DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Who Killed Theresa?: 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004

Monday, July 26, 2004

Globe's Jan Wong doubts Toronto police have right suspect in Cecilia Zhang murder News Staff

A person claiming to be the woman who was briefly detained in connection with the murder of Cecilia Zhang says she doesn't think Toronto police have the right person in custody.
Citing a translation of a statement released on a local Chinese website, The Toronto Sun reported Monday that the unidentified woman doesn't believe Min Chen murdered Cecilia Zhang.

She calls the 21-year-old, "a very kind person," and says she "would have never imagined that he would be responsible for this tragedy."

Toronto and Peel Police arrested Chen last week, charging him with first-degree murder in the death of nine-year-old Cecilia Zhang.

Zhang disappeared from her Toronto bedroom last October. Her remains were found more than five months later, in a wooded area west of the city.

Globe and Mail reporter Jan Wong says the statement is just one more reason for her to doubt the case against Chen.

"You really don't know who's posting, but I don't have any reason to believe it's not the woman at this point," Wong told CTV's Canada AM on Monday.

The website was the same one the Zhang family used to issue statements to the Chinese community during the search for their daughter.

With the police offering no explanation of Chen's possible motive for the murder, or their evidence in the case, Wong says she's left questioning how the case adds up.

"Why him, they haven't said at all. And yet they say they've interviewed 50,000 people. It doesn't really add up at this point."

"If you or I had done this, would you stick around? Would you renew your visa? Would you have moved 10 days ago into an apartment with two new roommates?"

In their announcement of his arrest, police offered few details of their case against Chen.
In the days since, the task force investigating Cecilia's murder has said it still "doesn't have a definitive motive."

In a weekend interview with The Toronto Star, Chen's mother, Wenyong Hu, accused police and the media of tainting the case against her son.

"I think it's unfair now what they are doing in Toronto, because the legal process hasn't begun," she said. "They shouldn't say my son was guilty. It's unfair what the police said."

Chen's next court appearance is slated for August 19th.

One more reason to like Jan Wong



Sunday, July 25, 2004

It's Sunday night... Is there anything better than Chappell's Show


Boy Trapped In Sofa

Ya know, I'm not even gonna' comment on this one except to say...

Haven't we all been there?


He's a loooooonnnnn-y

A Utah television station is reporting that Mark Hacking - a "person-of-interest" in the Lori Hacking disappearance - was spotted outside a motel about a half-mile from the couple's apartment early Tuesday "running around naked". He was later hospitalized and remains in a University of Utah psychiatric unit.

Ahhh, the old psycho defense - well played my friend.


Maura Murray

Well this is interesting. The father of Maura Murray has filed for, and been denied access to information concerning his daughter's missing persons investigation by the New Hampshire State police.It's horrific enough when a parent has to cope with the disappearance of a family member. But when you have to go to such lengths because you don't trust the investigative process?

That sucks.


Father Denied Access

State, Haverhill Police Won't Release Murray Information

Saturday July 24, 2004

New Hampshire State Police and Haverhill police are refusing to release information regarding a February accident involving a Massachusetts woman and her subsequent disappearance.

Maura Murray, a 22-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student, was involved in a minor one-car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H., the night of Feb. 9.

Her father, Fred, filed Freedom of Information Act requests with state police and Haverhill police to obtain information about the accident and the investigation into Maura's disappearance.

His requests were denied by both state police and Haverhill police.

Murray received a letter dated June 29 from Brian Hester, a lieutenant with the state police Special Investigation Unit.

In the letter, Hester said, "A determination has been made these files are investigative in nature, the release of requested reports, logs and data information would be a disclosure constituting an unwarranted invasion of privacy under RSA 91-A:5 IV."

"The release and disclosure at this time could interfere with an ongoing investigation," Hester continued in his letter. "See Lodge v. Knowlton, 118 NH 574 (1978). Therefore, your request at this time is denied."

