Friends and family of Selamneh Techane are trying to raise enough money to send his body back home to Africa from Fredericton.
Although the coroner's office says it is still trying to confirm the identity of a body discovered by firefighters in the attic of an apartment on Aberdeen Street on Feb. 8, Dereje Techane says authorities have told him the body was likely that of his brother, who went missing in the city in 2010.
"He was a very nice person," Dereje Techane said in a telephone interview from Tennessee.
"After my father passed away, he was acting as the father in my family," he said.
Techane says he still can't bring himself to tell their mother about his brother's death.
He hopes to travel to Fredericton to accompany his body back to Ethiopia, but the family needs help, he said.
$2,300 raised so far
"We have to get like, probably $15,000 to $20,000 to get him down there."
An online fundraiser has raised about $2,300, as of Tuesday afternoon. The goal is $10,000.
Jennifer Zilliac, of Oakland, Calif., created the page, called Funeral Expenses for Selamneh.
Last month, Zilliac told CBC News he was instrumental in helping her adopt a daughter from Ethiopia, where he worked as a taxi driver before moving to Fredericton.
"Selamneh Techane touched the lives of hundreds in Ethiopia, Canada, and the United States. So many families, like mine, relied on him during momentous periods of our lives," the website states.
Zilliac had previously created a Facebook page dedicated to finding Techane after he seemed to disappear about five years ago.
Alex Bedane was friends with Techane at that time.
"More than friendship. As a brother," he said.
Bedane says Techane moved into the apartment on Aberdeen Street after his marriage broke down in 2010.
"He had lived there for three weeks, I can say, then, he disappeared."
Bedane thought Techane had just quickly left town. But then a body was found in the attic of the same building following a suspicious fire in one of the units.
"It was very shocking for me because I didn't expect that," said Bedane.
Police have said the body was not connected to the fire.