CALGARY -- The killer, if cops in Saskatchewan are right, will never be charged.
The suspect blamed for murdering six-year-old Lee Allan Bonneau is safe from criminal prosecution, being just a child himself -- and though the kid in custody is apparently a troubled boy well-known to RCMP on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, there's no way for police to charge him under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"I will confirm that the person responsible for Lee Bonneau's death is under the age of 12. Any further comment on this tragedy will have to await our media availability," an RCMP spokesman told reporters Saturday.
That press conference is slated to take place on Tuesday -- until then, those closely impacted by the brutal death can only speculate about the fate of a kid who may be Canada's youngest-ever killer.
"It's just so sad, and if the rumours are true, and someone that young is responsible, then nothing will happen -- there's nothing they can do," said Mary Jo Herman, who drove the bus Bonneau rode to school each day while living in Odessa, Sask., a small village about 60 km southeast of Regina.
Bonneau was found on Aug. 21, his head bashed in, shortly after his frantic foster mother reported the boy missing.
He'd only been living on the reserve and with his new foster parents for a few weeks, having suddenly been removed from Odessa, where he lived with his mom.
That night, the boy and his guardian had gone to the Kahkewistahaw sports complex for bingo night, and the foster mom had given Bonneau some money to buy a treat.
But the animal-loving boy, who would have started Grade 2 this week, stopped to play with a dog just outside the hall.
His caregiver watched him play, then took her eyes off Bonneau for a few moments.
Those few moments later, he was gone.
"It's just so very, very sad -- I'd known him since he was in kindergarten and he was just a cute little boy, lots of friends," said Herman, who went to Bonneau's funeral on Friday.
Just hours after the funeral, police confirmed a child suspect had been taken into custody by social services.
The underage murder suspect had allegedly killed Bonneau, leaving him for dead near some woods a short distance away.
The panicked foster mom had asked others in the bingo hall to help look for Bonneau: One of those searchers was Bobbi Alexson, who ended up being among the first to find the dying child.
"We dropped what we were doing at the bingo hall, and assisted. Door to door, road to road, building to building. Unfortunately, we were too late to find that poor boy and bring him back safely," wrote Alexson, on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation Facebook page.
Alexson has since started a petition seeking to establish a community patrol and curfew to improve safety on the reserve, a suggestion the band is taking seriously.
He's been praised for his candid assessment of social strife on the reserve, which he calls "a terrible home" for kids and adults alike.
"The kids do bad because they have no one to guide them, show them from right and wrong," wrote Alexson, days before the arrest.
"The kids I see are rude, hateful and terrible."
Alexson wouldn't elaborate when contacted by QMI Agency, saying he would await Tuesday's press conference.
While children under the age of 12 can't be criminally charged in Canada, those who commit serious offences can be forced into treatment by social services, including psychological counselling.
Whatever happens, Alexson said his petition is still valid, and he wants to see change for his family and others who live there.
"It's about safety for everyone on the reserve -- it's the same thing over and over again," said Alexson.
"It has to change."