Toronto Star

Sep. 30, 08:34 EDT

Man kills self, daughter in garage

Wife told him she wanted a divorce, police say

Cal Millar
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star

TRAGIC SCENE: Police remove a van, in which Aaron Dookie, 34, and his 5-year-old daughter Laurissa were discovered dead yesterday, from a garage on Wagner Dr. in Scarborough.
A Scarborough man, described as despondent over his failing six-year marriage, killed his young daughter and took his own life in the family garage, police say.

The bodies of Aaron Dookie, 34, and his 5-year-old daughter Laurissa were discovered yesterday in a van parked at their well-kept, two-storey home on Wagner Dr. in the Lawrence and Morningside Aves. area of Scarborough. Police believe the pair died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Detective Sergeant Mario DiTommaso said Dookie's 37-year-old wife, who is not being named by police, found the bodies after arriving home shortly after midnight.

"I believe the trigger for this tragic event was Mrs. Dookie's intention to end the relationship," DiTommaso said.

Dookie left a suicide note inside the house, which gave instructions that their bodies were to be cremated and the ashes scattered in a specific location.

"My impression is that he loved his daughter immensely and he wanted to take his daughter with him," DiTommaso said. He said the wording of the note showed Dookie was quite despondent.

A carbon monoxide alarm in the home was sounding when the man's wife arrived home.

She searched the house and found her husband's wallet and the note he had left before running to the garage.

Tom Strizic, a neighbour, said he and his wife were heading to bed when the doorbell rang.

"When I answered the door she (the woman across the street) was very hysterical and was crying that her husband had killed himself and their daughter," Strizic said.

"I grabbed the phone and called 911 while running across the street," he said.

Strizic said the woman ran into the garage and pulled her daughter from the passenger side of the van.

"I took the daughter from her and put her on the ground," he said. "I told 911 I was going to start CPR."

"There was really nothing I could do," he said.

"My main concern was to see if I could get the girl breathing ... or help bring the child back, but even when I took the child from her, she was too stiff. I went through the motions and sort of hoped that something was going to happen."

He said the family moved into the house two years ago and there was no indication the father would do something like this.

"He idolized his daughter," he said.

"She was a pleasant young girl," Stizic said of Laurissa, who would have turned 6 next month. "This is so tragic."

Stizic said the couple appeared to be getting along.

"I didn't know them that well, but there was never any trouble at the house," he said.

But the man's wife told police they had not been getting along but were staying together because of their daughter. She told him a few days ago she was going to leave, police said.

`I don't know what could have pushed him over the edge this way.'
Dookie, who came to Canada from Guyana, and his wife, a native of St. Vincent who works as an executive assistant, met in 1994 and were married six years ago.

Dookie's wife has a 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, but the girl was not at home at the time of the slaying.

DiTommaso said Dookie didn't have a history of despondency and there's no indication police were ever called to the house in the past.

An autopsy indicated a cause of death for Dookie consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.

"A definitive cause will not be available until laboratory tests are completed within a few days," DiTommaso said.

An autopsy was to be performed today to determine how Dookie's daughter died, but police suggest she, too, was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.

"The initial investigations indicate the person responsible for the murder of the 5-year-old girl took his own life at the same time," DiTommaso told a news conference yesterday.

Police are trying to track down the last people to see Dookie to determine when he took the girl into the garage and how long they had been dead.

Investigation showed the vehicle had run out of gas before the bodies were discovered.

Neighbour Gil Venne said the incident has left people on the quiet residential street in shock.

"They had been living there two years," he said. "Everything seemed to be okay. We'd see him out there with the little girl on her bicycle. They would sometimes go around the block."

"That poor little girl," he said. "It's too bad ... she was so innocent."

Another neighbour, Norm Strachan, said Laurissa played with his daughters.

"They would bicycle up and down the street," he said.

Strachan said Dookie had spent the summer extending the deck in his backyard.

"He was quiet and reserved, but he did say hello if he saw you on the street," he said. "This is a very surprising situation. I never saw any sign of trouble over there."

Korsel Brown, who lives with his girlfriend two doors away, said he can't believe what happened.

"I'm really, really shocked," he said. "I spoke to him a few days ago. He took me to his house and showed me the patio. Everything seemed okay."

Brown said he was awakened around 4 a.m. and came out to see the bodies of the victims being lifted from the driveway.

"Tears came to my eyes," he said. "I knew it was a small body they were picking up."

Brown said it's a close-knit neighbourhood and his girlfriend's two daughters had regularly played with the little girl.

"It's sad to know something like this could have taken place," he said.

"I don't know what could have pushed him over the edge this way."

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