There seemed nothing odd about the two men who wanted to rent Mark Kenney’s clapboard house in the quiet rural community of Upper Chelsea in Nova Scotia.
Mr. Kenney met with David James Leblanc and Wayne Alan Cunningham twice in August as they ironed out a rent-to-own deal for the home Mr. Kenney had lived in for a dozen years. The pair appeared to be a couple and moved in that month. The transfer of ownership was supposed to happen shortly.
“[They] seemed normal enough to me,” Mr. Kenney said. “Nothing stood out or I probably would have walked away from the deal.”
Mr. Kenney’s renters are now the subject of an intense police manhunt after a teenage boy fled the house on Monday night, half-naked with chains around his wrists and ankles. The 16-year-old appeared terrified when he knocked on Alice Arnold’s door around 7:20 p.m. wearing only a hooded sweatshirt.
“There were two loops of chains … and the ones on his ankles, I thought there was a padlock on them, which seemed weird to me,” Ms. Arnold, 78, said on Wednesday. “It’s horrifying to think about.”
She offered to call the police, which scared the boy.
“He said, ‘Don’t call the police. It will make it worse for me,’ and he ran off,” she said. The boy headed straight to a nearby house.
The RCMP said the teen was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. They are asking for the public’s help in finding Mr. Leblanc, 47, and 31-year-old Mr. Cunningham, who have been charged with forcible confinement and sexual assault. The Mounties believe the pair could be in Lunenburg or Halifax counties.
Upper Chelsea is a small community about 130 kilometres southwest of Halifax made up of farms and acreages, Mr. Kenney said. The house Mr. Leblanc and Mr. Cunningham were renting was on a large, private lot on Faulkner Road.
“It’s a quiet neighbourhood,” Mr. Kenney said. “I am shocked. I feel sorry for my former neighbours.”