The remains of a missing 19-year-old Manitoba man were discovered the same week his family renewed their plea for help finding him. Nicholas Brophy’s death is being treated as a homicide, the RCMP said Saturday.

Brophy, who was from Thompson, was last seen Sept. 8 in the northern Manitoba city. After months of searching, his family issued a public plea Thursday for information regarding his whereabouts and raised the reward being offered for his safe return to $50,000.

The family was unaware that Brophy’s body had been found just outside the city just two days earlier.

The RCMP said they had been actively investigating the disappearance for almost eight months and have now put Major Crime Services in charge of the homicide investigation.

‘Devastating’ news, mayor says

Thompson Mayor Dennis Fenske said “the lack of information coming forward” about Brophy’s whereabouts was a concern that grew each month he was missing.

“The news received last evening was devastating. It was the worst outcome,” Fenske said. “It affects everyone in the community and my heartfelt condolences [go out] to the family.”

The RCMP said Brophy’s family has asked for privacy for the time being.

As for whether a community service or public event will be held in memory of Brophy, Fenske said that will be up to the family to decide.

“Until the family feels comfortable in regards to the community itself and moving forward, we’ll leave that in their hands to deal with the situation as they see fit,” he said.

“I can’t imagine what the family went through for the last number of months,” Fenske said. “And now, with the tragic conclusion of it, there is some closure in the fact they now have Nicholas back. But from that perspective, it’s a small solace in the fact that a young man, at 19, had so much to live for.”

‘He did not deserve this’

Matthew McKay, a friend of the 19-year-old, said he was feeling “so hurt” by the news of Brophy’s death.

“He’s not the kind of guy to do harm to anyone,” he said. “He did not deserve this. He had so much going for him.”

Another close friend, Querwin Campecino, said he and others from R.D. Parker Collegiate had searched for Brophy, wondering about what could have happened to him every day.

“It’s so sad,” Campecino said. “I can’t believe I’m not going to see him anymore.”

Campecino said he last saw his friend two or three days before Brophy disappeared.

“It hurts the most because he’s always [had] my back since I came here to Canada and he is one of my best friends.”

Police haven’t released the cause of death or whether there are any suspects in the case.