Arrests of mother, stepfather for murder of 6-year-old took far too long, boy's father says
The last time Patrick Lucas saw his son was the week before Christmas in 2017.
"We were ice skating, gave him all these Christmas presents," Lucas said. "I remember his laugh and smile. His laugh was so contagious. The beautiful little smile. He was such a happy boy. A really happy boy."
Less than three months later, Lucas's six-year-old son Dontay was dead.
Dontay, who is of Hesquiaht descent, was found in medical distress in a Port Alberni home on March 13, 2018, and was taken to hospital, but did not survive.
On Friday, more than four years after the young boy was killed, Dontay's mother, Rykel Frank, and her partner, Mitchell Frank, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Until then, no arrests had been made in the case.
"When I received the news, I just broke down crying right away," Lucas said.
'My boy's ... free'
Lucas says while he's pleased with the outcome of the investigation, the arrests took far too long.
Judith Sayers, the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council of which the Hesquiaht First Nation is a part, said people in the community knew the situation and were growing frustrated with the legal process.
"These two have been able to live their lives and do whatever they want in the last four years," she said.
Sayers has been pressuring investigators and politicians to expedite the process and get answers as to why it took so long.
Port Alberni RCMP Const. Richard Johns said investigators took their time gathering evidence, watching hours of video, speaking with dozens of witnesses and reviewing cell phone data.
Sgt. Clayton Wiebe said the amount of material gathered is "enormous," and Crown counsel was also required to review it, which took time.
"I empathize with the Lucas family," Wiebe said. "I understand four years is a long time. Television makes homicides look very easy. In fact, they're not. Four years is a long time to wait for answers. And unfortunately, these things are just very complex."
Sayers says she'd like to see more staff hired in the area and in Victoria to be able to push these types of investigations through faster.
Although the accused still need to stand trial, Lucas says he's relieved that his son can finally "fly free."
"It's time for real healing to really begin," he said. "I believe that now justice is actually served, my boy's actually allowed to rest in peace. He's free."
Dontay was one of Lucas' 10 children, and he said Dontay's siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles miss him every day.
"There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about him. There is a lot of stress, a lot of frustration built up, so much anger," Dontay's aunt, Melissa Lucas, told CBC.
Rykel and Mitchell Frank are scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, according to RCMP.