The father of a 15-year-old boy stabbed to death in Edmonton last week says a Bon Accord youth treatment facility entrusted with his care failed to keep his son safe.
Fred Boone said that when Troy died, he was supposed to be safely inside Oak Hill Ranch, a government-funded residential treatment facility for young people about 40 kilometres north of the city.
Troy had run away from the ranch but his parents weren’t informed for several hours, his father said.
Boone said he wants answers about how his son got to Edmonton last week and why he wasn’t notified earlier about Troy leaving the ranch.
“This is not the way things are supposed to work,” Boone said. “They are the guardians of him right now. They’re supposed to be watching him and they didn’t do that.”
Oak Hill Ranch provides therapeutic care to young people, funded through Alberta’s Ministry of Children’s Services. Troy had been living there since February, his father said.
Boone said his son disappeared from the ranch last Tuesday, Sept. 1. He and his wife weren’t notified until the morning after, he said. He said they received messages assuring them the facility’s staff had the situation under control.
On Wednesday night, two police officers notified Boone that his son had died in Edmonton.
“They failed us badly. They failed him badly,” Boone said of Oak Hill staff, adding that he and his wife should have been notified within an hour that Troy had run away.
He said his son had left the ranch before to pick up food, pop or cigarettes, but would always come back.
Troy’s disappearance from the campus last week was the first time he knew of his son leaving for any longer stretch of time, Boone said. He also said he doesn’t know how his son travelled south to Edmonton.
Police still investigating
Anton Smith, executive director of Oak Hill Ranch, refused to speak on the record about the ranch and its policies.
A representative of the ranch said they couldn’t confirm or deny Troy Boone was a resident due to Children’s Services law in Alberta. But they defended the facility’s practices responding to residents running away, saying their policies are tight and there isn’t a gap in what they provide.
Oak Hill Ranch will phone the RCMP and Children’s Services when they lose sight of children who run away from their campus, the representative said.
They added that while they communicate with the child’s family, they have no specific timeline about when the family is notified about the child’s absence.
Children’s Services spokesperson Lauren Armstrong said the ministry can’t comment on the matter as it’s under police investigation.
“This death, as any death of a young person, is a tragedy. Our hearts go out to his family,” Armstrong said in an emailed statement.
Boone said he and his wife talked to their son nearly every night, and heard from Oak Hill staff that he was doing great and making progress after being sent to the facility for behavioural issues.
“He was always helpful, kind and considerate to other people. When we Facetimed and talked over the phone at night, he was excited to tell us what had happened during that day,” Boone said.
Family needs to plan funeral
Boone and his family will bring Troy’s body home to Lloydminster this week. They still still have to plan a funeral.
For now, Boone said he doesn’t want to communicate with Oak Hill Ranch, but wants the facility to change its policies so no other family has to go through what his experienced.
“Why would you wait from 6 until 9:30 in the morning to let the family know that their teenage kid, who we had trusted with their safety, is not in their safety?” Boone said.
Brady Michael Edward Almas, 21, was arrested Sept. 2 and later charged with second-degree murder. A warrant for second-degree murder was also issued for Bradley Clifford Leland, 23. Police said they don’t believe the two men knew the teen.
Boone said he believes that as well. Police are still investigating the case.