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She claims to be a local toddler who vanished 50 years ago — that toddler's sister says that's nonsense

Mary Belanger says in a YouTube video that she is missing two-year-old Diane Prevost and has been messaging the Prevost family for more than a year with her claims
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You might have seen a YouTube video circulating on social media over the past week in which a woman, oddly petting a cat as she speaks, claims to be a local toddler who went missing from the shores of Grundy Lake more than 50 years ago. (YouTube)

You might have seen a YouTube video circulating on social media over the past week in which a woman, oddly petting a cat as she speaks, claims to be a local toddler who went missing from the shores of Grundy Lake more than 50 years ago.

In the video, which appears to have been purchased as an ad on YouTube, the woman narrates over images of newspaper clippings, explaining that she believes she had been suffering amnesia for many years and only recently started having memories of her abduction.

She claims to be Diane Prevost (in fact, the title of the video is "I am Diane Prevost"), the two-year-old daughter of a Valley family, who disappeared from the shore of Grundy Lake during a family vacation to the provincial park in 1966. 

"I have suffered a horrific life of severe abuse," Belanger says in the video. "I have blocked out trauma since (I was) a toddler. I was taken to replace a child, and that child had a fraternal twin so I do remember the twin. I had amnesia of my true identity, when I got my childhood memories I really thought I was a twin."

More than a year ago, Sudbury.com spoke with the sisters of Diane Prevost, who continue to seek answers about what happened to their sister.

As wonderful as it would be to have found her sister alive and well, Lise Nastuk told Sudbury.com today the woman in the video, whose name is Mary Belanger, isn't who she claims to be, and the family has a DNA test to prove it.

"Her real name is Mary Belanger and she has emailed and phoned me and everyone in my family trying to get in touch with my mother," said Nastuk. "She first came on the scene around October of 2016, shortly after the 50-year anniversary of Diane's disappearance, claiming to be Diane."

The video opens with Belanger addressing Diane's mother, Claire, stating, "I just want you to know that I am alive and life circumstances just went the way they did, we could talk some time."

Belanger says in the video that she travelled from Temiskaming Shores to Parry Sound in 2016 in order to have a DNA test done at the West Parry Sound OPP detachment to prove she is who she believed herself to be. On this point — regarding the DNA test — she and Nastuk agree; Belanger did provide a DNA sample for comparison. 

That's where their versions of events diverge, however. Belanger said results were supposed to be emailed to her, but never were. Nastuk said Belanger knows exactly what that test revealed.

"She (Mary) had been calling and emailing me persistently and I had said, 'Let's wait for the DNA test to come back.' When the tests came back negative, she didn't accept that," said Nastuk. "That's when she started saying (the test) wasn't true. 

"I told her she was welcome to go to an external source for a test and that's when she started sending me nasty emails."

Nastuk said she opened a line of communication with police in both Sudbury and Parry Sound regarding Belanger when the woman first came forward in 2016. She believes Belanger is suffering from mental illness.

"When I had talked to the police, they said they knew about her and it wasn't the first time she had made these allegations," said Nastuk. "She had gone to Parry Sound to get the DNA test done. The police officer called me and said that she (Belanger) had been screaming and saying that she was Diane, and she had to be physically removed from the property."

Nastuk thought the situation had been resolved with the DNA test results, but says that around a year ago Belanger began calling her siblings, saying that Lise wasn't listening to her.

Nastuk said for she and her family, the DNA test proving Belanger isn't Diane is enough for them. They know she isn't their long-lost sister.

"I don't know what she hopes to gain from this," Nastuk said.

She told Sudbury.com she wants the video removed from YouTube.




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