Man­hunt con­tin­ues for mur­der sus­pect

The Niagara Falls Review - - FRONT PAGE - AL­LAN BEN­NER

While a na­tion­wide po­lice man­hunt con­tin­ues for a sus­pect wanted in the al­leged mur­der of a seven-year-old boy, St. Catharines residents are still try­ing to come to grips with the chain of events which un­folded Fri­day.

“No­body’s safe … It’s hor­rific. It’s just aw­ful,” said a woman who works near the apart­ment at 173 Queen­ston St. where Nathan Du­mas lived with his mother Whit­ney Du­mas, step­fa­ther Justin Kui­jer and two sib­lings.

Ni­a­gara Re­gional Po­lice ob­tained a Canada-wide ar­rest war­rant on Mon­day for the ar­rest of Kui­jer, 43, who is now wanted for se­cond-de­gree mur­der in Nathan’s death and at­tempted mur­der for a Fri­day stab­bing which oc­curred at a Royal Bank branch on Martin­dale Road.

Neigh­bours of the fam­ily were re­luc­tant to give their names to me­dia Mon­day morn­ing, as yel­low po­lice tape wrapped the home where Nathan lived and where po­lice con­tin­ued their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The se­ries of events be­gan to un­fold Fri­day morn­ing when a 911 call was made from the Queen­ston St. apart­ment where Kui­jer’s step­son was found crit­i­cally in­jured. He was dis­cov­ered in the home by his mother just af­ter she spoke to Kui­jer out­side their home be­fore he drove off in a grey van.

The boy died at St. Catharines hospi­tal Satur­day morn­ing.

About 10 min­utes af­ter Fri­day’s 911 call was made, a man who po­lice have iden­ti­fied as Kui­jer en­tered the RBC, where an em­ployee was stabbed. Po­lice be­lieve the woman was de­lib­er­ately tar­geted, and the at­tack was nei­ther the re­sult of a do­mes­tic dis­pute nor a rob­bery gone bad. Po­lice said the vic­tim was known to her as­sailant but po­lice are still try­ing to de­ter­mine the mo­tive for the at­tack. Po­lice warn that Kui­jer is still con­sid­ered to be armed and dan­ger­ous. The woman who spoke to The

Stan­dard Mon­day said she watched as paramedics car­ried Nathan to a wait­ing am­bu­lance Fri­day morn­ing.

“It’s not some­thing as a mother you ever want to see or have hap­pen,” the woman said. “It’s just hard to imag­ine. They were just a nor­mal fam­ily.”

She said the tragedy has left her with feel­ings of anx­i­ety.

“I pulled up to work to­day and I felt sick. My heart was pound­ing and I was just like, oh my God!” she said. “I just want them to catch him.”

Const. Phil Gavin said po­lice have been work­ing “al­most around the clock since Fri­day” try­ing to catch the sus­pect.

“We’re run­ning down dif­fer­ent tips and leads. Each one we have to work through, but we have noth­ing con­crete right now,” he said.

Po­lice ini­tially in­tended to charge Kui­jer with first-de­gree mur­der — a charge re­flected in ar­rest war­rant posters is­sued as early as Mon­day morn­ing. Gavin said the charges have since been changed to se­cond-de­gree mur­der.

“With the on­go­ing and fluid na­ture of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the in­ves­tiga­tive team made the de­ci­sion that se­cond-de­gree (mur­der) was the more ap­pro­pri­ate charge, and that’s what they went for­ward with,” he said.

Gavin said po­lice have re­ceived sev­eral tips from peo­ple be­liev­ing they had seen the grey van Kui­jer is believed to be driv­ing — a 2009 Pon­tiac Mon­tana with li­cence plate BYTE 392.

“This is a very trau­matic thing for peo­ple and it cer­tainly gets their at­ten­tion,” he said.

“We get tips, but we have to look at the cred­i­bil­ity and the strength of each tip. We cer­tainly do task peo­ple to fol­low up on those tips if they have some cred­i­ble el­e­ment. Some­times we get things from very well-mean­ing peo­ple say­ing, ‘I saw a grey van go­ing down the street, and it looked the same.’ … We fol­low up on each one as best we can with the re­sources we have.”

An­other woman, who said she knows the fam­ily well, de­scribed Nathan’s mother as “an awe­some per­son.”

“They’re not a dys­func­tional fam­ily. You’d never sus­pect this,” she said.

The woman said Kui­jer had raised Nathan since he was a baby, and seemed like a good fa­ther.

See­ing emer­gency work­ers ar­rive at the apart­ment Fri­day morn­ing “was just shock­ing,” she said. It’s some­thing she said she never would have ever ex­pected — “never in a mil­lion years.”

Kui­jer’s Face­book pro­file says he’s the owner/op­er­a­tor of Ni­a­gara Elite Roofing, but the woman said Kui­jer hasn’t worked in a few years due, she be­lieves, to a back in­jury.

While Du­mas worked, the woman said, Kui­jer in­stead raised his step­son along with a four-year-old boy and six-month-old girl the cou­ple had to­gether.

“He’s a stay-at-home dad,” she said.

The woman who works from the nearby busi­ness said there had been no in­di­ca­tion from the fam­ily that any­thing was wrong, adding Du­mas never com­plained about Kui­jer.

“It wasn’t like, ‘I’m hav­ing a fight with him or an ar­gu­ment,’” she said.

Asked if Kui­jer is believed to still be in the Ni­a­gara area, Gavin said “the re­al­ity is, we don’t know where he is.”

Gavin said con­cerns about the dis­tance Kui­jer could have trav­elled since 10:25 a.m. on Fri­day led lo­cal po­lice to re­quest the Canadaw­ide war­rant.

Po­lice also re­leased an up­dated wanted poster Mon­day morn­ing with ad­di­tional pic­tures of Kui­jer.

Mean­while, Gavin said the in­jured RBC em­ployee, who has not been iden­ti­fied, re­mains in sta­ble con­di­tion in hospi­tal.

“We haven’t dis­cussed what hap­pened or why it hap­pened, we can just say they knew each other pro­fes­sion­ally. It wasn’t do­mes­tic re­lated, or a failed rob­bery or any­thing like that,” he re­it­er­ated.

The branch, closed dur­ing the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, was re­opened to cus­tomers Mon­day morn­ing. Work­ers from neigh­bour­ing busi­nesses within Hunt­ing­ton Square plaza shared the same con­cerns as those on Queen­ston Street.

“It was very up­set­ting,” said Kelly York­sie, owner of Bam­boo Nat­u­ral Foods, next door to the RBC branch.

“It puts things into per­spec­tive of what’s re­ally im­por­tant,” she said. “It was very un­set­tling, I think, for ev­ery­body ob­serv­ing and in the area. Shock­ing, too. It’s hor­rific, re­ally.”

York­sie’s busi­ness was one of sev­eral that were shut down Fri­day dur­ing the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“They asked us to lock our doors, and we were closed un­til about 2:30 p.m. We were just try­ing to help,” she said. “I just wanted to know that peo­ple were safe.”

Po­lice are asking any­one who knows the lo­ca­tion of Kui­jer or the van to call 911.

He is de­scribed as white with a thin build, trimmed beard and longer dark hair. He was last seen wear­ing a black tuque, brown leather coat, dark pants, boots and an or­ange hoodie.

Nathan Du­mas

Kui­jer

BOB TYMCZYSZYN/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Me­dia out­side the ad­dress of 173 Queen­ston St. af­ter a press con­fer­ence early Mon­day morn­ing. Ni­a­gara Re­gional Po­lice are seek­ing Canada-wide ar­rest war­rants for Justin Kui­jer for se­cond-de­gree mur­der in the death of his step­son and at­tempted mur­der af­tera woman was stabbed at a lo­cal bank.

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