On the Saturday morning when Nathan Dumas died, I noticed some strange activity on Facebook. His mother, Whitney, was talking to friends saying something about her van being stolen and "Justice for Nathan."
I also saw postings about a bank incident in my hometown of St. Catharines where Whitney resides, and the stabbing of a bank employee.
Something was not right.
I got in touch with Whitney through the Simpson clan and asked what happened. When I discovered that Nathan had been murdered, I asked if I could post something, particularly in hopes of finding Justin Kuijer, the man who would later be charged in relation to both incidents.
Whitney is a fine and brave person. She agreed to my post and I put it up Saturday afternoon. By the time I went to bed, it had received more than 100,000 shares. Since then that number has doubled.
Today, the Niagara Regional Police, in a news conference, mentioned that Justin might never have been found without the help of the public via social media. He said the information had been shared on various platforms more than 600,000 times.
I'm not writing this to give myself any credit. The credit for my part in this must go to Whitney because she was brave enough to share during the difficult hours after her son passed, and to the Simpson family whose drum beats louder and harder than anybody I know.
Mostly, I think we should thank Ashley Simpson.
I've been writing about her case since she disappeared last April. Every time I share it, I get thousands of hits. And because of Ashley, I've managed to develop a network across the country and in the U.S. of kind and caring people who want to give Ashley her own form of justice.
Because of Ashley, the message got out, and it went viral.
Collectively, we were able to take out the trash.
Her story continues to be told over and over again. Rebecca and Mike Duke have featured her story numerous times during their weekly true crime podcast from Idaho. And I recently met Shane Michaels at Silent Searchers a dedicated group of researchers who look for missing persons in Canada.
My posts have also attracted the attention of media where I've been able to share Ashley's story. This week, I received numerous calls about Nathan's case by frantic journos looking to fill in the blanks. I have respected Whitney's privacy, and I am only writing about this now. But every time I talk to them, I mention Ashley. She is tie that binds.
I also have something else to say. Maybe it's weird. Just a theory.
The vehicle Justin was driving belonged to Whitney, whom many of you know is Ashley's best friend. On the back of the vehicle was this logo.
I can't help but believe that Ash was looking after little Nathan.
Little did Justin know that while he was cowardly planning his escape, he'd taken Ashley along for the ride.