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Old August 19th, 2009, 01:26 AM
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Default Grand Forks woman arrested in connection to autistic boy's death

Grand Forks woman arrested in connection to autistic boy's death

By Darah Hansen and Rebecca teBrake, Vancouver SunAugust 18, 2009 8:16 PM

GRAND FORKS — Until this week, Kimberly Ruth Noyes had a reputation among those who lived near her Grand Forks home as a good neighbour.

The 42-year-old receptionist and mother of three was a friendly face in the Gables, a tight-knit subsidized housing complex where she has lived for more than a year. Her home was considered a safe place for local kids to visit and a popular pitstop for parents in need of conversation and a cup of coffee.

But it became increasingly clear Tuesday — as police launched a hunt for Noyes in connection with the death of a 12-year-old autistic boy, whose body was found a day earlier inside her rental suite — that Noyes had another side.

Neighbours said she appeared to withdraw in recent weeks as she struggled with severe depression. She told friends she was unhappy that her two youngest children had gone to live with their father. She’d also lost her job at a local business after failing to show up for work.

Mental health workers had been spotted visiting the woman’s home, and neighbours said police had also been seen at the residence.

“She would just coop herself up in the house and never come out,” said Brenda Atchison, who lives a few doors down from Noyes in the same townhouse complex.

Still, no one was prepared when news broke that Noyes was wanted by police in connection with the death of her young neighbour, John David Fulton.

“It’s a shock to all of us,” said Atchison.

“My daughter used to have sleepovers at her place with her daughter and we used to go over there all the time and have supper,” she said.

Fulton, a “happy-go-lucky” kid, according to friends, had last been seen two days earlier on the steps of the home he shared with his mother and two sisters just a couple of doors’ down from Noyes’s suite.

The boy’s disappearance triggered a two-day, door-to-door search by police and concerned neighbours as they scoured the small border town of about 4,000 residents located about 522 km east of Vancouver. An aerial search by helicopter was launched Sunday morning.

By Monday, the police appeared to focus attention on Noyes’s rental suite. Neighbour Roxanne Erixon said she was surprised to see officers arrive at the unit around 6 p.m.

“I saw them banging on the door. I kept thinking, ‘Why is he [the officer] continuing doing that?’” Erixon said.

Police later raided the unit with guns drawn, neighbours said.

A terse RCMP press release issued Monday evening said officers had found Fulton’s body at 8 p.m.

“The cause of death is believed to be a homicide. South East Major Crime Unit will be investigating,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison said.

By Tuesday afternoon, police finally confirmed rumours that Fulton’s body had been found in Noyes’s suite, while at the same time asking for public assistance in locating Noyes, who had also gone missing.

In a written statement, investigators warned residents that Noyes posed “a threat to herself and possibly others due to her mental health.”

“Although not historically violent, due to Noyes current emotional state the RCMP is advising the public of the need for caution and awareness should Noyes be encountered,” police said.

Several people reported seeing Noyes early Tuesday morning around the town, including at the local Shell gas station, where a clerk said she “popped in, considered buying coffee and then took off.”

Another woman said she spotted the woman sitting on a picnic table outside Grand Forks senior secondary school around 8 a.m. She said the woman — whom she only later recognized as Noyes after police released her photo — caught her attention because she was wearing what appeared to be a dressing gown.

Noyes was eventually arrested “without incident” Tuesday around 4 p.m. on the school grounds.

She was in custody Tuesday evening as police continued to investigate the case.

Erixon was one of the last people to see Fulton alive. She was watering her plants around 4:45 p.m. and saw him sitting outside playing a Nintendo game.

“He’s a pretty happy-go-lucky kid,” she said.

“He likes to play his little Nintendo game. He likes to be out playing in the water with sprinklers and water guns.”

She said she was devastated by news of Fulton’s death.

“I’m just in shock. It’s terrible. For two days, I’ve been going around, helping to put up posters, and when I found out last night [about the homicide], it was a pretty sleepless night,” she said.

Erixon said she knew Noyes, who rented the unit two doors down from her own, and considered her a friend.

“I’m shocked. I knew she was depressed … But obviously she was in worse shape than we thought,” she said.

Neighbours said Fulton’s mother and sisters left the housing complex Monday night to stay with family.

Carolyn Lawrence, Fulton’s aunt, told The Sun Monday afternoon, before the boy’s body was found, that the family knew immediately something terrible had happened.

“The only place he’s ever run away from was school or camp and he ran straight home,” she said.

“He wasn’t wearing shoes [when he disappeared] ... so the idea of him walking somewhere is very unlikely,” Lawrence said.

Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor said news of the boy’s death has sent shock waves throughout the town.

“People here are nervous and very upset about this,” Taylor said.

RCMP waited 22 hours to call search and rescue to report Fulton was missing, which Harrison called regular police protocol for adolescents.

“With an adolescent teen, and let’s face it, he was going to be 13 years old in October, we generally tend to look at [teenage disappearances] with a critical eye and say, okay, a lot of times they will take off and we’ll see them the next morning,” Harrison said. “Given the particular circumstances neither [search and rescue’s] efforts or ours would have been fruitful.”

He said there have been no recent threats to children in the town.


With files from Rebecca teBrake, Vancouver Sun, and Nik Green, Special to The Sun


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