Six Nations family pushes Niagara police for answers in man’s death

The family of Johnny Cronkwright says they’re not happy with how police investigated his death.

Cronkwright, 32 was last seen on Feb. 29 in St. Catherine’s, Ont., about 100 km west of Six Nations.

“I don’t know the next steps, but what I do know is somebody needs to be held accountable for what happened to my brother,” said Ashley Cronkwright, Johnny’s sister.

Cronkwright, filed a missing persons report with the Niagara police on March 2. It took a few days for officers to respond to take a statement and by then the family already had people out doing a search.

On March 9, Ashley asked police to search a particular house in St. Catherines. He had now been missing for nine days.

“Johnny used to go to this house because our cousin lived in this house,” she said.

Police told the family that several people lived in the house but Johnny wasn’t there. The family decided to go and search the house themselves.

“As soon as the door opened you could smell the decomposure of his body,” Ashley said.

They found Johnny’s body upstairs in a pile of garbage.

“I just started screaming called 911 called 911,” she said.

Police didn’t explain how they’d missed the smell – or Johnny’s body in the house.

APTN contacted the Niagara police about the investigation including whether an autopsy report had been filed.

According to a statement dated April 7, “Foul play is not suspected in Jonathan’s death. Detectives do believe additional persons may have information in relation to the events leading up to and following Jonathan’s death.”

The release, two people were charged with indignity to a dead body police said.

“One was our cousin and one was a childhood friend, and like her boyfriend, so Samantha Amber and her boyfriend Mikey Patterson,” Ashley said.

Sean Vanderklis is president of the Niagara Regional Native Centre and has been advocating for the family.

“My biggest cause for concern right now is the police are operating under the assumption that there has been no foul play, that this may have been an overdose,” said Vanderklis, “which is very problematic because the coroner’s report’s not there and it hasn’t been released and for them to just assume this is the case is very telling their opinion of Indigenous people.”

Ashley said a lot of things point to systemic racism.

“I think the fact that my brother had a past record and involvement with the police, I think that affected a search for him,” she said, “and I think the fact that he is indigenous of affected the search for him.”

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