WINNIPEG — Dakota Hunter had turned 17 only two days before his bloody, beaten body was found by the side of a road on a northern Manitoba reserve.
The death of the quiet volunteer from the Nelson House First Nation has left family members baffled. RCMP charged two 16-year-olds from the remote reserve, 850 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, with second-degree murder on Monday.
They were taken into custody sometime after Hunter’s body was found Saturday.
“We don’t even know what, why, who,” said Colleen Hunter, his aunt. “We still have many questions to be answered. How did that happen? Why was it him?”
Hunter’s badly beaten body was found at 4:30 a.m. by RCMP officers on the reserve. He was taken to Thompson, about 45 minutes away, where he died of his injuries.
RCMP say an autopsy concluded Hunter died from “multiple injuries due to trauma.”
By all accounts, Hunter was a quiet kid who mostly kept to himself.
He had been bullied several years ago but gained some confidence by enrolling in martial arts.
He loved the sport — and won a medal for his prowess — but didn’t use it in defence against his tormentors, his aunt said.
“He wouldn’t use that for violence,” she said. “He wouldn’t defend himself to hurt somebody.”
Hunter’s story was the focus of a CBC profile four years ago, but his aunt said he had recently quit taekwondo. He was still heavily involved in running, though, and devoted time to volunteering, she said.
He helped his friend Tori Yetman raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through her annual “Tori’s Run.” Hunter was also part of the Lance Runners Society, a Cree organization dedicated to eliminating violence.
“He was a good kid, well-liked,” his aunt said. “He was quiet. He was involved in various activities.”
Hunter was filling out all the necessary forms to get a social insurance card and his own identification, she added. He was just starting to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.
Hunter wasn’t in a gang and had a promising life ahead of him, she said.
“He was at a crossroads. There were many opportunities that he could choose from. He was making choices. At that age, it’s hard to make a concrete decision as to what career goals to make.”
He was last seen with two young men who had come looking for him at his home, she said.
RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said a motive for the homicide is “something that is going to be presented to court, not to the media.”
Although charges have been laid, the investigation is still ongoing.