Nfld. & Labrador

Dale Porter slaying: The shock has faded, but justice yet to be served

Four months ago, the Conception Bay North region was rocked by the violent death of North River resident Dale Porter. There have not been any arrests in the case. As Terry Roberts writes, Porter's family is now speaking out.
North River resident Dale Porter is pictured here working on a fishing boat. The 39-year-old died on June 29, and his killer remains at large. (Submitted photo)

It's now been more than four months since a shocking homicide in the small, quiet Conception Bay North community of North River ignited a sense of fear and sadness in the region.

The death of 39-year-old Dale Porter left two young children without a father, another gaping hole in the life of his widowed mother, and a large circle of family and friends questioning why the man they describe as friendly, helpful and easygoing was so brutally and violently killed on his property during the early morning hours of June 29.

Police have not released details about how Porter died, but it's believed he was stabbed.

Porter had no criminal record, worked hard to earn a living as a fisherman and truck driver, and dedicated himself to his children, said Jennifer Reid, Dale's sister.

"Yes, we want to know the answers today," said Reid, "but we don't want to jeopardize anything for that.

"We understand that it takes time."

Porter's killer remains at large. No arrests have been made, no murder charges yet laid. 

"Investigations like this are complex and take us in a number of different directions," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Boyd Merrill. "We are following all of them."

Dying breaths

Porter's death came after a night of drinking and partying at a nightclub in nearby Bay Roberts.

The plan was to continue the party at Porter's house, but the revelry turned to shock when a taxi cab, the second one to arrive at the residence that morning, pulled into the driveway.

The occupants of the cab discovered Dale Porter lying in the driveway, taking his dying breaths.

Sources say Porter and three others — two males and a female — arrived in an earlier taxi.

"That is the most frustrating part. There are people that do know," Jennifer said.

For days, the crime dominated conversation as police initiated an intensive investigation, area residents speculated about the circumstances, and a family grieved their loss.

'Yes, we want to know the answers today, but we don't want to jeopardize anything for that.We understand that it takes time.'- Jennifer Reid

Many people began locking their doors, fearful that a killer was still on the loose.

The main road through the community of just 560 people was blockaded for several days as investigators scoured the crime scene.

Four days later, rumours surfaced that police had made a break in the case, and had brought a man in for questioning.

He was later released without charges.

Clubhouse search

On July 5, police carried out a dramatic raid on the clubhouse of the Vikings motorcycle club in nearby Cupids.

Officers would not confirm whether the search was related to Porter's death, but the raid further fuelled the sense of panic and uneasiness in the region.

In the days that followed, during what was one of the hottest July months on record, the case slowly slipped from the headlines, with police continuing to be tight-lipped about the matter.

The case captured the public's attention once again on Aug. 23, when police confirmed that a search of a house in the nearby community of Makinsons was connected to its homicide investigation.

Since then, however, the case has once again gone quiet.

The family marked the four-month mark of Porter's death on Oct. 29, and there's no sign they are growing impatient with the investigation.

"They're doing their work. I guess we have to leave it up to them guys," said Everett Morgan, Porter's brother-in-law.

A good person

There has been much speculation about why Porter's life came to such a violent end, and questions about whether he was involved in any illegal activity.

After weeks of staying quiet,  family members are now speaking out, proudly stating that Dale Porter was a good man who was committed to his family and wouldn't do anything to harm anyone.

"I believe 100 per cent that there is no way Dale was involved in anything," said Jennifer.

"We would have known it. We would have seen it. It just wasn't who he was, to get involved in something that would bring that onto himself and his family."

Everett Morgan added that "he was too good of a person for this to happen to. He was as good as you're going to get."

Porter worked as a fisherman, and drove a truck for a local grocery distributor during the off-season.

He was experiencing marital problems, but was deeply committed to his son and daughter.

"His main goal was to look after his family," said Everett.

Second tragedy

Porter was from the small fishing community of Port de Grave, located just east of Bay Roberts.

His death was the second tragedy suffered by the family. His father, Hayward, died suddenly at age 32.

Porter's mother, Beulah, never remarried and raised three children — two daughters and a son — on her own.

There's now another big hole in the family unit, however, and it hasn't been easy.

"This doesn't  happen to families like us. We're a quiet family. No criminal records. It's just so bizarre to even be a part of something like this," said Jennifer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Roberts is a reporter with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, and is based in St. John’s. He previously worked for The Telegram, The Compass and The Northern Pen newspapers during a career that began in 1991. He can be reached by email at: Terry.Roberts@cbc.ca.

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