Lanarkist

Carleton Place man’s death leaves only sibling seeking answers

Matthew McGrath’s visitation and celebration of life was held in Carleton Place June 1 and 2, 2024. The 52-year-old was reported missing in January and in May, his body was recovered from the Mississippi River in Carleton Place. These photos were shared by his sister, Melissa Rainville, as she is still seeking answers to her brother’s death.

A celebration of life was held Sunday, June 2 for Mathew McGrath, 52, of Carleton Place whose body was pulled from the Mississippi River on May 12 after he was reported missing in mid-January this year.

Melissa Rainville is McGrath’s younger sister. She spoke with Lanarkist about trying to make sense of it all during
a celebration of life at the Waterfront Gastropub on June 2, where he had been employed.

“The gathering was awesome,” she said on Sunday evening. “A ton of old friends from Stittsville came and a lot of Carleton Place people. Amazing support.”

“Growing up in Stittsville Matt has always been a free spirit who is cherished by close friends and family and adored by many who knew him,” his sister wrote in his obituary. “Lover of all kinds of music and sports, especially hockey, he was the biggest fan of the Montreal Canadiens. An outdoors lover, Matt spent his summer days golfing, fishing and going to music festivals such as Bluesfest. Matt would always welcome any opportunity for a good banter session about politics and worldwide issues and was a voracious reader. Always a friendly and smiling face could be met by Mathew’s patrons while working at the Waterfront Gastropub in Carleton Place where he met and had so many longstanding and lifelong friends.”

Predeceased by his parents, Jim and Susan McGrath of Carleton Place, McGrath is survived by his sister (Pete Rainville), nephews Chase and Kaelen and by his son Liam (Kristy). He will be greatly missed by his aunts, uncles, and cousins.

SO MANY QUESTIONS

Rainville, who lives in Spencerville, said despite help from the police, she still had so many questions about her brother’s disappearance before he was found deceased in the water some five months after he was reported missing.

Rainville said her brother was an avid swimmer and didn’t feel that he would take his own life. He wouldn’t leave Moe, who was their late mother’s pet. “He loved that dog,” Rainville said.

McGrath lived like a “typical bachelor,” and didn’t care about possessions, Rainville said.

“He never really had a career – he was a bartender most of his life. He had some aspirations to be a journalist. He flitted through life. At one point he was a meat cutter. We always said that he should have been a ‘60s child. He loved all kinds of music – ‘60s and ‘70s stuff, and ‘80s hard rock, not really that pop music. He wanted to be a rock star and learn to play the guitar.”

Rainville laughed when she remembered sharing a car with her brother – both of whom were adopted at young ages.

“He wrote that car off in a ditch and literally walked away from it,” she said. “That was just Mathew. He didn’t really think about the consequences or monetary value of that or how it impacted anyone else.”

When in their late teens/early 20s, the family moved from Stittsville to Carleton Place.

They lost their father in 2007, and their mother in 2020.

“I last saw Mathew at Mom’s funeral in August four years ago,” Rainville said. “We had a few text conversations and the last time he replied was maybe February last year. I sent another text in May but didn’t get a response to that. That was Mathew.”

WORKING THEORY

Rainville said she paid a private tech company $2,600 to run forensics on her brother’s phone. She also had to hire a lawyer to proceed with permissions.

“We’re suspicious that (someone) removed information from the phone,” she said, explaining that she will forward the report to investigators if necessary.

“It helps to have it on file in case something changes,” she said.

Rainville said she has several working theories. She’s studied policing and was a private investigator for a few years; she’s also studied loss prevention. “I’m not a professional, but I can look outside the box at all the different scenarios.”

Rainville said McGrath hurt his back during a solo trip to the Dominican Republic last November.

“Two weeks after he went missing, we find out he left his luggage behind in his room. He was leaving in a hurry. His clothes were hanging in the closet, his book was on the bedside table and he came home in shorts, a T-shirt and sandals and just his passport. He never officially checked out of his hotel – but he made it home on the flight he was supposed to be on … He didn’t tell anyone anything about his trip when he did get home.”

McGrath had been off of work due to this back injury, she said.

“Whatever happened in Dominican is also a mystery. Police are trying to get his luggage returned. That hasn’t happened yet.”

Rainville said Dominican police confirmed that her brother was never arrested, in jail or in a hospital there.

Even though police say no foul play is suspected, Rainville said things she is discovering in her search for answers is leaning that way.

Lanark County OPP Const. Beth Holihan reiterated in an email: “As was stated in the media release issued after the autopsy confirmed Mathew’s identity, there was no foul play suspected, and the investigation is closed. The OPP will not be providing any further comment.”

Dr. Stephen Walker is the investigating coroner in McGrath’s case. “All I can share with you is that the case is currently under investigation by the Office of the Chief Coroner,” he said in an email.

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