Gary J. Wood, an attorney representing the Haverhill Police Department, used the same reasoning and court case to decline providing Murray with the information surrounding his daughter's accident and subsequent disappearance.

The Lodge vs. Knowlton case involved a case filed in New Hampshire Supreme Court by Bruce Lodge against Col. Harold Knowlton of the New Hampshire State Police.

Lodge had attempted to obtain an accident report regarding an accident involving a police chief while operating his cruiser.

In conclusion, the court determined the six-prong test of 5 U.S.C. 552 (b) (7) provided a good standard to effectuate the balance of interests required by RSA CH. 91-A with regard to police investigatory files.

One of the elements of the six-prong test involves invasion of privacy.

The court also suggested a new hearing be held.

Hester, when contacted Friday morning, declined to comment and referred questions to David Ruhoff of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.

Ruhoff at first said he could not make any comments in any official capacity.

He then relented when told state police said he would be the one to discuss the freedom of information act request refusal.

Ruhoff did say because it's an ongoing investigation, even the accident report cannot be released.

Wood was not available for comment.

As for Murray, he does not understand why authorities won't release any information about his daughter, if her case is not being investigated as a criminal case.

State police have continually stated they consider it a missing person's case.

So, Murray does not understand why they won't release information about her case as well as the police reports regarding her accident.

He wonders whose privacy state police and police are worried about violating.

"What's so criminal about an accident report, if it's (being classified as) a missing person's case?" Murray asked. "They are denying me information which may help me."


Police on the hunt for sex assailant

Laval police are looking for a suspect in a sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in the city's Ste. Rose district on July 1. The man emerged from some shrubs and approached the teenager as she walked along a bike path in Roi du Nord Park. Using a knife to threaten her, the man directed the victim to an isolated area, where he groped her. He then fled on foot. The assailant is described as white and between 40 and 50 years of age. He is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He had graying, dark hair and a few days' worth of stubble on his face.

Great, my brother has a teenage daughter and he lives in Ste. Rose.


Saturday, July 24, 2004


Ok, ok... I've got a little more on my mind than the latest news headlines. I'm recovering from a one-week vacation in New York, plus a hockey game I played on friday with some guys from Penn State who KICKED OUR ASS.

The Julie Bureau case has me thinking, as does the arrest of a suspect in Cecilia Zhang's death. It's so fucked up.

Look, I told you about the Quebec victims conference in Montreal in October, but there's something bigger. I've been working with a group called CAVA (Canadian Asociation for Vicitms Assistance). We are very new; we just got our non-profit status. CAVA is comprised of a who's-who of Canadian victims - think of a prominent murder-case from the last ten years and we've got them as a member. Last week we received the go ahead from Justice Canada for funding for a National Victims Conference. that's right, the JC is going to step aside and let someone else run a conference for victims and bankroll it.


The conference is set for the first week of December, 2004 in Vancouver - a long way for many people to travel, but we'll make it work. Right now my priority is ensuring that Quebec has a seat at the table. If anyone would like further information on CAVA and the conference, please email me.

Roll on.


Bite Me

Dog biscuits shaped like postmen banned in Canada

Postmen-shaped dog biscuits... why didn't I think of that? Why do all the brilliant ideas come from those pesky Canadians?


Big Mouth Strikes Again

Chief's words in Zhang case a problem, lawyers say

High-profile press conferences tied to arrests called a growing concern

Saturday, July 24, 2004

A senior policeman's intemperate remarks at a press conference announcing the arrest of a suspect in the slaying of Cecilia Zhang are a prime example of a growing problem, a veteran defence lawyer said yesterday.

High-profile press conferences at the time of an arrest, at which police officers profess their belief that the crime has been solved and the perpetrator found, are undermining the fabric of the justice system, Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan said in an interview.

But Peel Region Police Chief Noel Catney, who on Thursday held a picture of Min Chen, the man accused in Cecilia's death, and described him as a child murderer, did not back down in the face of a several lawyers' comments expressing alarm about the damage his actions might have on Mr. Chen's right to a fair trial.

