Police hunt father in children's deaths

Suspect had been arrested and freed three times in week before B.C. slayings


Allan Dwayne Schoenborn is shown in an RCMP handout photo. Police say a manhunt is under way for Schoenborn, the father of three children found slain in their Merritt, B.C., home. (April 7, 2008)


Apr 08, 2008 04:30 AM
Petti Fong
Western Canada Bureau Chief

MERRITT, B.C.ľOn their last afternoon, Max and Cordon were outside flying a new kite, their eyes turned upwards as they followed the fluttering wings' path toward the blue sky.

This is what Dave Lockie, their neighbour, wants to remember.

"They were just little kids and the fact they could get this kite going was pretty amazing," said Lockie. "I think they felt pretty proud at what they had done."

This is what neighbour Barb Delorme can't forget.

"The sounds of the mom screaming. Just screaming and you knew," said Delorme, her voice breaking as she recalls the anguish she heard on a police scanner radio after the mother of three children discovered their bodies in the family's living room.

"It's one of the sounds I'll never forget," added Dorothy Mills, Delorme's mother, who was also listening to the scanner.

Police were still on the scene yesterday in Merritt, B.C., with the bodies of the three children inside.

Their mother came home Sunday afternoon to find the bodies of Kaitlynne, 10, and her brothers Max, 7, and Cordon, 5, all dead, after leaving them in the care of their father, Allan Dwayne Schoenborn, 40.

Police are still searching for Schoenborn, who is the suspect in the fatal stabbings of the three children, and believe he may be hiding in the bush near Merritt, about 270 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

Residents in Merritt were originally comforted Sunday afternoon by news that the suspected killer had also died.

"All I heard on the news was he may have committed suicide," said Misty McKenna, one of the steady stream of visitors who arrived at the scene to leave cards, flowers and toys. She was shocked to learn yesterday afternoon the suspect was still alive. "It's something that everyone should have known. We thought he was dead."

RCMP had initially said there was no manhunt and no concern after the bodies of the three children were found.

But yesterday Const. Julie Rattee said while Schoenborn, who was known to police, is obviously considered dangerous, police believe the death of the three children was "a targeted offence."

"There's been no indication that anybody else is specifically at risk, meaning the general public," said Rattee, defending the RCMP's decision not to inform the public that Schoenborn was at large.

RCMP in Alberta and Saskatchewan were also put on alert about Schoenborn, who is believed to be travelling with his large dog and has expressed a wish to camp out in the bush. He has a distinctive scar on his right eyebrow that continues down the right side of his face and scars on both ears.

Schoenborn had been arrested three times in the past week: once for driving while prohibited, the second time for being intoxicated in a public place, and the third for an incident at the children's school three days before their deaths.

Police arrested Schoenborn at Diamond Vale elementary school, where the girl and two boys attended classes, on Thursday afternoon. He was released two days later and ordered not to contact the principal of the school or any of the students.

Last May, Schoenborn was arrested in Vancouver on charges of sexual assault and uttering threats against a woman, according to court documents.

The sexual assault charges against him were dropped last July when Schoenborn agreed to stay away from the woman he was accused of sexually assaulting and posted a $500 bond to keep the peace.

Last August, he was charged with breaching his conditions, which included not being near the woman's Vancouver home if he had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 hours.

He pleaded guilty to one count and was fined $200 but the second count was stayed.

The RCMP said Schoenborn had access to his children but was not allowed to be with them at the same time as their mother. On Sunday, the mother left to go to the grocery store and returned less than half an hour later.

Kendra Bennett, 9, another friend of Kaitlynne's, said the girl had trouble in her new school after the family moved to the area at the start of the school year.

"Kids always teased her because of what she wore and no one really liked her because she was new," said Kendra. "She only had a few friends."

The focus is now on finding ways to help the children's mother, who was taken to hospital after making the horrific discovery.

"We feel angry and sad," said Teri Clayton as she wheeled her two daughters in their stroller into a coffee shop.

"We're angry that police didn't tell us sooner this guy was still around, and everyone today is just thinking of the mom and what we can do to help her."


With files from The Canadian Press