Patrick Lucas recalls the last time he saw his son, Dontay, was in December 2017. The two went ice skating, and Patrick gave his son all his Christmas presents.
“I remember his laugh and his smile,” said Patrick Lucas. “His laugh was so contagious. He was such a happy boy.”
Just a few months later, on March 13, 2018, first responders in Port Alberni were called to a home where a six-year-old boy was in medical distress. Hours later, Dontay-Patrick Lucas was pronounced dead and Port Alberni RCMP began a four-year investigation into his death.
On May 6, 2022, Port Alberni RCMP arrested Dontay’s mother, Rykel Frank (née Charleson), and her husband Mitchell Frank. The couple has been charged with first degree murder over Dontay’s death and are currently being held in police custody.
RCMP and Dontay’s family met with members of the media on May 9, 2022 to shed more light on the 2018 death. “It’s been a long four years,” Patrick Lucas said. “I’m just happy it’s starting to happen.”
Cst. Richard Johns, Media Relations Officer for the Port Alberni RCMP, said that officers reviewed hours of video, spoke with dozens of witnesses and reviewed cell phone data and reports from outside agencies in order to lay the charges.
“In order to ensure that officers were ready to have this matter before the courts immediately, painstaking efforts were made to ensure every piece of evidence has been disclosed to the BC Prosecution Service and that the investigation is ready to stand trial,” he added.
Sgt. Clayton Wiebe of the Port Alberni RCMP said that officers submitted an “enormous” amount of material to Crown Counsel. They had to wait for charges to be approved before making any arrests.
“Four years is a long time to wait for answers, and unfortunately these things are very complex,” he said. “Television makes these investigations look simple, but in fact they’re not. Sometimes we wait a year for a report on forensics.”
Patrick Lucas was in Ahousaht on May 6 when he received a phone call from the RCMP stating that they had made two arrests. He and his family travelled out to Port Alberni for the media conference on Monday.
“When I received the news, I broke up crying right away,” said Lucas. “It’s been an emotional weekend for my family and myself, especially my kids. My kids are really missing their little brother.
“It’s time for our real healing to begin.”
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president Mariah Charleson said in a statement that four years is too long for family and loved ones of a six-year-old victim of murder to wait for justice.
“We must push the justice system to work in a way that proves to us all that our lives are valued and cherished,” she said. “Four years is simply too long.”
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Judith Sayers also attended the press conference on Monday.
“We know that our communities still suffer from the results of residential schools and colonialism and racism,” she said. “There’s still family violence that we’re trying to deal with. This is a very sad case. At the same time, we’re happy that the justice system is now going to start.”
The Franks are next scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, May 11.