"I stand by the comments I made at the press conference," the chief said in a statement.

"Historically every five, 10 or 15 years, we are presented by a case that is both unique and unusual, such as this one. I believe that when we are confronted with these investigations, which have an immense impact upon our community, we must be more candid. This case qualifies in that regard."

The chief's statement added he believes he was expressing the sentiment of the majority of the community and of the Zhang family.

The statement addressed the issue of the potential impact on a trial only indirectly. "As chief of police, I am deeply committed to the judicial process, and it would never be my intent to adversely affect anyone's right to a fair trial or hearing," it said.

But defence lawyers said the chief's remarks could make it difficult to empanel an impartial jury to hear the Chen case.

Defence lawyer Todd White said Chief Catney "is a reputable, powerful, influential person whose opinion can seep into a potential juror's mind," and that for a police chief to get involved in a trial by press conference "totally violates the presumption of innocence."

Mr. White added that "the most offensive thing that I found was that he and his fellow police officers were totally close-lipped about what the evidence was. That's something they sometimes can rightfully comment on. But they mentioned nothing about the evidence.. . . We're just going to say this particular person is guilty."

Mr. Greenspan, a past president of both the Criminal Lawyers Association and the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, said that, for the public, the natural inference from the statement is that the police have the perpetrator. "Therefore, the trial almost becomes an irrelevancy in terms of the public perception of what has occurred."

He added that "we all have functions within the system, and these press conferences staged by the police demonstrably involve them in parts of the system to which they really have no entitlement to participate."

And the problem with press conferences has been getting worse, he said. "I think it has increased enormously. I think the police in particular were far more circumspect a decade ago."

David Paciocco, a criminal-law professor at the University of Ottawa, said that "from the perspective of a former prosecutor, you would prefer that police not make statements like this."

While there could be defence motions to change venue or challenge jurors, they would have only a small technical impact on a trial. Such statements by a senior police officer could have a major practical impact on the prosecution of the case, he said.

"If you [a defence lawyer] are cross-examining witnesses and you ask them if they have heard the comment, you're letting out the possibility that it has influenced them in some way, that it has hardened their evidence, that it may cause any doubts they might have had to dissipate. It's dangerous."

When are police going to learn to shut-up. So much for this case being tried in Toronto. Maybe they can move the trial to Sudbury - I'm sure the Zhang's will love the four hour commute every day.


Friday, July 23, 2004

Psst! It's Julie Bureau!

The girl, who can't be named by order of the Youth Protection Service in Quebec...

Oh please! As if we don't know who you're talking about.

Found Quebec girl reunites with family

MONTREAL - A teenage girl who had been missing until last weekend reunited with her parents and younger brother for the first time in three years on Thursday.

The 17-year-old girl who was found on Sunday, spent six hours with her family in the presence of her lawyer.

The girl, who can't be named by order of the Youth Protection Service in Quebec, will remain in the service's care until a hearing is held to appoint a legal guardian.

The girl's father said the reunion was emotional.

She was spotted Sunday at a flea market in a town about an hour's drive from her home. She had been living with a 38-year-old man since shortly after running away in September 2001.

The man said he thought the girl was older than 14 when he met her, and said they had not been romantically involved.

The girl didn't resist police when they approached her, but waited for four days before initiating the family reunion.

Most missing children are runaways, but few go so long without contacting friends or family.

Ya' know, I'm gonna' engage in a little idle gossip here. It just so happens that the Surete du Quebec investigator in charge of the Bureau investigation is also the lead investigator in my sister's case. So, just last month we were talking about the Bureau case. Said Investigator told me that the Bureau family was holding out hope that after Julie's 18th birthday she would reveal herself and return to the community. Sounds like the family had an inkling all along that her disappearance had less to do with an abduction, and was more in line with a family conflict.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

I'm back from vacation, people...

Two weeks at the beach and in NYC; I'm feeling fit and tanned. I feel the love, good people, I feel the love.


