Florence Thomas had to be carried out of a gathering for her missing son, Draper Jim, on Friday at the Witchekan Lake First Nation.

“Please come home. That’s all I ask is for you to phone home,” said Thomas.

Jim went missing eight years ago while hitchhiking from his work in North Battleford to Witchekan Lake, about 15 kilometres northwest of Spiritwood. He was dropped off near Cochin and never seen or heard from again.

His family still believes he is alive, and those hopes were fanned last November when family members started receiving Facebook messages from someone claiming to be Jim.

“I was just scared, kind of like an excitement but scared at the same time,” said Jim’s cousin Valerie Littlepine.

The person claiming to be her missing cousin said he was living in the United States and needed money. The family asked him to send a photo and the person said he couldn’t. They got suspicious and called the police.

“That was reported to us back in November and followed up, and the family is aware of the results of that part of the investigation,” said Sgt. Ken Palen with the RCMP’s historical case unit.

The family said it was a scam artist and that the messages stopped once police were alerted. They said to play on their emotions and get their hopes up was despicable.

“Somebody is being mean to try to do that to the family, to make us try to believe it’s him when it’s not him,” said Maggie Thomas, Jim’s grandmother.

“You have all these hopes and then they get crushed,” added Littlepine.

Jim’s family gathered alongside several members of the Witchekan Lake First Nation Friday to commemorate the eighth anniversary of his disappearance. They said they won’t stop searching for him until they find him or find out what happened to him.

Palen confirmed police are still working on the case.