering to the fabric of a dress shirt he had worn in the 1970s'. This has been recently recovered and safely stored for identification purposes.
Prior to his disappearance from his family home, he had sat down with his sister, and blankly told her that he had to leave, and she would never see him again. He had also said this to one of his brothers around the same time. Mario had been acting progressively more despondent, detached, and stressed until he left, and family was unsure what to make of the statement. For about 2 weeks prior to his disappearance, it was reported that Mario was often seen pacing around the hallways at home perpetually, and seemed to be very troubled by his circumstances. However, he never confided in his siblings or parents about this fact in particular, and unfortunately, no one knew exactly what was troubling him. However, his worried siblings each recall quite vividly that his emotions and expression seemed to vehemently shift as a direct result of the electroshock (ECT) treatment he had been receiving for mental health disorders.
The day he left his family home was actually early in the morning of November 30th, 1977, and it is implied that he had stayed with his best friend in Hamilton for a few weeks after leaving Welland. The friend in question would later confirm the accuracy of this statement in 1991. On his official day of disappearance (December 12, 1977), Mario had asked his friend for a ride to Hamilton's Greyhound bus depot, and upon arrival Palermo had ominously stated to his friend that he would "never see him again", and needed to "take care of business", before saying goodbye. His 'true' destination is unknown. The last time anyone heard from Palermo was January 8, 1978, when his mother received a Grey Coach parcel from Orillia, Ontario (where he had temporarily been living in the past, as well), containing a pair of boots that Palermo borrowed from his brother and two boxes of chocolates. Palermo was reported missing by his mother on January 20, 1978.
It is strongly suspected that Mario had most likely also been travelling back up to CFB Petawawa at the time of his disappearance, and considering he always hitchhiked, could have been a victim of foul play during his travels from the highways of Orillia to his destination in the city of Petawawa, as well (as he would have been travelling down Highway 11, which at the time, had frequently been the site of multiple murders involving hitchhikers, such as that of Markham Doe).
Initially, Mario's family believed that he may have simply re-entered and begun residing in Conflenti, Italy. However, an international search conducted around 1994 by INTERPOL in conjunction with the RCMP (on behalf of Mr. Gilbert Parent, who was an MP at the time, spending years attempting to help family locate Mario) proved negative, as no records were found of a passport or Italian visa under his birth name and identity. However, the relocation cannot be totally ruled out, as he often told siblings in detail that he "knew how to change his name" in order to obtain a new identity, and even mentioned a few times in passing that if he were to do so, he would take on the first name 'Frank', or 'Franco' (named after his maternal uncle), and on separate occasions, Mario often expressed wanting to return to his birthplace in Italy.
In 1980, there was a reunion in Ottawa for members of the military that had begun in the Southwestern region of Ontario. Stephen ('Steve', as he was known by the Palermo family) Mercer, who was a long-standing close friend to Mario, had been stationed in British Columbia in the late '70s after being raised in Welland, Ontario. He had been aware that Mario was a Guardsman in the years prior to his disappearance, and that Mario would be attending the reunion for this reason. Mercer had made the long and arduous trip back to Ontario, and attended the reunion in an attempt to solely catch up with his old friend. Once he learned that Mario had not been at the reunion, he then travelled (about an 8 hour drive) from Ottawa to the family's home in Welland. He was greeted by Mario's family, and they were asked if Mario had been home, and if he could speak to him. To his complete surprise, he was informed that Mario was not home, and that he had actually been missing for a significant amount of time. Steve took it upon himself, and promised Palermo's parents that he would find his dear friend and their beloved son, as he had strong contacts that could help him do so. Unfortunately, family never heard back from Steve since he left that evening. Mr. Mercer passed away on March 24, 2011 in Victoria, British Columbia at the age of 57.
Mario had a long history of involvement as a patient in several of Ontario's inpatient mental health facilities throughout the '70s while being treated for Major Depressive Disorder. Subsequently, Gilbert Parent then suggested to family that they should attempt to make contact with these facilities in hopes of attaining helpful information regarding his whereabouts. In 1993, letters were mailed to every mental institution in all of Canada that contained a request for assistance by searching patient intake records using his name and his most recent photograph. Attached was also a lengthy physical description, in hopes that someone may have recognized him. Unfortunately, this effort did not surface any leads.
When the international search ended in 1994 and its results came up empty, the family were collectively told that no further investigation could be performed, as they had come to a 'dead end' after all routes of investigation failed to identify any leads, but authorities surmised that there was indeed a strong possibility that he has been living under a new name and identity.