Monday, July 19, 2004

Incredible and Disturbing

Teen found three years after disappearance

Challenge ahead for teen re-united with family

MONTREAL - Canada's Missing Children's Network says it's a great relief that Julie Bureau has been found safe and sound.The return of the child could just be the beginning of a lot of work for the Bureau family—Missing Children's Network

The teenager disappeared three years ago while away at boarding school. There had been no trace of her until police found her on the weekend.

When Julie Bureau disappeared in September of 2001, nobody thought that she'd be away for so long.

The teen was away at boarding school in the town of Coaticook. She was last seen going for dinner with some friends at a McDonalds restaurant.

She was spotted this weekend in the town of Beauceville, Que.

Kathy Asimakopoulos of the Missing Children's Network says most runaways just do not stay away this long.

"A lot of times they'll call home, they'll check in. If they don't call the parents they'll check in with their friends. It was different because she had not had that contact with her family," Asimakopoulos says.

Pina Arcamone, the director-general of the Missing Children's Network says 86 percent of runaways between 12 and 17 will come home after the first week.

Arcamone says they usually realize that their problems at home are not that bad once they've spent some time on the street.

In a case as peculiar as Bureau's, it may take some time for the family to re-acquaint, Arcamone suspects.

"Sometimes the entire family needs to be referred for counselling so that they can learn to get re-acquainted, and this is the challenge now awaiting Julie's family as well," Arcamone says.

She says there are five teens in Quebec who have been missing for two and a half years. Arcamone says Julie's return is giving hope to these parents and others whose children are missing.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I'll sleep when I'm dead

Off to NYC, sporadic posts for the next week or so.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Maura Murray

Officers Search Again For Clues In Student's Disappearance

July 13, 2004

HAVERHILL, N.H. -- State police and Fish and Game officers are searching again for more clues in the disappearance of a 22-year-old student.

Haverhill Police Chief Jeff Williams said at least 50 officers will return to the town Tuesday morning to search around Route 112, the last place witnesses saw Maura Murray.

Williams said the officers will scour the area in hopes of picking up evidence that was missed before. Officers have already conducted multiple searches for the University of Massachusetts student, who disappeared after a car accident in February.

Fish and Game officers? How about getting these bumpkins under the authority of one good F.B.I. agent.


Missing girl's mom lashes out at cops

"It's not constructive to try and have this contact and communication through the media."

It's too early for me to form an opinion of the Tamra Keepness investigation. Lorena Keepness' frustration aside, you just hope the police are following up leads in some systematic fashion, but... I have my doubts.

AND in my experience, it's always constructive to talk to the media - left to their own devices, the police will run ramshot over you.


Tue, July 13, 2004

Frustration mounts, search goes on

REGINA -- A smaller, more weary group of searchers renewed their hunt for five-year-old Tamra Keepness yesterday, while the girl's mother bitterly voiced her frustration with the pace of the week-old police investigation. Lorena Keepness fears her daughter was kidnapped and thinks Regina police are not following up on the information that the family has given to investigators.


"I believe somebody took her -- someone has her somewhere," Keepness said through a broken-out window of a sun room at the family's ramshackle home in east-central Regina.

"They are telling me they are checking every lead possible, but I've told them a few things that I feel that they haven't really fully looked into. There was someone that I suggested they speak to that they haven't found yet and I saw that person earlier today.

"They should be checking people out more."

Police continue to treat the situation as a missing person's case and abduction has not been ruled out, but there is no doubt in Keepness's mind about what happened to her daughter.

"Somebody knows something. She's there," Keepness said. "She's there somewhere, and I pray to Jesus and God to bring her home and I believe he will."

"Hang on, baby. We'll find you. You'll be home."

Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said she appreciates Keepness's frustration but renewed the assertion that officers are doing everything they can.

"We will not stop looking until we find Tamra Keepness," Popowich said.

"It's not constructive to try and have this contact and communication through the media."

Yesterday marked a week since Tamra was last seen.

