A couple was driving home on New Year’s Eve when they saw a young man stumbling down the street wearing only a plaid shirt and boxer shorts. They decided to turn back and offer him a ride but there was suddenly no trace of him. The man had seemingly vanished into thin air and he was never seen again.
20-year-old Zack LeFave lived with his grandmother in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He worked at Dayton Red & White, a grocery store.
On the evening of December 31, 2020, Zack wished his grandmother a happy new year and took off to celebrate with his friends. After dinner at Boston Pizza and a few drinks at the Rodd Grand Hotel, they piled into a cab and headed to a house party 15 minutes away, arriving at 10:15 pm.
For some reason, Zack didn’t wait for the countdown. He left the party at 11:45 pm and started walking down Highway 334. A woman who drove past Zach at midnight said that he was talking on the phone and wearing pants.
Between 11:52 pm and 12:07 am, Zack made a series of short phone calls to his friends. He told them that he didn’t have any pants on and was cold. They asked him to return to the party and get into a cab to head home but Zach said that he was with some Black people he didn’t know. All of his friends agreed that he was laughing and did not sound to be in distress.
A married couple was driving home at 12:25 am when they saw Zach walking down Newell Road wearing boxers. When they arrived, the woman asked her husband to drive back and offer “the pantless man” a ride home. By the time her husband got back to Newell Road at 12:45, Zach was gone.
Loved ones knew that something had gone terribly wrong when Zach, who never missed a day of work, failed to show up for his 10 am shift. They immediately reported him missing. During a search, they found Zach’s hat, jeans, belt, and wallet on a dirt road just one lawn over from the party.
This was especially strange because a woman saw Zach walking down Highway 334 wearing pants at midnight, 15 minutes after he left the area of the party. This can only mean one of two things: either the woman’s recollection was false, or Zach’s property had been staged as a red herring.
A town of only 7,000 people, the entire community was distraught and they quickly banded together in search of Zach. Helicopters, drones, and scent-sniffing dogs were deployed. It was one of the largest searches in Nova Scotia's history. 46 five-acre grids were covered but Zach was nowhere to be found. He vanished without a trace just two days before his 21st birthday.
The search was suspended on January 5th by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) but volunteers continued searching for Zach for weeks, to no avail. His case was transferred to the Major Crimes Unit 11 months later.
Investigators ultimately theorized that Zach was heavily intoxicated when he removed his pants and became a victim of paradoxical undressing, which occurs during the final stages of hypothermia when people become overly hot and remove their clothing. Those who suffer from hypothermia often hallucinate and run into the woods to find shelter, only to freeze to death. The RCMP believes Zach did so and succumbed to the elements.
I previously wrote about the strange disappearance of Jason Landry who was also thought to be a victim of paradoxical undressing. While both cases have similarities, there is also reasonable doubt regarding that theory.
In Zach’s case, he told his friends that he was with some Black people he didn’t know but according to them, the town is predominantly White and everyone at the house party was as well. Whether Zach was really with someone or was hallucinating due to hypothermia remains a mystery.
“When he was little, he’d stay home one day from school and we’d have a ‘mommy and me day.’ We’d do the tree, or we’d watch TV, or just do whatever. He’d say, how about we have a ‘mommy and me day’ and he’d just stay home…We just miss him so much.” —Lorna Fitzgerald, mother of Zach LeFave
Zach LeFave was last seen wearing a yellow and blue plaid shirt, boxers, and Blundstones. At the time of his disappearance, he was 5'11" and 155lbs with brown hair, blue eyes, and brown facial hair. A $30,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to his whereabouts. Call Yarmouth RCMP at (902) 742–9106 or Nova Scotia CrimeStoppers at 1–800–222–8477.