All of Mario's friends (one of which who was serving for the Canadian military in British Columbia) were interviewed by one of his brothers, and none of them were even aware of Mario's disappearance, and claimed they had no contact with him at all from 1977 to the 1990s, when the intervews occurred. The only person who had some idea of what had occurred was his best friend, Leslie, who had claimed to be the last person to see Mario alive.
Also In 1977, he had already been in serious debt regarding tuition from 2 separate universities (those of which he never graduated from), and this may have also been a motive (if he happened to change his identity in any way) in an attempt to begin anew.
In late 2009, Detective Constable Douglas Clarke of York Regional Police's Homicide department had paid a visit to the home of Petronilla Palermo (his late mother), and formerly, that of Mario's, and had informed the family that he was investigating a lead, which had been an unidentified case by the name of "Markham Doe", and that Mario may have been the decedent in question. Petronilla had subsequently submitted a DNA sample for analysis (which is still available), and after being tested, the results were negative.
A few years later, one of Mario's siblings came across a particular case file regarding unidentified remains (the file number '1775UMON'). They immediately became alarmed after reading through the file listed on Canada's Missing (formerly missing-u.ca). The description eerily fit Mario to a tee, and family were almost certain that it was a match, as the material and design of the decedent's pants were identical to those of Mario's, and that they are the only pair that is missing from Mario's wardrobe. However, in January 2019, Palermo's niece had contacted the OPP after a correspondence with Rebekah Turner (owner of theunidentified.org) regarding the possibility, but the detective in question stated that it was in fact not possible, as the remains had already been positively identified in 2018 as a resident of Simcoe, Ontario who had been declared legally dead as of October 1977.
At this time, the Palermo family were also informed that the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) had somehow 'lost' Mario's original dental records (such as x-rays and charts). Luckily, however, the RCMP do have copies of all the original documents available.
As of March 6th, 2019, an enquiry began as to whether or not there is a possibility that Mario Palermo's case may match with that of "Hamilton John Doe". The lead is currently being processed by the NRPS as of July 17, 2019.
On one occasion in 1992, a man thought to match Mario's description (as well as a similar gait) was spotted walking on the corner of East Main St. from the Welland Transit bus hub in Welland by one of Palermo's brothers who was driving down the street at the time, facing his direction. This was the last time anyone fitting such a description had been seen in Welland.
Tragically, Mario's mother, Petronilla, passed away on February 22, 2016, without ever knowing what had happened to her dear son. She had always worn a gold necklace with a locket, and when opened, it displayed a photograph of Mario when he was around 6 years old. Even up until the day she passed away, she would cry for him every night, and was always unable to fall asleep. Petronilla was laid to rest with her necklace and locket as well as many pictures of her first-born son, Mario, taken throughout the many happy years that they had spent together.
The Palermo family have repeatedly contacted the Canadian Armed Forces in order to obtain information as to when Mario had last been at Garrison/CFB Petawawa, with no response from them after mentioning his name and circumstances. Around the same time, an online acquaintance (who is also a decorated Veteran of the Royal Canadian Dragoons) called the base in Petawawa as well, on behalf of the Palermo family, but was told that due to the Privacy Act (FIPPA), they could not disclose any information regarding the military records belonging to Mario. Family still have yet to receive a response from the Forces regarding this topic.
In May of 2019, a letter was mailed by one of Mario's siblings to Health Canada regarding possible third party retrieval of Mario's past medical records, and in June, family received a letter back from the ministry stating that Mario's listed OHIP number was an invalid one, and that contradictory to the information they had laid out, accessible records only dated back as far as 2012. Thus, no information could be deduced regarding this topic.
Mario's family also strongly suggest that he may indeed be alive and living under a fake identity that had been recently uncovered by his paternal niece, Rebecca. This has yet to be certainly confirmed, however.
In late June 2019, an online request was made under FIPPA (Privacy Act) to National Defense for family to legally obtain information pertaining to Mario's service records with the Canadian Forces as a Guardsman.
In July 2019, a tip was formally accepted and is now being processed by NCMPUR and the NRPS regarding the most-likely match between Mario's case and that of Hamilton John Doe (1978). Familial DNA will be processed against DNA obtained from the remains in this case starting next week. According to investigators, this lead is unfortunately quite promising.*Please note that all photographic content displayed is solely property of Palermo family.
- Palermo's Face In 3D: Animated Photo
- Mario's Life in Pictures: Family-created
- Mario Palermo at the Doe Network
- ↑ https://www.simcoereformer.ca/news/local-news/dna-brings-closure-to-family
- ↑ http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=485120