Suspect wanted in boy's alleged confinement turns up dead in Ontario

GREENSTONE, Ont. – A ground crew searching dense woods in northern Ontario has recovered the body of a man they believe is wanted in the alleged confinement and sexual assault of a teenage boy in Nova Scotia, officers said Thursday.

Acting Sgt. Anne McCoy of the Ontario Provincial Police said the body of a man was recovered in an area around Geraldton near a 2003 Hyundai Elantra found on a logging road Wednesday evening close to Long Lac.

McCoy said the body has not been positively identified, but police believe it to be that of 31-year-old Wayne Alan Cunningham who faced charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement after a boy alleged he was held captive by two men at a home last month.

They say the cause of death is under investigation, but foul play is not suspected.

“The description and the investigation that the crime unit has done has led us to believe that it is, in fact, Wayne Alan Cunningham,” she said.

“The cause of death is completely under investigation and once we have more information, we will be sure to release it.”

The car was found about 19 kilometres off the highway in Greenstone, about 250 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont.

Cunningham’s co-accused, David James Leblanc, was arrested Sunday on a road in Greenstone after officers received a report of a man wandering with no shoes and light clothing in near-freezing temperatures.

On Wednesday, RCMP said they were working with the OPP to return Leblanc to Nova Scotia, but he was not able to travel yet for medical reasons. He faces charges of forcible confinement and sexual assault.

The RCMP in Nova Scotia launched an investigation last week after a woman reported that a boy — barefoot and chained at his wrists and ankles — showed up at her doorstep in the Lunenburg County community of Upper Chelsea, about 130 kilometres southwest of Halifax.

In documents filed last week with the provincial court in Bridgewater, N.S., RCMP Const. Timothy Cole said a 16-year-old boy told them he was sleeping on the streets of Halifax last month when he woke up in a van and was taken to a home.

Cole said two men held the boy against his will, sexually assaulted him over several days and talked about trying to sell him.

A parole board assessment of Cunningham done more than five years ago said he was troubled by emotional issues surrounding his sexuality and self-esteem.

In granting its decision to give him day parole in March 2007, the National Parole Board suggested Cunningham turn his life around by addressing his emotional issues, upgrading his educational and employment skills, and keeping his distance from negative influences.

Cunningham had been sentenced four months earlier to more than three years in prison on charges including theft, break and enter, fraud and forgery.

“Issues surrounding sexual identity in your teens is believed to have ill-effects on your self-esteem,” board member Anna Butland wrote in the decision.

“This result is believed to have led to choices in being a follower of criminally oriented peers and negatively influenced family relations.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.