GRAND FORKS, B.C. — In a small subsidized rental complex, an impromptu memorial outside the home of a slain 12-year-old boy sits just a few doors down from an identical townhouse that is surrounded by police tape, the place where his body was found.
Even 48 hours after the gruesome discovery of John Fulton’s remains, the image still whipsaws the emotions, says Teresa Taylor, a resident of the 25-unit complex called The Gables.
“You kind of go through these waves where you kind of feel like you’re all together and the next thing you know you’re breaking down into tears,” Taylor said Wednesday.
“It’s one thing to look out the door and see the vigil right in front of the house. We’ve got candles and teddy bears there and stuff.”
“Then two doors down, the police tape. That part of it is quite difficult.”
Fulton vanished from the steps of his home Saturday evening. An intensive search for the friendly, autistic child was launched immediately.
But on Monday police barged into a neighbour’s empty home where they said they found Fulton’s body.
Kimberley Noyes was arrested Tuesday afternoon after someone spotted her on a Grand Forks street and called police.
Wednesday, the RCMP announced Noyes has been charged with second-degree murder.
“Kimberly Noyes made an appearance before a justice of the peace late (Wednesday) afternoon by way of teleconference from the Grand Forks RCMP detachment,” said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
Noyes’s next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Moskaluk declined comment when asked what factors led to the second-degree murder charge.
Fulton’s family remains in seclusion away from the house, where steps away police were still dusting for fingerprints at the Noyes home Wednesday.
“It would be tough enough to come home to your house with all your child’s belongings there,” said Taylor.
“But to come home to your house and have the crime scene still up and operating, I can see why they’re staying away.”
The family did not show up at either of the two vigils residents held Tuesday evening — a small one at 8 p.m., precisely 72 hours after he disappeared, and a larger one at 10 p.m. that drew 100 people from this town of 4,000 on the Canada-U.S. border.
The family issued a statement late Tuesday thanking police and search volunteers but also questioning how the RCMP handled the boy’s disappearance, including the lack of an Amber Alert.
“We do not know if this could have saved Johnny’s life, nor do we wish to speculate,” the statement says.
“However, we feel strongly that any child with autism should automatically qualify as an Amber Alert.”
Autistic people have trouble communicating and difficulty with normal social interactions, the statement says. They also tend to repeat specific behaviour patterns.
“Our family knew there was no way John could have run away, because his autism would not have allowed him to go out of his comfort zone,” it says.
“We do understand why an Amber Alert cannot be issued every time a preteen is missing for a few hours, however Johnny was not a typical preteen.”
Even if it had not issued an Amber Alert, the RCMP should not have waited 20 hours to bring in search and rescue teams, the statement says.
The RCMP defended their response to Fulton’s disappearance.
Moskaluk said police began a ground search with dogs and aircraft Saturday night as soon as the boy was reported missing, and added search-and-rescue personnel on Sunday.
“Normally we do not do a lot of night searches but in this case (we did) both nights,” he said.
“Saturday night, it went on till 5 a.m. with our resources, then again the next day and again well into the night with search and rescue the next day.”
Moskaluk added posters about Fulton were being distributed Sunday within 12 hours of his disappearance.
The RCMP don’t begrudge the family’s statement, Moskaluk said.
“It’s part and parcel of it (the tragedy) and we don’t criticize them for that and fully support them through this,” he said.
Meanwhile, neighbours at The Gables were trying to understand what may have happened.
There appear to be two images of Noyes, a 42-year-old mother of three children, none of whom were living with her at the time.
Taylor said some neighbours now say they witnessed outbursts.
She said one of her neighbours, a longtime friend of Noyes’s even before she moved into The Gables a year ago, had broken off their relationship.
“They hung out together and their kids played together, that sort of thing,” said Taylor.
“She had a few things happen and stopped interacting with her much.”
But Kevin Thiessen, a designer at Boundary Truss, where Noyes worked for most of the last six years until quitting in mid-June, said Noyes was a quiet, nice person.
“She was a book-keeper so she didn’t really deal with customers a lot,” he said. “She was friendly to all of us.”
The RCMP have said Noyes has bipolar disorder.
— By Steve Mertl in Vancouver
Noyes was arrested Tuesday afternoon after police barged into her empty home Monday night and found Fulton’s remains.
RCMP say Fulton was first reported missing Saturday and an intensive air and ground search began that evening.
Police burst into Noyes’s home after no one answered the door during their check of other residences in the 25-unit complex.
Noyes, who police say has bipolar disorder, was arrested after a 911 call advised RCMP of her whereabouts.