News Canada

Ontario man sought in murder of stepson

By Grant LaFleche, The Standard

Niagara Regional Police are seeking Canada-wide arrest warrants for Justin Kuijer for first-degree murder and attempted murder in connection to the death of a seven-year-old St. Catharines boy and a Friday stabbing at a local bank.

On Sunday Const. Phil Gavin said police would apply for the warrants this morning when the courts open, and that the 43-year-old Kuijer is still considered to be armed and dangerous.

"We are talking about serious criminal offences here. Two families have suffered tremendously by these violent acts. This has impacted the entire community," Gavin said during a press briefing at the NRP's St. Catharines office. "We are asking anyone who has information about Mr. Kuijer to call 911."

Kuijer was already wanted for attempted murder after a man entered the RBC on Martindale Road Friday morning and stabbed an employee.

Gavin said 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.

About 10 minutes before the bank attack, a 911 call was made from an apartment at 173 Queenston St., where Kuijer's stepson, Nathan Dumas was found critically injured. He was discovered in the apartment by his mother Whitney Dumas.

The boy died at St. Catharines hospital Saturday morning.

The boy's mom said she arrived at the apartment at about 10:15 a.m Friday and was met at the front door by Kuijer, her ex-boyfriend, who had his bags packed and was ready to leave. The pair had been together for nearly six years, and Dumas had recently broke up with him.

"I said to him, 'Well let's go inside and talk about arrangements for our kids.' We have three kids," Dumas said in an interview with The Standard. "He asked for my keys to my van so he could go get a coffee. That's when I went into the house and found my son."

The cause of Nathan's death is not being released by police for investigative reasons, said Gavin.

"He was the kindest little boy you'd ever meet. Everybody loved him," his mom said in a tear-filled interview. "He was such an old soul."

Dumas said a friend of Nathan's lost an eye in an accident more than a year ago, and received a donated eye.

"He had two different eye colours, so I had to explain to Nathan why that was. And he said to me, 'Mom, that is what I want. If something ever happens to me, that's what I want,'" Dumas said.

"But we can't do that (donate Nathan's organs) because of the measures they took to try and save his life."

Dumas said she doesn't understand why anyone would want to hurt her son other than as a way to hurt her.

Dumas's Queenston Street apartment had been sealed by police until Saturday as part of their ongoing investigation. Gavin said the apartment has been released by police, but officers are remaining there as a security precaution.

"I don't have anything right now," Dumas said Saturday. "I don't have clothes for my kids. I don't have clothes for me. My whole world has been ripped apart. I just want justice for my son and for that lady at the bank. I want him found."

Friends of Dumas launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help pay for Nathan's funeral. In a Facebook post Saturday, Dumas said funeral arrangements for her son are being covered Victims Services Niagara.

Gavin said police will not discuss how the death of Nathan and the stabbing at the bank are connected.

He said the victim of the stabbing remains in stable condition. Her name and the hospital she is at are not being released as a security precaution while Kuijer remains at large, Gavin said.

Police began a manhunt for Kuijer, 43, of St. Catharines for attempted murder after the attack at the RBC Friday morning.

Police believe he is in Dumas's grey 2009 Pontiac Montana van with the licence plate BYTE 392.

Gavin said there is a floral sticker on the back of the van in memory of missing women in Canada related to Ashley Simpson, a St. Catharines woman and Dumas's friend who disappeared in British Columbia in 2016.

Police do not know where Kuijer is, and have been in contact with other law enforcement agencies, including Ontario Provincial Police and border patrol officers, as part of their investigation, Gavin said.

He urged Kuijer to turn himself in peacefully.

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

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