Police have announced first-degree murder charges in the case of a six-year-old boy killed in Port Alberni in 2018.
Mitchell Frank, 29, and Rykel Frank, 28, were charged Saturday with the murder of Dontay Lucas, according to a statement from the Port Alberni RCMP.
The six-year-old boy died on March 13, 2018. His father, Patrick Lucas, has spent the last four years struggling to get answers about what happened that day.
At the time of Dontay’s death, Patrick was told that the boy had fallen down the stairs of the row house on 8th Avenue where the boy lived with his mother and hit his head.
But Lucas was later told that the young man had bite marks on his body, and as recently as March, the father had yet to receive any response.
At a vigil for Dontay this year, Patrick told CTV News that he had heard from the RCMP that they were close to solving the case.
“They say that the information they have is confidential, and the only information they can give me is that the case is almost closed and they have evidence to indict two people,” he said. “That’s all I’ve been told.”
In its statement announcing the charges on Saturday, the RCMP said the investigation is still ongoing.
“These investigations are difficult for everyone involved, and we understand that the time it has taken to get to this point has been challenging for the community,” said Insp. Eric Rochette, officer in charge of the Port Alberni task force, in the statement. .
Police said no further information on the case would be provided this weekend. RCMP will hold a news conference Monday at 10 am to answer questions about the case.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which provides services to 14 First Nations members on Vancouver Island, released a statement about the arrests in which it identified the defendants as Dontay’s mother and stepfather.
“It is a great relief that charges have finally been brought in this matter and the NTC is not happy that it has taken more than 4 years to bring charges against the accused,” the council’s statement read.
NTC President Judith Sayers added that the case reflects what she sees as deeper problems in the justice system.
“The death of any person is very sad, but it is even sadder when it comes to a young child with their whole life ahead of them,” Sayers said in the statement.
“When death is due to family violence, we know that there is still a need to heal in our communities from residential schools, racism and colonization. Charges have finally been filed… The justice system has to do better. Now the family has another long wait for the trial to begin.”
The NTC thanked the RCMP for its “thorough investigation” and its efforts to communicate with the council, whose members have criticized police communication on this case in the past.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Ahousaht and Hesquiaht communities, where this child has family ties, and we hope this announcement brings them closure,” the NTC statement concluded. “We keep you close to our hearts during this devastating time.”