Family and friends have posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the return of a missing Tupper Lake teen.

And Colin Gillis's father, John Gillis, and others have been combing the woods beyond the area extensively covered by police, forest rangers and nearly 1,000 volunteers after the teen went missing March 11.

A new Facebook page, Colin Gillis Search Update, includes details of the reward and postings by the family.

Three days ago, John wrote: "We covered over 37 miles of wood's roads today that encompassed about 11,000 acres of forest. Still finding places where Colin is NOT.

"We're working on filling in the map of our search areas and hope to have some hiking areas for volunteers to cover soon.

"Still going strong, and still holding the right thought — thanks to your support and prayers!!!"

DENSE FORESTLAND

Colin, 18, was last seen walking alone on Route 3 near the intersection of Paskungameh Road in Tupper Lake at 1:45 a.m. on March 11, one month ago.

The exhaustive search that ensued on March 12, after a family effort proved futile, included nearly 14 days of intensive forest and waterway grid searching led by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and State Police.

The area around Route 3 where the Tupper Lake teen disappeared is dense forestland and swamp surrounding Piercefield Flow, which required airboat equipment and special underwater detection procedures.

Still, the search turned up little evidence of the missing teen, who had come home just two days before on spring break from the College at Brockport.

'HOPES STILL HIGH'

The reward is offered by Colin's uncle Robert Gillis and Barbara Bonneau. Its conditions say "this reward shall only be payable to any person or persons for any relevant and useful information that leads to the location and/or safe return of Colin."

In an interview Tuesday, Robert said the support of community has helped bolster their spirits and hope.

"We want to thank everyone — the entire community, the DEC, the State Police. Everybody has been absolutely amazing; our family is overwhelmed by the support we received.

Obviously, our hopes are still high — we hope to have Colin back with us."

In addition to the Facebook update page and the reward, the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce is coordinating donations made to a search fund for ongoing efforts.

"People who can't physically be here have wanted to donate to help," Robert said. "And Faith Bedore at the chamber has set up an account to raise funds to help in the ongoing search."

The chamber has also created a database to keep track of the private search efforts led by Colin's father.

That, Robert said, will help prevent those searching for Colin with his father from covering the same ground more than once.

"After the formal phase of the search wound down, my brother and others went out to search beyond — to cabins, and hunting camps and along roads that surround the area," Robert said. "The idea is how far could an 18-year-old walk before he got cold and wanted to jump into a camp to get warm?"

FOLLOWING LEADS

The case remains active with DEC, Robert said.

"Every time they go in to work in that area (of forest) or do repairs, his case is operational."

He said the community has been and continues to be incredibly supportive.

"We are totally amazed at how wonderful everybody was and is," he said.

State Police are still following up on leads.

Investigator Sean Finn said Tuesday nothing substantive had turned up.

"I'm calling on every lead that comes in," he said.

The reward notice directs those with information to call State Police at 897-2000.

It is limited to a "minimum of $10,000 total" in the event of multiple claimants for the reward.

Reach the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce at 359-3328.

To find the Facebook update page, search for Colin Gillis Search Updates.

The teen is about 6 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds with a blond crew cut and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt with black strips, blue jeans, red sneakers and a red-and-black down jacket.

Email Kim Smith Dedam at: kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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