The man who died suspiciously on his property in North River early Sunday morning was helpful around the neighbourhood and never caused any trouble, say area residents.
Dale Porter would often clear snow from his neighbours’ driveways before tackling his own, they say.
Porter was a fisherman and was even known to share seafood with several of his neighbours, and host a family social on New Year’s Eve.
One neighbourhood youth said whenever he needed a tool to repair his bicycle, he could count on Porter for help.
“He had his faults, like all of us, but he was a decent person,” one resident told The Compass Monday morning.
Originally from Port de Grave, Porter was in his early 40s and the father of two school-aged children — a boy and a girl — and was described as quiet and likable by his friends.
Those close to him say he was never in trouble with the law, though there had been some turmoil in his personal life in recent times.
Home in a taxi
Neighbours say their quiet neighbourhood was rattled by the sounds of emergency sirens and police vehicles speeding to Porter’s house on North River Road, near the intersection with Efford’s Lane, at about 4 a.m. Sunday.
Porter was discovered with serious injuries when responders arrived, and later died.
Police are being careful about the release of information, but sources say Porter was found by family members and friends outside his home, with a large amount of blood surrounding his body.
He was unresponsive when discovered, though a source said he was still breathing.
Sources say he came home in a taxicab from the Coach House nightclub in nearby Bay Roberts, and those in a second taxi discovered him on the ground.
A man who was at the bar that morning told The Compass he spoke with Porter shortly before he left and everything seemed normal.
He said there was no indication of any confrontation, and Porter was “joking and kidding around as usual.”
Porter was not the type to start trouble, the man said.
Porter’s death has rocked the entire Conception Bay North region, with many people wondering whether they should be bracing for more trouble.
That sense of insecurity was seemingly heightened by the fact that investigators had not immediately issued a statement about whether public safety was at risk.
A spokesman would only say that the RCMP is deploying all the resources necessary to bring the investigation to a successful conclusion.
But at about 1:30 p.m., the RCMP issued a statement, saying “there is no known threat to the general public resulting from this incident.”
The death has sparked a flurry of speculation on social media about who might be responsible for Porter’s death.
The man who spoke with Porter at the bar that morning said there were two strange men there dressed in leather, with one wearing a distinctive hat. Their attire did not mark them as members of a particular group.
He said one man was “pacing back and forth.”
“I don’t know if they had anything to do with this, but we didn’t know who they were,” said the man.
Porter was driven home in a cab operated by Birch Hills Taxi. Police have seized the vehicle, owner Andy Bishop told The Compass today, and the two employees who made stops at Porter’s house that night have left their jobs.
One of the drivers said he is traumatized by what he encountered Sunday morning. He asked not to be identified.
“As a driver, I was afraid about getting a knife in the back. I never thought I would see something like this,” he said.
Bishop said Porter was a regular customer and was always co-operative and friendly.
“He liked getting out on the go on the weekends, but he was always a quiet fellow. He was a real good fellow to deal with,” said Bishop.
Bishop said finding people willing to drive a taxi on the weekend is difficult because of the behaviour many drivers encounter. He expects this incident will not help the situation.
“With all the pills and the coke on the go, you can’t trust them,” said Bishop, who started his company two decades ago.
Bishop attributed the bad behaviour to “all the money that’s on the go,” adding “money drives everybody mad.”
Autopsy being done
RCMP Sgt. Greg Hicks told The Compass this morning an autopsy will be conducted today.
Officers and forensic investigators have been at Porter’s home on North River Road, about a kilometre from Veterans Memorial Highway, since Sunday morning. As of late this morning, the road remained closed.
There have not been any arrests, but Hicks confirmed the RCMP has been “speaking to a number of people.”
Residents have voiced frustration over the lack of details being provided.