Ground searches resumed in the afternoon after they were halted early Sunday evening to give the teams some "much-needed rest."

Thirteen volunteer searchers and eight uniformed police officers were on the ground going through the numerous alleyways and garbage cans in a 12-block radius of the downtown.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Hey, I'm getting ready to take a little vacation so expect sporadic posts over the next few weeks.

But I did want to give you some info on an upcoming conference that looks important:

Quebec's Association quebecoise Plaidoyer-Victimes is hosting their fourth conference for victims entitled, Les Victimes D'Actes Criminels: Agir Dans Le Respect De La Personne. Since I'm always knocking Quebec for screwing things up, I figure I better give them some credit when they attempt to do something right.

The conference is scheduled for October 27th and 28th 2004, and will be hosted at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Montreal. This gives everyone plenty of time to make plans to attend (good foresight Plaidoyer!). Registration materials are available through the following:

Now I wouldn't be making all nice-nice with the folks at Plaidoyer-Victimes unless I had some agenda. The fact is, they have graciously invited me to attend and participate in a round-table discussion on victims issues (details to follow). Pierre Boisvenu will also be a participant in that session.

It would be nice if a lot of Quebec victims showed up at this conference. I'd love to meet you and hear your stories.


Saturday, July 10, 2004

Hello? FBI? Three women have disappeared in a 100 mile radius... Can we get some help up here in New England?

Ligia Rae Collins - Woman Missing Since July 5th

Maura Murray - "there is no evidence to link two women in New Hampshire and Vermont."

Brianna Maitland- "This is pretty sloppy. For them to have told me they were treating this as a criminal investigation is a bunch of shit."

You know, in the case of Maura Murray, the Police - under the direction of State police commander Lt. John Scarinza - have called Maura everything except the sad victim she most certainly is. Maura was "depressed", she was "suicidal", she had "problems at home", she was a "runaway", she was involved in the world of "illegal drugs". Pathetic.

In a show of sad support, allow me to offer the family this comfort. 25-years ago the police blamed my sister for going awol. She was "depressed", she went off to "find herself", she was a "hitchhiker", she was involved in the world of "illegal drugs", She was "pregnant and ashamed", "a runaway", a "lesbian and ashamed".

In actual fact, she turned out to be a murder victim. Her body was found five months later, less than a mile from where she lived.

Common, law enforcement, do your job and find Maura Murray.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Hey Vince Bevan!

I think I spotted your suspect in a crop circle...

Keep digging, Vince. You know the one year anniversary's coming up, that's a lot of publicity... you'll want to look real busy.


The announcement by Ottawa police of "new evidence" - 11 months after the fact - in the form of a pair of sunglasses recovered from the Ardeth Wood crime scene shows just how desperate this investigation has become.

Brrrr!!! Can you feel it? The chill wind of a case blowing cold...

Police reveal new evidence in Ardeth Wood murder

OTTAWA - Ottawa police have a pair of sunglasses they believe was left at the murder scene by Ardeth Wood's killer, investigators revealed at a news conference Tuesday, hoping to generate new information in the case.

Sunglasses police believe belonged to Ardeth Wood's murderer. The release comes 11 months after the crime, with police hoping it will help them identify a suspect in the high-profile case.

On Aug. 6, 2003, an unknown attacker killed the 27-year-old philosophy student while she was biking on a wooded path in the Green's Creek area of Ottawa.

Her body was found a few days later after a search involving large numbers of volunteers, police and military.

And despite thousands of tips, police said Tuesday that they "don't have a viable suspect" nearly a year later.

In the hopes of stirring up new leads, Ardeth Wood's mother, Catherine, also made a appeal to the conscience of anyone who thinks they might know who killed her daughter.

"We believe that someone in Ottawa knows who committed this insupportable, this unconscionable crime," she said, adding that she believes her daughter's murderer will kill again if he's not caught.

Composite sketch released by police last AugustAs well, police asked for the man who phoned in a specific tip two days before the discovery of Ardeth Wood's body to contact them again.

But if moral suasion isn't enough, the police also added a $50,000 reward, one of the biggest in the city's history.

Staff Sgt. Randy Wisker says that someone in Ottawa at least has suspicions that he or she isn't sharing with police.

"A person cannot live in an urban area without anybody knowning about it," he said. "Now somebody may be holding back for whatever reason, whether it's personal, or some other connection, that's who we're appealing to."

The suspect in Wood's murder is described as a man in his 20s or early 30s, with a tattoo of a bird on his upper left arm.


Black Days

Yes, I've been quiet. What's there to write about? This is all too depressing. A round-up of all that is crappy of late:

- "Incurable psychopath" Martin Ferrier was back in jail last night having found no room at the inn. Oh great, corrections says his fulfilled his debt to society and put this aspiring serial killer back on the street. Now he's our problem again. Does this make any sense to anyone?

- I was so busy on Monday nursing a 4th of July hangover that I missed the one year countdown to Karla's release party. Defying logic, taste and any sense of justice, Corrections Canada is set to spring Homolka on July 5th, 2005 - the birthday of her second victim, Leslie Mahaffy.

- Ontario's sex-offender registry was shot down by Justice Gary Hearn... There goes any hope of a national sex-offender registry.

- Dar Heatherington eats up valuable time and resources that could be dedicated to legitimate victims.

- Get ready for the Robert Pickton multi-million dollar civil suit. That's right, Pickton is suing the police to the tune of millions of dollars for destroying his property. You heard it here first.

- Get ready for Picton to walk... In a matter of botched evidence handling, just because police found victims' DNA at the Picton farm, doesn't mean victims were killed there.


Monday, July 05, 2004

Maura Murray Disappearance

"If he goes with the suicide theory, that means nothing happened on his turf and during his watch," Murray said. "However, when you have a bad guy (involved), it's in (Scarinza's) back yard and he can't solve it."

All too familiar and really quite pathetic...

Maura Murray Family, Friends Say State Police Lied

Saturday July 3, 2004

Family and friends of a missing 22-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student say New Hampshire State Police are misinforming the public.

"You don't try to provide spin unless you are trying to cover something up," said Sharon Rausch, mother of Maura Murray's boyfriend, Billy Rausch of Fort Sill, Okla.

Murray has not been seen since she was involved in a minor one-car accident Feb. 9 on dark, and curvy Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H.

"They are a bunch of liars," Rausch said. "I am at the point the only people I am worried about offending are Billy and Fred."

Fred is Fred Murray, Maura's father.

Murray and Rausch are upset about comments made this week by New Hampshire State Police Troop F commander Lt. John Scarinza.

Scarinza pointed to a book by Nicholas Howe, "Not Without Peril," as a possible source of why Maura disappeared. The book was among items found in her car.

In the book, there are stories about tragedies and rescues in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, areas in which Maura and her father had hiked.

Scarinza has said Murray told police his daughter was suicidal.

However, the first mention of Maura being suicidal was in a press release issued by Haverhill Police Chief Jeff Williams two days after Maura's car accident and disappearance.

Murray says he never told police his daughter was suicidal.

"I want to set the record straight," he said. "Scarinza is using (Howe's book) to reinforce his suicide theory. It's nothing like that.

"Maura liked the book," he said. "She was making her way through it. The reason she liked the book was because she likes several different areas in the White Mountains. There are all kinds of landmarks. That's all it was."

Although he is upset about Scarinza's comments, Murray isn't surprised.

"If he goes with the suicide theory, that means nothing happened on his turf and during his watch," Murray said. "However, when you have a bad guy (involved), it's in (Scarinza's) back yard and he can't solve it."

"He's pushing it hard," he continued. "He's to the point he's making things up."

Rausch, equally upset with Scarinza's comments, says, "It's pretty pathetic that 41/2 months later, the state police want to secure the evidence."

She says it's comparable to the state police not searching for Maura until 36 hours after she disappeared.

