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James was last seen on October 29, 1988. He and his brother, David Lacouture, left James's Millbury, Massachusetts home to go to Hardwick, Massachusetts and work on a house David was building in a remote part of the city. They changed their minds and went to a local pub instead. Later that day, James's wife found David drunk and asleep on her couch. David told her James was home also, but he wasn't. His wife went to Hardwick to look for him, and called the police after she could not find him.
Authorities initially believed James was on a drinking binge and would return home soon, but he is now thought to have met with foul play. His wife stated it would be uncharacteristic of him to abandon her and their three children. David took his own life five days after his brother went missing. He left a suicide note which did not provide any information as to James's whereabouts. It is unclear whether David's suicide was related to his brother's disappearance.
James's wife believes he is deceased and has purchased a cemetery plot and tombstone for him. He has been declared legally dead, but his case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd.