Charges announced in 2018 killing of 6-year-old Port Alberni boy

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 each charged Saturday with the murder of Dontay Lucas, according to a statement from Port Alberni RCMP.

The six-year-old died on March 13, 2018. His father, Patrick Lucas, has spent the last four years fighting for answers as to what happened that day.

At the time of Dontay's death, Patrick was told that the boy had fallen down the stairs at the townhome on 8th Avenue where the child was living with his mother and hit his head.

But later, Lucas was told that the youngster had bite marks on his body, and as recently as this March, the father still hadn't received any answers.

At a vigil for Dontay this year, Patrick told CTV News he had heard from RCMP that they were close to resolving the case.

"They say the information they have is confidential, and the only information they're able to give me is that the case is almost closed and they have evidence to charge two people," he said. "That's all that's been said to me."

In their statement announcing the charges Saturday, RCMP said the investigation is still ongoing.

“These investigations are difficult for everyone involved, and we understand the length of time that 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 detachment, in the statement.

Police said no further information on the case would be provided this weekend. RCMP will hold a news conference on Monday at 10 a.m. to answer questions on the case. 

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which provides services for 14 member First Nations on Vancouver Island, issued a statement on the arrests in which it identified those charged as Dontay's mother and step-father.

"It is a huge relief that charges have finally been brought in this matter and the NTC is not happy that it took over 4 years to bring charges against the accused," the council's statement reads.

NTC president Judith Sayers added that the case reflects what she sees as deeper issues in the justice system.

“The death of any person is very sad, but it is even sadder when it is a young child with their whole life ahead of them," said Sayers in the statement.

"When the death is due to family violence, we know there is still healing to be done in our communities from residential schools, racism, and colonization. At long last, charges have been brought … The justice system has to do better. Now the family have another long wait for the trial to begin."

The NTC thanked the RCMP for their "thorough investigation" and their efforts to communicate with the council, members of which have been critical of police communication on this case in the past.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the communities of Ahousaht and Hesquiaht where this child holds family ties and hope this announcement brings you some closure," the NTC statement concluded. "We hold you close to our hearts during this devastating time."