Police in Prince Rupert are looking for the public’s help to solve a 21-year-old homicide that killed four people.
Investigators are once again asking for the public’s assistance in solving the deaths that took place in the early morning of Feb. 5, 1990 that wiped out three generations of one family.
A fire tore through the Brooks Bank Building on 153 3rd Avenue, West at 5:15 a.m. that morning, killing 45 year old Helga Rochon, her two daughters Sherri, 26, and Pauline, 19, and Pauline’s 7-month-old daughter Kimberly Dumais.
When fire crews arrived, the building was fully involved and efforts focused on putting out the blaze while minimizing the spread of the flames. It took crews hours to put out the blaze and when investigators examined the damage, the bodies of the four victims were discovered on the third floor where Helga lived. The building contained businesses on the main floor and apartments on the second and third floors.
Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr, the original lead investigator at the time of the incident, still remembers the moment they discovered the victims.
“I still think about the moment,” he said. “The scene was horrific. I can still see them huddled together in the living room area, the small child still in her mother’s arms. I can’t imagine the horror they went through.”
The investigation soon determined that the fire had been deliberately set and that the cause of the fire was arson. Also, three months earlier, on Oct. 31, 1989, the Prince Rupert Fire Department attended an apartment fire in the same Brooks Bank Building at approximately 2:45 a.m. That incident was also determined to be arson.
Despite neighbourhood canvasses, numerous interviews and following up on a number of leads, no one was charged for the crime. The investigation was reviewed by the North District Major Crime Unit and taken on by the Provincial Historical Homicide unit in 2009. Police have not ruled out that the victims were targeted.
While investigators acknowledge that time has passed since family was killed in 1990, they still believe that there are people out there who have information that will allow the police to move forward on these cases; there is still information out there from people who may have seen or heard something suspicious. For example, if someone was acting suspicious around the time of the fatal fire, if something was said about the family, if anyone was seen leaving the scene of the fire.
Helga was a single mother worked as waitress at the local café in the Crest Hotel. She was known as a happy and very friendly woman, who was personable and well liked by her regular customers. She was also known as a supportive woman, especially to her kids and new grandchild.
The father of 7-month-old Kimberly Dumais, Tim, and other surviving family members and friends want the individual responsible to be brought to justice before another anniversary comes and goes.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit at 1-877-543-4822 or Crime Stoppers.