They seem like the perfect parents.
That's why manslaughter charges against Justin Kozlof and Candice Joy Riddell are incomprehensible to family and neighbours. Kozlof, 25, and Riddell, 26, are charged in connection with the death of their three-week-old son Kavan Riddell-Kozlof on Thursday. "This blew me away because he's so good with kids," said Tom, Kozlof's step-father, who attended the couple's brief court appearances Monday. They are scheduled for bail hearings Tuesday. "I can't see him doing it," said Tom, who didn't wish to have his last name published. "You can't make a judgment — who knows what really happened. "I don't want nobody to judge either one of them. The truth will come out." He said Kavan is the couple's second child together. They also have a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Kyra. "He was a cutie," Tom said of Kavan, who was eight pounds and nine ounces when he was born on Oct. 26. "He was a long baby — with long fingers and toes." Tom, who raised Kozlof since the time he was an infant, said he'll stand by his son throughout this ordeal. Neighbours Megan Davis and Joanne Vanovereek can't believe the couple is charged.
"I've never seen a dad like Justin," Davis said. "He was always with his kids." She said the family could often be seen going to the park and for walks. "This is hard to wrap your head around," she said. Vanovereek said everyone around the couple's Sheldon Avenue apartment complex believed the baby died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. "I would never have dreamed (they would be charged)," she said. "I don't believe that, I can't believe that." Neighbour Debra Donaldson was also shocked to hear of the charges.
"They are a really nice couple," she said. "They looked like they just totally loved each other." Her heart goes out to the family. "The hardest part is it's a parents' worst nightmare come true," she said. "I couldn't imagine what they are going through or how they're feeling — devastated." Donaldson said she heard that the parents went to check on Kavan early Thursday morning and he wasn't breathing. "The child was in distress when our officers arrived," said Insp. George Flikweert, head of the Chatham-Kent Police Service's major crime unit. "There were attempts to revive the child." He said the 911 call was made from inside the home and the baby was taken to Chatham-Kent Health Alliance where he was later pronounced dead. Police said an autopsy was conducted by a forensic pathologist in London on Thursday and Friday. The parents were arrested Saturday. The inspector said this was the first time police were called to the couple's home. Flikweert said while police know the cause of Kavan's death, it isn't being released. Information about the circumstances surrounding the death also weren't released. "Manslaughter means there's culpability in a death . . . that a person had a hand in someone else's death," he said. Flikweert said information about the charges wasn't released sooner because police wanted to canvass the area first. "We didn't want to compromise our investigation," he said. "We want people's pure recollections." The case remains under investigation.