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A metro Detroit teen disappeared in Aruba in 2004. His mom is still fighting for answers.

'My biggest grief is the loss of my son and not knowing what happened to him.'
Max DeVries
Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 19:11:17-04

(WXYZ) — It’s been nearly 20 years since a mom from Brighton last watched her son ride away on a jet ski during a family vacation in Aruba. But 14-year-old Max DeVries was never seen again, and his mom has been fighting for answers ever since.

The 7 Investigators first exposed the serious questions about the men at the center of this disappearance nearly two decades ago. Now there’s a new effort to get justice for Max.

Exactly one year before the world was horrified by the disappearance of high school senior Natalee Holloway in Aruba, a teen from Brighton vanished in the waters off the same island.

“My biggest grief is the loss of my son and not knowing what happened to him,” said Yvonne DeVries in the new Paramount + series “Never Seen Again.”

But Max DeVries never became a household name, and his 2004 disappearance is still unsolved.

The 7 Investigators first brought you Max’s story nearly two decades ago.

“Was my son set up to be taken in Aruba,” said Yvonne back then in an interview with 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

In May of 2004, DeVries took 14-year-old Max and his 12-year-old sister Dominque to Aruba for what she hoped would be a healing family vacation.

They were still reeling from the sudden death of their father.

But at their resort, DeVries says a man from Illinois, and his adopted adult son, befriended them. The next day, the older man offered to take Max jet skiing.

“Max was jumping up and down really excited, [saying] ‘let me go, let me go!!’ And I did,” said DeVries.

It’s what happened next that prompted Paramount + to include Max’s story in their series “Never Seen Again.” DeVries hopes the global exposure can finally get law enforcement back to work on her son’s case.

VIDEO: Watch an excerpt from the new docuseries below:

Watch excerpt from docuseries on Max DeVries

“There’s that moment where you’re just like it’s been too long, something is not right,” said Dominque DeVries in the docuseries about those horrible moments in Aruba when they realized Max was not yet back from his jet ski ride.

“A boat came in and there was the older gentleman, by himself,” said Yvonne DeVries.

Max was gone.

DeVries says the 56-year-old man told multiple stories to the police in Aruba about what happened to Max out in the ocean.

Police reports obtained by the 7 Investigators show that at first, he said Max’s jet ski stopped working, and that he tried to tow the watercraft, but that stranded both machines.

Then the man later said Max somehow slipped away from him in the water.

And then his story changed yet again when he claimed he saw Max swimming for shore.

Despite those inconsistencies, no arrests were made, and after days of searching Yvonne says authorities in Aruba just said Max was lost at sea.

Back at home, Yvonne enlisted the help of now-retired Livonia detective Cory Williams.

“So I made a phone call to check on the backgrounds of both of these men, and within minutes I got a response: one of the statements given by the younger man – he told the police in 1981 he had been a victim of his dad for crimes against children,” said Williams in the docuseries.

The men have not been charged in the disappearance of Max DeVries, so the 7 Investigators are not naming them.

“For a little boy who was lost and taken from his sister, his family, for all those who loved and missed him, to not even still have a death certificate for this day… I want the follow-through that he never got from the very beginning,” Yvonne told Catallo during an interview Tuesday. “There’s been nothing other than a little boy lost at sea. And that's not what it was. Was he abducted? Was he sold? Was he molested and killed on the water? Something happened, and I just want to know what happened…. I just have that limbo of wondering what happened to Max that day.”

DeVries says many more details have emerged in the last two decades and she hopes the FBI will re-open the case.

“There was an FBI file with an active number. If they can just reactivate that number and get that case activated again, that's all we need,” said DeVries. “I just want to know. At this point, nothing's going to bring him back. But it's time to give that little boy some justice.”

Max’s story with those new details was released last month on Paramount +.

Yvonne is hoping that if just one person who knows something can come forward it could be the clue they need to solve what happened to Max.

To follow updates on his case, click here.

If you have a story for Heather Catallo, please email her at