Missing man now subject of Toronto homicide investigation remembered by friend as ‘loyal and caring’

Nathaniel Brettell, 56. Toronto police/handouts

The friend of a missing man in Toronto, who is the subject of a homicide investigation, says he will be remembered as someone who was “loyal and caring.”

Michael Regan told Global News he’s been friends with Nathaniel Brettell – who he refers to as Nat — for about 10 years after first meeting him in Brampton at a mental health organization.

“I really did [love] him. He was a loyal, caring person who just struggled through life,” he said.

Brettell was last seen on Jan. 21 and was reported missing shortly after. On Friday, police confirmed the case has been turned over to homicide investigators after blood was found at his Etobicoke rooming house a couple of weeks ago.

Regan said Brettell had Asperger’s and suffered from depression and anxiety. He said due to his condition, Brettell liked to abide by a specific schedule and would have a long-standing “conference call” with his friend Amanda every Thursday.

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Read more: Toronto police now treating case of missing Etobicoke man as homicide

Regan and Amanda reported Brettell missing after he didn’t make one of those calls. Regan said Brettell was notorious for losing his cellphone, so at first the two thought that may have been the case. However, when a few more days went by, Regan said they went to Brettell’s Etobicoke rooming house but no one answered the door.

They reported him missing to Peel Regional Police. Toronto police later went to do a wellness check on him on Feb. 1.

When officers arrived at the rooming house, another man came out, armed with a knife, and attacked two officers. A sergeant was slashed multiple times and was taken to hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The other officer suffered minor injuries.

Police said officers were able to restrain the man with a Taser and the suspect was subsequently placed under arrest. However, investigators have not said there is a connection between this altercation and the Brettell investigation.

“It’s been hard, coming to the realization that something has happened to him,” Regan said. “At this point, we just want to find his body. Find the remains and get some closure to everything that’s been going on.”

“Nat would never have gone this long without contacting either myself or Amanda.”

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Regan said Brettell reminded him of the character Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

“He had to have things in a particular way,” Regan said. “He didn’t like change.”

Brettell would get into arguments but he wouldn’t start them, Regan said, adding Brettell liked to “stand up for what he believes in.”

“He didn’t have very many friends, and so, I befriended him and we just stayed friends,” Regan said.

“I stuck with him.”

Regan said it’s been a trying time since his friend’s disappearance, filled with “constantly looking at the news and watching everything to see if there’s been any updates.”

“It’s been quite difficult,” he said. “You keep wondering as days go by, and go by. You wonder where he could be and what could have happened.”

When Regan heard the news from police that the case was now being treated as a possible murder, he said he didn’t want to believe what they were saying.

“It’s at a point now though, where, ‘okay, fine, you say he’s not with us anymore [but] show me the body, show me this video evidence.’

“Don’t just change it from a missing person to a homicide without letting people know why you did this.”

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Read more: 2 Toronto police officers injured, man in custody after knife attack in Etobicoke

Global News learned that officers are still actively investigating and are looking for Brettell’s body. Regan said police have video evidence relating to the case, as well as DNA matching Brettell to blood found inside his room in the home.

“I don’t care what kind of a person you were, no one deserves to have their life ended in the way he did,” Regan said. “Nobody deserves that and we just want to find out what happened [and] find out who is responsible for this.”

Meanwhile a Facebook page was created by Brettell’s sister Lois Brettell, for anyone to post any information they may have.

Investigators asked any witnesses or anyone with information about Nathaniel to contact police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.