On Campus

RCMP close book on N.B. professor’s murder, but release few details

Popular STU prof was one of the university’s longest-serving professors

The RCMP say they have closed their investigation into the slaying of a popular university professor in New Brunswick after the body of the man wanted for his murder was found in a car outside a hotel parking lot in Moncton.

The RCMP believes Nicholas Wade Baker, 27, killed John McKendy, 60, at the professor’s home in Douglas, N.B.

However, investigators refused to say how Baker died as they assured the public they were not looking for anyone else in the killing of the professor who taught at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

“We were able to connect the evidence we had on Saturday at all the scenes that we had, plus the scene in Moncton in the car, and all these tied in together. There is no doubt in any of the investigators that this is the suspect in question,” Cpl. Claude Tremblay told reporters.

Before Baker’s body was found Saturday, police had charged him with first-degree murder after identifying him as a suspect on Friday in the killing of McKendy, whose body was found in his home.

Tremblay said details of what happened and the identity of someone who suffered non-life threatening injuries in McKendy’s home would not be released.

“I realize that the public would like to know, and we would almost like to advertise what happened, but we have to be concerned about the family,” he said.

“We have two families here – the suspect’s family and the family of Mr. McKendy. Is it going to help anyone at the end of the day if this evidence comes out? No, it’s not going to do anything for anyone.”

The Globe and Mail reported on Saturday that Baker was married to McKendy’s daughter and that she was the person found injured in the house when police arrived there early Friday morning.

The RCMP say foul play has been ruled out in Baker’s death.

Police say Baker – whose body was found in a rental car – had no fixed address, but had family in South Carolina.

Tremblay said he could not confirm the relationship between the two dead men or the person found injured in the home.

“I can tell you they were all known to each other, but don’t forget there is still a victim in the hospital, and to protect this person we have decided not to confirm anything,” said Tremblay.

“Nothing has been hidden from the families on both sides … they are very well aware of what’s going on, and they are very satisfied with the actions taken so far by the RCMP.”

He said investigators are collecting final details, but the case is closed.

McKendy, a Quaker, began teaching at St. Thomas in 1974 and was one of the university’s longest serving professors. His research focused on social inequality and the sociology of religion and work.

He was also known for the anger management counselling he did in prisons.

McKendy had been scheduled to drive students on Friday night as part of the university’s annual trick-or-eat campaign that collects food for the less fortunate on Halloween

Friends who taught with him at the university said he was a gentle man.

“He never said a harsh word about anyone ever,” Dawne Clarke, who teaches criminology at St. Thomas, said on Saturday.

Her husband Stephen Pidwysocky, also a St. Thomas professor, said McKendy was an example to others.

“We always talk about what a kind person or a nice person should be like. He was that, he was just a very nice, kind person,” he said.

“John was a person who opposed all forms of violence.”

Neighbours on the rural street where McKendy lived said the professor was quiet and those who lived in his home kept to themselves.

Brent Dore, 41, has lived across the street from McKendy for 15 years and described him on Friday as “very polite and very well-spoken.”

“He just seemed very down to earth, just a nice guy. Very quiet. … A very nice man.

A silent vigil at the St. Thomas Chapel has continued since Friday. People have been asked to sit in silence in the chapel and light a candle for McKendy.

Rev. Monte Peters scheduled a talking circle Monday to give people a chance to share their thoughts and memories, and to grieve the professor’s death.

A memorial service is scheduled for St. Dunstan’s Cathedral in Fredericton on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

– The Canadian Press

Photo: Canadian Press/HOJohn McKendy

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