Aleka Esa-Bella Scheyk Gonzales. (CP)

Agassiz man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

A 51-year-old man is facing charges in connection to the snake venom death of a North Vancouver toddler.

RCMP said Henry Thomas, of Seabird Island, Agassiz, was taking care of a two-year-old girl on May 18, 2014.

When Thomas returned the toddler to her mother’s home in North Vancouver and at 5 a.m. the next day, the girl’s mother told police her daughter had died.

RCMP searched his Agassiz home in July 2015 and found snakes and “related equipment.”

Through further DNA testing, investigators confirmed that the toddler died as a result of snake venom.

Thomas was arrested without incident on Friday at home and charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Venessa Gonzales said she’ll remember her daughter, Aleka Esa-Bella Scheyk Gonzales, as happy and bubbly.

“I called her my little blackbird, because that’s what Aleka means,” Gonzales said.

She had to put all the photos of her daughter away because of the pain they cause her, she said, adding she wasn’t prepared for the attention that the announcement of charges has generated.

Gonzales said Thomas was a friend, but she refused to say more about him. She said it has taken a long time for police to lay charges.

“Nothing was happening and (police) told me two years ago that they closed the file and that no charges would be laid.”

Instead, she said police came to her home recently to tell her he was being charged.

“It’s been a really four and a half, almost five years now.”

”This is a very tragic incident that resulted in a complex, unique investigation by police and support agencies,” said Supt. Chris Kennedy. “Our condolences are extended to the family and community of the deceased child.

– with files from The Canadian Press


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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