"They never did a forensics study," Rausch said. "And Lt. Scarinza is providing a lot of misinformation to the public - including that she ran away to a new life; she froze to death; she committed suicide."

"When I lay awake at night," she continued, "I wonder how well Lt. Scarinza is sleeping."

And Rausch is adamant when she says she never told Scarinza about "Not Without Peril."

"That angers me because this is just another thing that is a lie," she said. "Why didn't he ask me what that meant?"

Rausch was referring to Maura saying the book was her favorite.

"She told me (the White Mountains are) a favorite place she likes to go," she said, adding Maura told her, ÔAnd most of all it's my favorite place on earth.'"

Scarinza could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Honourable Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

July 1, 2004

Dear Minister Cotler:

I am writing to you to seek clarification on the issue of the retention of evidence in criminal cases in Canada. Specifically, I would like to know what the laws, policies, or procedures are for safely retaining physical evidence in Canada at the Federal, Provincial, regional and municipal level. Are these standards (if they even exist) set by individual police units, or are they mandated by law at a higher authority?

This is an issue that is very personal to me. Allow me to share a story. Recently I was speaking with an investigator with the Surete du Quebec. This investigator is currently in charge of the investigation into the murder of my sister, Theresa Allore; a case that has long gone cold, her death occurred over 25-years ago. The investigator is a very good man, and he was relating to me what a shame it was that physical evidence from my sister’s case had been discarded less than five years after she died. Without that evidence, it was making it very difficult for the Surete to build a case against the individual we both believe was the offender in this crime. Again, this investigator related to me that the disposal of evidence was unfortunate, but we must move on and not dwell on that. We must find another approach, no matter how difficult, to catch the offender.

Minister Cotler, I agree with this investigator. I am not going to dwell on past mistakes. However, I would find it easier to move on if I had some assurance that such an unfortunate oversight could not possibly happen again. Unfortunately, in the past two years I have looked into the matter of evidence retention and nothing gives me confidence that there are today uniform procedures for keeping evidence.

On two occasions I have contacted the R.C.M.P. and asked them what their policy was. On both occasions the R.C.M.P. chose to ignore my request; they never returned my emails or phone calls. I have put the question to officers at the Surete du Quebec – good officers; they assured me that they would never dispose of evidence, but when pressed to come up with some documentation they were unable to do so. A matter as important as evidence retention should not be left to the quality of the individual; yes, they might be good officers, but the public has no assurance that the next person in charge of the file will be equally dedicated. These cold cases have a way of outlasting administrative staff, it is great to have police officers with character, but have their actions backed up with policy – as the old Russian proverb goes, Trust, But Verify.

This has not been the extent of my research. I have put the question of evidence retention to Vancouver’s Police Victim Services, Ontario’s Office for Victims of Crime, Manitoba’s Organization of Victim Advocates, the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime; no one has a clear idea what the laws, policies, procedures, rules are for properly keeping evidence in Canada. In the U.S. it seems that not a day passes that a cold case is solved because of a piece of evidence that was kept around for 30 to 40 years. Contrast this with the experience last year in Montreal where the urban police force threw away thousands of pieces of cold case evidence because the Montreal City Council claimed they didn’t have the storage space necessary to retain it.

So now I come to you Minister Colter. I call upon you to use your powers as both Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General to tell me in plain language; what are the laws, policies, or procedures for safely retaining physical evidence in Canada at the Federal, Provincial, regional and municipal level? Let me forewarn you; I will not appreciate it if I receive a list of names from you with instructions to hunt down this information for myself at all the various government levels. I consider that research your job, and the responsibility of your office. If I am stalled by such a maneuver, I will be forced to conclude that Canada’s Minister of Justice doesn’t know the laws, policies, and procedures governing evidence retention – a conclusion I am prepared to voice quite publicly. It may not be within your job description to keep track of such information, but I am asking you to help me and all victims to clarify these matters.

Thank you for the time and attention I know you will dedicate to this important issue.

I await your reply.


John Allore