A memorial sits outside of the home of seven-year-old victim Nathan Dumas in St. Catharines, Ont., on March 20, 2017. (Tara Walton/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
As police scour the country for an Ontario man accused of killing his seven-year-old stepson, the child’s family is preparing to lay him to rest.
The family of Nathan Dumas says the boy’s funeral will be held on Friday not far from his home in St. Catharines, Ont.
The funeral will take place exactly a week before what would have been Nathan’s eighth birthday and a week to the day since police allege he was fatally injured by his stepfather.
Niagara regional police allege 43-year-old Justin Kuijer attacked the boy on Friday morning, causing undisclosed injuries that led to his death in hospital the next day.
They allege Kuijer also stabbed an employee of a local RBC branch moments after the attack on Nathan, sending her to hospital.
Police are searching for Kuijer, who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for second-degree murder and attempted murder.
An obituary for Nathan makes no mention of the manner in which the boy died, but focuses instead on how his family remembers him.
“Nathan was truly a kind, loving boy with a big heart, full of compassion for everyone and everything. He was always quick to help anyone who may have been in need,” the obituary reads.
“As the polite young gentleman he was, he never missed an opportunity to open a door, give a gift or come to the defence of a good friend. Nathan truly felt the joy of giving, never looking for anything in return. There are no words to express the unbearable heartbreak we feel in his loss.”
Nathan is survived by his mother and younger siblings, the obituary states, adding that his little brother looked up to him as a “best buddy” while his baby sister will be told growing up “what an amazing big brother she had.”
The obituary said he is also mourned by his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and grade two classmates at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in St. Catharines.
Visitations will take place on Thursday night and Friday afternoon at the Pleasantview Funeral Home in Thorold, Ont., with a celebration of life service to take place following the Friday afternoon visitation.
Meanwhile, police said they were continuing the hunt for Kuijer as more than 100 tips poured in from across the country.
Niagara police Const. Phil Gavin said efforts are focused on tracking down the vehicle Kuijer was last seen driving, which belonged to Nathan’s mother.
The dark grey van carried Ontario licence BYTE392 and bore a distinctive floral decal referencing missing person Ashley Simpson, but Gavin concedes such telltale items may have been removed.
“That’s a key piece for us,” he said. “Once we locate the van, it’s a starting point to conduct the search from there. We really want to impress upon the public how important finding that van is.”
Gavin said police are urging the public to watch for the vehicle in parking lots, particularly in commuter or long-term parking zones, and to contact police with any leads.
He said Kuijer is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached.