Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu and Diane Roy honoured with Leadership Awards for 2004 efforts
Diane Roy et Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu honorés
Parce qu'ils ont su remonter la pente
Personne ne veut perdre l'usage d'un de ses membres. Encore moins perdre un membre de sa famille. Parce qu'ils ont su remonter la pente après avoir subi une éprouvante épreuve, le journal La Nouvelle, de Sherbrooke, a décerné le titre Leadership 2004 à l'athlète Diane Roy et à Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.
Si Mme Roy s'est fait connaître par ses exploits lors de compétitions en fauteuil roulant, M. Boisvenu l'a fait par la mort tragique de sa fille Julie, en juin 2002, puis par la suite dans sa lutte pour faire reconnaître les familles dont un membre a été victime d'acte criminel.
Mercredi avant-midi, lors d'une petite cérémonie pour le moins touchante, les deux personnalités ont été honorées, en présence de proches, mais aussi d'autres Sherbrookois ayant reçu les mêmes distinctions au cours des 16 dernières années.
Prenant la parole, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu a fait remarquer que justement durant cette période 1000 familles ont perdu des proches au Québec. La voix étranglée par l'émotion, après l'hommage rendu par la journaliste Geneviève Proulx, M. Boisvenu a mentionné que trois femmes avaient particulièrement marqué sa vie: sa mère, Monique Laframboise-Boisvenu, son épouse, Diane Carlos-Boisvenu, et évidemment sa fille Julie.
Who Killed Theresa?
Ce blogue est une investigation de le meurtre de ma soeur, Theresa Allore. Il y a 30 ans Theresa est mort aux secteurs de Compton, Sherbrooke et Lennoxville, Québec.
Life isn't fair, Justice is blind... and dysfunctional, and some cops aren't smart and dedicated like on tv.
Si vous avez information contact Sue Sutherland: CP 45 Succursale Lennoxville, Sherbrooke J1M 1Z3,Canada:email@example.com Tel: 514-264-7830
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu and Diane Roy honoured with Leadership Awards for 2004 efforts
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Not Hannibal Lecter, just some low-life with a porn obsession.
Prostitutes Aid Ill. Serial Killer Probe
By JAN DENNIS : Associated Press Writer
Jan 29, 2005 : 7:34 pm ET
PEORIA, Ill. -- For more than a year, Larry Bright lured prostitutes and drug addicts to the converted garage where he lived behind his mother's house, prosecutors say. There would be sex, maybe drugs. Then he would turn violent.
If the women were lucky, they got away. But in at least eight cases, authorities say, he killed the women, then dumped their bodies along rural roads or burned them to ash and bone in a backyard pit.
It was the women who escaped Bright's clutches, many of them prostitutes or others on the fringes of society, who helped lead a task force to him, authorities say.
So far, Bright has been charged with only one of the slayings, but prosecutors say he confessed to seven others and they are gathering evidence to support more charges. Peoria County State's Attorney Kevin Lyons has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
At his first court appearance this past week, the 38-year-old former concrete worker told a judge: "I just would like to plead guilty, sir." The judge told him to consult with an attorney first.
The bodies of strangled and asphyxiated prostitutes and drugs users began turning up along rural roads around Peoria four years ago -- one in 2001, another in 2003, then four last year. Despite Bright's statements, the earliest one remains unsolved.
Under pressure from Peoria's black community -- all six of those victims were black and four other black women were missing -- investigators formed a task force to find what they feared was a serial killer.
Bright had no documented history of violence, although he had spent three years in prison for burglary in the 1980s and had a few other brushes with the law, authorities say.
"He was one of those people who just wouldn't stand out," said State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz in adjoining Tazewell County, which has been included in the search for bodies.
But Lyons said Bright apparently developed an obsession with pornography involving blacks, and became a regular customer among black prostitutes in this blue-collar collar city of about 120,000 people. Bright is white.
Lyons said Bright's name came up again and again as more than 1,000 tips poured in. That led authorities to about a half-dozen prostitutes who told them about barely escaping with their lives after sex with Bright turned violent, Lyons said.
Bright's name also surfaced as police investigated the September slaying of 40-year-old Linda Kay Neal, the only case in which he was charged.
Customers at a bar where Neal was a regular identified Bright as a man she was with the night she disappeared. But he was "one of many people on the radar screen at that point," Lyons said.
"When all is said and done, it was those tips from the public and police hitting the streets that solved the case," said Tazewell County Sheriff Bob Huston.
Bright was arrested in December, when tips to the task force led to charges of drug possession and aggravated unlawful restraint alleging he held a prostitute against her will and threatened her with a gun.
Bright's DNA matched evidence found on Neal's body, said attorney Joe Borsberry, who had represented Bright on the earlier charges.
Prosecutors said Bright had denied any link to the killings until police prepared to search for remains Wednesday on his mother's property. Lyons said Bright likely wanted to spare his mother more pain.
In court this past week, Lyons told the judge that Bright had picked up Neal outside a bar on Peoria's south side, in an area frequented by prostitutes. He said they went back to his home, drank and had sex.
Then Bright strangled her, Lyons said. He drove her nude body to a remote area near Hopedale, and used a leather shoelace tied around her neck to drag her body to the edge of the Mackinaw River.
Other victims he cremated in a backyard pit, burning them for up to two days with pieces of wood, then disposed of the ash and bits of charred bone in rural areas, Lyons said.
Umholtz thinks Bright feels some remorse, illustrated by his unsuccessful effort to plead guilty.
"My impression is he also wanted to bring about some closure for the victim's families," Umholtz said.
Victims' families said Bright's confession ended long months of uncertainty.
"Everything happens for a reason; why we'll never know," said Willie Sanders, stepfather of 41-year-old Brenda Erving, whose body was found in October in rural Peoria County. "We have to deal with it the best we can."
Holy Cats, he did it!
Terminally ill man commits suicide, sparks debate
OTTAWA — A sickly Marcel Tremblay consumed two beers, two shrimp and a crab cake at what he called "a living wake" on Friday, then went home and killed himself, sparking a countrywide debate on the right-to-die issue.
The frail, 78-year-old man appeared remarkably nonchalant and upbeat as he prepared to die, saying he was fed up with suffering from a fatal lung disease and hoped that Canadians would debate the issue of assisted suicide.
"I'm 110 per cent positive of what I want to do and I'm justified in my thinking of why I want to do it," said Tremblay, his raspy voice sounding firm and confident after a goodbye party with family and friends.
"I want them to debate it, I want them to talk about it."
Tremblay said he would take his own life by pulling a helium-filled bag over his head. He said his family and friends supported his decision.
"That decision, for me, is the right decision," he said.
"I feel I'd like to die and that's what I'm going to do.
"To live the way I'm living is not living. It's existing, and there's no reason to continue it day in and day out for any longer than I've already done."
Tremblay's impromptu news conference outside his bungalow was not without its moments of black humour.
He apologized to reporters gathered outside his home for causing them to stake out the residence in sub-zero temperatures, prompting a family member to crack:
"You should have done it in July." Tremblay chuckled.
He was also unperturbed by the fact that someone had tinkered with the lock on his front door in an apparent effort to stop him from killing himself.
About 90 minutes later, emergency vehicles started arriving at the house, including three police cars police and two ambulances.
Staff.-Sgt. Monique Ackland emerged a half-hour later.
"The police have done what they could under the Mental Health Act," she said. "Mr. Tremblay was deemed to be mentally stable.
"There was nothing further that police could do unless a physician came forward to say that Mr. Tremblay was mentally ill. That did not happen.
"Tonight, he proceeded with his plan and at 23h51 he was pronounced dead by the doctor."
A woman and her husband came by minutes after Tremblay was declared dead and said that they had just come from a local Roman Catholic Church where the priest had held a prayer vigil for the man.
She said the priest had earlier refused to intervene.
Earlier in the day, Tremblay, a former rooming house owner, said he went public with his plans to kill himself because he wanted people to debate the right to die with dignity.
The stooped, bearded man sat before a phalanx of cameras at his lawyer's office to say that he was ready to die and didn't care who knew it.
He was lucky, he said, because he was still strong enough to tug the bag over his head - his method of choice - and "pull the plug."
Those who don't have that strength are left without a choice, he said, because the law bans assisted suicide.
Tremblay said he no longer found any joy or happiness in life. Even his trips to Syracuse, N.Y., to play poker, one of his favourite pastimes, were impossible.
God and religion hold neither fears nor promise to him, he added.
"We're getting older and they're keeping us alive, dammit," he growled in a low, but firm voice.
Tremblay felt that the law should be changed to allow assisted suicide, said his lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon.
"He is in a position where he can do something," Greenspon said.
"The vast majority of people who suffer terminal illnesses are not in a position where they are physically able to do what he intends to do and that's a very big part of the reason why he's decided to be very public about his intentions."
Tremblay said even groups that support death with dignity don't want to talk about suicide.
"They all say: 'Don't call the police, don't tell anybody, go in the corner and do it."'
"We're never going to get that law changed if everybody does that. I could have done that like everybody else is doing. This is going on all the time but people just don't want to talk about it."
Tremblay said he had a litany of health problems, including back trouble, stomach problems and an incurable and eventually fatal lung condition.
Greenspon, looking decidedly uncomfortable and admitting to moral and ethical qualms about Tremblay's decision, nevertheless said what he planned was perfectly legal. Ottawa police had monitored the case for two weeks.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler called it a "very tragic situation."
"This is a very, very difficult and painful question about which Canadians have different views. There is no real emergent consensus," he said.
"I cannot as the minister of justice and the attorney general instruct authorities as to what they do in these matters. These are matters that fall within the domain of the provincial administration of justice."
Tremblay said he'd discussed his decision with two psychiatrists before police heard of his plan and took him to the Ottawa Hospital, apparently for another psychiatric evaluation.
He said he spent five hours sitting at the hospital with three policemen watching him, only to have a doctor come in, ask three questions and tell him he was free to go.
At that point, Greenspon said, the police washed their hands of the case.
Since Tremblay wouldn't get any help killing himself, there would be no crime, he said.
An unidentified, independent witness would be on hand to confirm no help was given.
Friday, January 28, 2005
I smell a development deal!
Neighborhood Scared After Kid Finds Huge Stack Of Money
One Man Arrested
POSTED: 2:55 pm EST January 28, 2005
DALLAS -- A convenience store owner in one of Dallas' poorest neighborhoods was amazed when she started seeing children from the elementary school across the street buying candy and chips with $100 bills.
"One boy came in here with a $100 bill and asked for change," Charlene Williams said of an incident on Saturday. When she told the boy he needed to be careful with his "mama's money," he told her: "This ain't my mama's money. This is my money."
It turned out that a youngster had apparently found tens of thousands of dollars in suspected drug money and was handing it out to others.
Soon, though, some men came looking for the money, spreading fear through the South Dallas neighborhood.
Over the past few days, parents have told police that men had come to their doors, threatening their children and demanding their money back. The elementary school was so rife with rumors and threats of a drive-by shooting that it was locked down for an hour on Wednesday, and about 200 of the 600 children stayed home the next day.
On Thursday night, a man was arrested and accused of abducting and beating a 12-year-old boy who had some of the money. The boy was later returned home.
Before he was jailed on $5 million bail, the suspect, 23-year-old Sylvespa Adams, told KDFW-TV that he never threatened anyone and that the money had been stolen from him. He disputed it was drug money, as police suspect.
"I'm not no kidnapper," he said. "I work."
The boy's mother told The Dallas Morning News that her son had spent part of the money and given away the rest. She said she assured Adams that she would pay him back in installments.
"I don't know what else to do," she told the newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity. "These people already know where I stay."
In another incident, Erie Roy told the newspaper that she was watching television with her 12-year-old son Tuesday when two men stormed through her open front door with two of the boy's friends. She said one of the men kept his hand in his pocket as if he had a gun, and one of the boys was crying.
Roy said one of the men threatened her son by telling him: "I don't have no problem with killing you. I want my money right now."
"These are drug dealers. If they come back - I'm afraid," she said, sobbing. "I know they're going to hurt me. What am I supposed to do?"
Roy said that her youngest son was offered money by neighborhood kids Sunday but did not take any.
Lt. Jan Easterling, a police spokeswoman, said Thursday that detectives believe the youngsters may have found anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000.
On Friday, investigators said were still trying to determine who found the money, where and exactly how much. There were no additional suspects, and none of the children had been charged with a crime.
"Definitely people are saying they're afraid," Easterling said. "They're afraid for their kids."
At the Joseph J. Rhoads Learning Center, teachers became suspicious after seeing one boy passing out money at school Monday. And Williams, the store owner, said she also noticed children with new shoes and coats. "All you have to do is see the ones with the new stuff on them and you know," she said.
Security remained tight at the school Friday, though the number of students absent was down to about 100. "They feel a little better now that this alleged suspect turned himself in," district spokeswoman Sandra Guerrero said.
Ah yes, because there's nothing quite so dignified as croaking on the six o'clock evening news.
Terminally ill Ottawa man wants to die with dignity, plans to end his life today
Friday, January 28, 2005
- Page A5
KINGSTON -- A 78-year-old retired businessman who has suffered from an incurable lung condition for years plans to commit suicide today in his suburban Ottawa home.
Marcel Tremblay said he plans to attend his own wake with 50 friends and relatives, have a final meal of filet mignon and then retire to his home in a bungalow in Kanata, Ont.
Then, wearing his favourite cardigan, Mr. Tremblay will sit in his comfy leather recliner and put a helium-inflated bag over his head.
"I'll just go to sleep," Mr. Tremblay told the Kingston Whig-Standard. "Everything stops within five minutes.
"It's very quick. No side effects. No twitching of the body. No throwing up. The pills could make you do that and if someone is watching you, it could affect them."
Mr. Tremblay, who has advocated for the right to die, admitted he is expecting to make a "noise" with his suicide.
He suffers from a number of health problems, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a lung condition that leaves him unable to breathe properly.
"It's supposed to kill me, but it's taking too damn long," he said. "I can't think of a worse death than not being able to breathe.
"I have trouble getting air into my lungs and they say it will get worse and worse until I can't breathe at all. I have nothing to look forward to except a lousy death."
Mr. Tremblay said he believes he will eventually die from the illness or from some complication of it.
"I wake up every morning wishing I died the night before," said Mr. Tremblay, who breathes heavily as he speaks.
Mr. Tremblay, who has been involved with the group Dying with Dignity for years, started planning his death about three months ago when he decided he wasn't going to live in pain any longer.
His psychiatrist declined to comment on his patient's state of mind. Mr. Tremblay's family and friends told the Whig-Standard that he is of sound mind.
Mr. Tremblay has hired Lawrence Greenspon, a prominent Ottawa lawyer, who said suicide is an act that is legal in Canada, provided the person doesn't receive help from someone else.
Assisting in a suicide carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
The lawyer will also ensure Mr. Tremblay's family, who will be present when he dies, won't be charged criminally for assisting his suicide.
Mr. Tremblay said he hopes his death will have an impact because he feels strongly that people should have the right to decide when they die.
"I want to make as much noise about this as I can," he said.
The most famous case involving the right to die involved Sue Rodriguez, a 42-year-old B.C. woman who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease. She committed suicide in 1994 with help after losing a legal battle that ended when the Supreme Court ruled society's obligation to preserve life outweighed her right to choose.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
So here's a nugget of joy...
I'm doing this play, A Moon for the Misbegotten. I'm doing it to get away from things, to get back to basics before all this crap started.
So early in rehearsals an actor drops out and needs to be replaced. It's a small role, but important, T Steadman Harder, the Standard Oil millionaire.
So who does the director get to play Harder? The guy I sold the Dalzell house to!
What are the odds of this happening? Does anyone know anything about probability theory?
If you're French, please send this letter to Ottawa. You will be supporting families of missing children like the Petersons and the Surprenants:
L’honorable Anne McLellan, C.P., députée
Ministre de la Sécurité publique et de la Protection civile
Chambre des communes
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Objet : Banque nationale de données génétiques des personnes disparues et une banque nationale de données génétiques des restes humains non identifiés
Madame la Ministre,
La présente est pour réclamer la création d’une banque nationale de données génétiques des personnes disparues et d’une banque nationale de données génétiques des restes humains non identifiés. De plus, je tiens à souligner qu’il est important que ces données soient reliées au fichier criminalistique afin d’identifier les victimes et les tueurs et les violeurs en série.
Cette législation a reçu l’appui des groupes de victimes, des organisations qui s’occupent des enfants disparus, de la Gendarmerie Royale du Canada et de ministres fédéraux, provinciaux et des territoires canadiens. Le besoin est urgent et les familles des personnes disparues ont déjà trop attendu.
En tant que ministre de la Sécurité publique et de la Protection civile c’est à vous que revient cette responsabilité. Chaque jour est douloureux pour les familles des personnes disparues. Elles méritent le réconfort de savoir que si l’on retrouvait la personne disparue qu’ils en seraient informés.
J’attends avec impatience de connaître votre plan pour la mise sur pied de ces outils qui serviront à tous les Canadiens.
Veuillez agréer, Madame la Ministre, mes meilleures salutations,
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Do you want to know what's great?
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GREAT?
I am so busy lately I have no idea what's going on in the news.
Murder victim's family wants answers from parole board
SHERBROOKE, QUE. - The family of Julie Boisvenu wants to know why her killer was paroled despite a rape conviction.
Parole board decisions in the rest of Canada are public record, while Quebec's access to information laws prevent open access to inmate files
Boisvenu's father says he can't understand why Hugo Bernier was released.
In 1999, Bernier was convicted on rape charges in Gaspé and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Even though the presiding judge said Bernier was dangerous and likely to reoffend, the criminal was paroled three months into the sentence.
Two years later, Bernier raped and murdered Julie Boisvenu in Sherbrooke, Que.
Boisvenu says the parole board won't give him an explanation.
"If we are victims, why do we have to fight again to know what happened in Julie's case? That kind of information should be public," says Boisvenu.
Quebec's access to information laws prevent open access to inmates' files, says David Sultan, vice president of the Quebec Parole Board.
Sultan says it's a different story in the rest of Canada.
"If you make a request in the federal parole board, they will send you the decisions, the conditions, and everything else that has to do with the inmate. It's night and day," he says, describing the difference between the federal and provincial systems.
The Quebec Parole Board recommended the province loosen its access laws, Sultan says.
He says the decision is in the hands of the public security minister.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Little Things... about me, about her
In my friend Patricia Pearson's 2002 article about the murder of Theresa, a lot was made of a ticket that was found in her abandoned wallet for a theatrical production of Crime & Punishment.
For those of you who are Who Killed Theresa junkies (we are a limited lot, consisting of family members, Quebec police officers and rubber-neckers) that clue turned out to be a dead end. Shortly after the piece was published, a former student came forward to state that, yes indeed, Theresa did attended a school sponsored production of Crime & Punishment at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal
Theresa loved performance. She studied ballet, and I believe, had she been afforded the opportunity, she would have been a great actress.
Many of my experiences with Theresa are blurred. For instance, I can remember trips to the mall or vacations, but these events are not person-specific - I remember the family together as a group, but I cannot recall the individual influence each of us had on one another. But I do remember that Theresa was responsible for introducing me to plays.
In 1976 Theresa accompanied me to a high school production of Teahouse of the August Moon (Teahouse of thickest Moon???). This is one experience with Theresa that I remember vividly. I was in grade 7. My dad drove us to the show at St Thomas High School. We rode in the backside of the car. We both thought the show was incredible (hey, what did we know?). Dad picked us up after the production. On the way home we sat in the back of the car. Burton Cummings was singing My Own Way To Rock on the radio (sorry for that).
Why is this important to me? Because my sister is responsible for my now 30 year relationship with theater. For 15 years I was an actor (I gave it up, there's no money there). Nevertheless, to this day I maintain a small connection. I am Managing Director of a company here in North Carolina. (it's a modest endeavor; we do four shows a year.) Once a year I indulge myself and act in a production.
Why do I bring this up? Because currently I am rehearsing for a production of Eugene O'Neill's Moon for the Misbegotten in which I play Jamie Tyrone; so please don't overly misinterpret my withdrawal with just depression. The fact is, I'm busy learning lines; and if Theresa EVER found out I had given up theater because I was too busy making blog postings, she'd kick my ass.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Oh boy. Doesn't this look like a trip down memory lane.
Guess what I'll be watching tonight
Friday, January 21, 2005
The case of the unsolved 1975 death of a 14-year-old Massachusetts girl that was reopened by a phone call to the police 22 years later. The girl, Robin Gilbert, was found dead on a Reading, Mass., golf course on July 2, 1975, and the cause was ruled to be heart disease. A second autopsy, in 1997, found that Robin had been strangled.
Hummm.... this is familiar. I know a girl like that. In fact, I know a boy who was found dead on a golf course in Lennoxville, Quebec in the same year that the girl died, and his death was ruled accidental...
Sure makes you wonder?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
A good day, but...
I got a lot done at work, and got my readings and assignments completed for school (did I mention I'm back at University?)
Look, I'll fess up... the fact is, what happened in the Orange County court last Monday really shook me up. To sit there with the Carrboro police, the Keys, the Dalzells really messed with me. I didn't think it would, but it did. I don't know what to think. Except to say that this is a really big tragedy that has impacted a very little community.
I hope for resolution.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Robert Blake Jurors Tour Shooting Scene
Little known fact: I'm friends with the owner of Vitello's, Steve Ristivo. When I lived in LA I used to go to Vitello's quite a lot (why does this stuff follow me around like a bad smell?).
Hey! That's MY booth!
By LINDA DEUTSCH
The Associated Press
Friday, January 14, 2005; 5:53 AM
LOS ANGELES - Bundled in hats and coats against the chilly night air, jurors in Robert Blake's murder trial took a field trip to the murder scene, inspecting the street where shots rang out and even stopping at the restaurant where Blake's wife had her last meal.
Twelve jurors and six alternates arrived by bus in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood on Thursday night so they could see for themselves what the neighborhood looks like at about the same time Bonny Lee Bakley was shot to death on May 4, 2001.
Earlier, they visited Vitello's, the popular neighborhood Italian restaurant where Blake and his wife had dined just before she was shot. They even saw the secluded booth where Blake and his wife sat.
As jurors were led through the restaurant, Blake sat grimly watching under a wall of photographs of Vitello's famous customers. By coincidence he was positioned directly next to a photograph of former Police Chief Bernard Parks, who first announced Blake was being charged with murder.
By evening, jurors spent more than an hour marching up and down local streets, peering into a car resembling the one Blake parked near the restaurant that night and examining the same trash bin where the gun used to kill Bakley was found.
Blake was present with his lawyers, but stood off to the side in a darkened area and watched somberly as the procession began and ended. TV cameras were held back and neighborhood streets were blocked off to accommodate the tour.
Several jurors asked Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp if they could walk a second time over the paths witnesses had testified about earlier in Blake's murder trial and to include areas that were not on the original tour itinerary, including an alley behind Vitello's.
They were also taken to see the exterior of a house where Blake banged on the front door seeking help and to a large tree a couple have testified they hid behind as they watched the drama unfold.
Before heading to the scene, the judge told the panelists not to speak to anyone other than the bailiff and not to touch anything. She said neither side vouched for the exactness of lighting conditions during the recreation of the scene.
Blake has said he and his wife left Vitello's after dinner and returned to the car, where he left her while he went back to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he carried for protection and had forgotten.
When he returned to the car, Blake told police, his wife was in the passenger seat with the window down and was bleeding from two gunshot wounds.
Blake, 71, is on trial on charges of murder, soliciting others to commit a murder and lying in wait.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Something for this week:
Shortly after the police searched our house at 500 Robin road, I did a Lexis-Nexis search on Deborah Key and came upon this letter-to-the-editor written by Deborah's mother.
The letter had a large influence on me. This was back in June of 2000, I had not yet begun looking into my sister's death and I found I shared many of the feelings Deborah's mother so eloquently expressed in this letter:
September 21, 1998
Today is my daughter's birthday although she is not here to share it with us in the traditional family celebration. Years ago, as soon as they were old enough, it became a tradition in our family for each child to choose a birthday meal to share with the family. Sometimes, it was to be cooked and eaten at home and at other times it was eaten at a restaurant of the birthday child's choice.
Deborah's favorite food is seafood and in her adult years she always chose 42nd Street Oyster Bar for her birthday meal. No one ever asked because we knew well in advance to make reservations there for all to enjoy.
We not only miss her smile today, knowing how she always looked forward to her birthday, but we also feel a sense of great tragedy and loss. The deep sorrow her family feels because Deborah, almost certainly is a victim of a cowardly sexual predator laying in wait, cannot be measured.
Although we still have high hopes for her return to us, we have to be realistic at this time, as difficult as it may be. She has been missing for almost 10 months now.
Deborah is my flesh and blood and no one knows her better than I do. Much you have read in regard to my daughter's lifestyle is merely hearsay. I was deeply hurt when I read what I consider an assault on her character and I feel I must defend her in her absence. It seems as if she, the victim, is being made responsible for this horrible, inhumane act.
Deborah is a great humanitarian. She always sees something good in every individual - no matter what the social economical background. She feels a need to help those in trouble and with confidence she tries. She is caring, sensitive to others' feelings, intelligent, fun-loving, beautiful and yes, very friendly. Her friendliness has been publicly attacked and mistakenly interpreted as living a reckless life and as an invitation for assault and possibly murder. Those who truly know Deborah recognize this as a completely rude insult. I recall a verse from the New Testament: Hebrews 13:2.
Deborah attended private schools from age 4 through 16 where she learned at a very early age to trust her classmates and friends. She is a wonderful reflection of God's love and I share with you today a hospital picture of her when she was just a few hours old. I was so overjoyed and to finally become a mother and vividly remember the pride I felt when I held her in my arms. I consider Deborah and my other children the greatest gifts from God amongst many other of His blessings to me. My children are the absolute center of my life. Deborah was beautiful, well-behaved, good-natured and obedient as a child.
Deborah is not an outwardly affectionate person but she has many loves. Her family is the greatest love of her life. She also enjoys music, good food, great conversation, all sports, friendships, flowers, the beach, snowflakes, rainbows, nature and God's creatures. The creatures I instantly think of are our dog, birds (especially the hummingbirds she enjoys watching at our feeder) and butterflies.
It is incomprehensible to me why anyone would commit such a cowardly crime as destroying Deborah's life. She is compassionate and has no enemies. She certainly deserved the right to love her life here on earth until God chose to end it. I personally feel the person responsible for this horrendous act does not walk with God and may never.
My love for Deborah cannot bring her back if she has been murdered and this is almost a certainty. I love her, I love her spirit and I love the way she wove the things that mattered to her into a life that mattered.
Because of her love for nature, I chose a stepping stone with a floral and a hummingbird design on it and placed it where I believe she last walked. Around it I planted pansies, one of her favorite flowers. Above this is a lively butterfly fluttering its wings in a shrub.
Deborah's family will protect her memory and keep her alive in our hearts always. We will forever love her and miss her. Death can end a life but not a memory. We have many happy ones we shared with her.
Happy Birthday, Deborah, wherever you are. We wish we knew.
Sporadic posts for the next couple of weeks...
Folks, I need to disconnect from the Matrix for a while (few blog posts, limited email and cell phone usage).
I just need a break, I'll check back with you the first of February.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Stephen Williams cops a plea
Stephen Williams... I'm never quite sure what to make of this guy; is he a prize jack-ass leaching off victims' suffering, or should we thank him for calling into question the competence of police and Crown?
I do know one thing, "Karla - A Pact with the Devil" is one of the lamest titles put into print and begins with one of the worst opening paragraphs I've heard in quite some time. Here it is for your enjoyment:
"There are abiding mysteries in life such as who cleft the Devil's foot or what song the Sirens sang? Two more contemporary mysteries have plagued me for the better part of the past decade: Who is Karla Homolka and how did she come to have a future?"
Isn't that a masterful piece of shit?
Wait, read it again, only this time intonate it with Rod Serling's voice, it almost works:
"There are abiding mysteries in life such as who cleft the Devil's foot or what song the Sirens sang? Two more contemporary mysteries have plagued me for the better part of the past decade: Who is Karla Homolka and how did she come to have a future?"
Ooohh! So Stephen is a haunted man... spooookkkyyy.
I much prefer Alan Young's question (which at least manages to balance humor with the macabre),
Is the Buddha in Bernardo?
Anyway, for what it's worth, here's today's Globe article on the plea:
Saayyy.. That's not Williams, it's the nasty step-father from Harry Potter!
Saturday, January 15, 2005
The sledgehammer has landed on the ant. After authorities spent years and millions of dollars in pursuit of Stephen Williams, author of two controversial books on serial killer Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, Mr. Williams pleaded guilty yesterday to breaching a court order by publishing on-line the names of people the couple had sexually assaulted. He pleaded guilty to one criminal count. The police had originally laid almost 100 charges.
Mr. Williams's books severely criticized the Crown and police handling of the Bernardo case, and the energy with which the authorities went after him was so disproportionate it suggested this criticism had spurred them on. In 2003, the Ontario Provincial Police raided his home and threw him in jail for a night. Two months later, police raided his home and seized not only his computers but his wife's, including backup files of an unfinished novel.
Yesterday, as Mr. Williams paid the legal price for his action, it was clear the vehemence had not ebbed. Ontario Attorney-General Michael Bryant attacked Mr. Williams as a "criminal" and "serial trafficker in the human misery of victims." Even now, the state's sledgehammer won't rest.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Re: Your e-mail
The continuing stooorrryyy of IVAC misery
1199 rue de Bleury, 5 etage
The amount of time you and IVAC have spent "dragging your heals" on this matter is insulting. Do you realize it is almost one year since I filed my initial claim with you?
How is it possible that IVAC's new mandate is "customer service", yet I have to wait an entire year for you to answer a simple question; will your office offer our family recompence in the matter of the death of my sister?
Sent: Jan 13, 2005 2:35 PM
Subject: Your e-mail
I am sorry for the unexpected delays. I have not yet received the answers to the
precise questions. The Commission's investigator gave me explanations about the
delay and I am satisfied with his answers. It will allow me to make a decision
with complete evidence.
AndrÃ© Beaulieu, lawyer
I've gotten some emails in response to my last post, and although I appreciate you're concern, please know that I'm alright.
Further, what I post on this blog I choose to post, so there is an element of calculation in what I'm doing. I have a perfectly rounded life, this blog gives you a skewed reality. What I choose to place here I do to make a point - that victims function like any other member of society - we have families, we enjoy our weekends, we have sundry conflicts.
But there is this other level that we operate under; not that we need to be relegated to the asylum. You just need to know we have a gallows sense of humor, and sometimes life isn't all that funny.
Now go enjoy something silly. Go visit Trixie
Therapy's looking pretty good now
An intense week that started when I received this:
January 7, 2005
Last night I was explaining to my step son what the new movie White Noise is about..I got a flash back to my younger years. I kept remembering this picture that I had seen as a young girl and I suddenly got a flash that this could be related to the girl that was murdered in Lennoxville. Somehow I saw the picture and kept seeing the Champlain / Bishop's Campus and the green bridge that comes into Lennoxville from the campu. I generally don't put a lot of faith into psychic mumbo jumbo but this feeling was overwhelming in itself. I cannot explain it. I just knew that I had to look into this further to determine if there was anything out there to explore when I remembered about the murder of the student attending the campus in Lennoxville.
I remember playing in a neighbors basement in Sawyerville when I came across a box of pictures of a vary scary nature. they were pictures of a girl in bondage, she was tied to a chair and you could tell that she had been abused from what I can remember of one particular picture. She was bent over in the chair and her arms and legs were bound to that chair. Her clothing was in disarray and you could tell that she has been sexually abused because there were 2 guys in that picture from what I can remember I think that one of them was naked but I am not sure, it is mostly memories of her that I have, she was in her bra and panties. The look on her face was one of fear and disgust. From what I recall that was roughly about a year or so after your sister had gone missing. I remember that I was around maybe 11 or 12 years old at the time. That picture has stayed in my memory since then. Somehow my explanation of the movie White Noise brought those memories together with Lennoxville and I got the urge to do a search on the web. I can still remember putting the pictures back in the box because they made me scared and I remember that there was more than one picture.
Still today I can see myself holding that particular picture in the basement of the house because it caught my attention and you could tell that there was great suffering in that picture. The girl in those pictures has an uncanny resemblance to the pictures of your sister that I have seen on your web site. I would say that I am 80% sure that it was her in those pictures. However the two men I do not know.
I do not wish to upset you or give you false hope but I think this may be worth looking into. I live in Lennoxville now and at the time I was raised in Sawyerville which is not very far form either Compton or Lennoxville. I certainly understand your need for resolution and I certainly respect you for not giving up hope of solving this crime. I for one do not feel comfortable knowing that I may have spent my life around someone who could have committed this type of act. I can remember reading about your story a few years back in the Record and I never connected the picture with the story at that time. So why now?????? Like I said it is the overwhelming feeling that the two go together.
Being a conservative person I would ask you to not divulge my name to anyone other than Jimmy Potvin of the Surete du Quebec. He is someone that I know and trust. I am willing to talk with him at any time and he can contact me. I hope that this information will help you. Please know that some people here in the townships understand where you are coming from and why you want this resolved. I feel ashamed that no one from Champlain has stepped forward to help you. So I hope that maybe this letter will shed some light on what happened if not to your sister then maybe it can resolve someone else's suffering.
I am not doing this to gain anything. I certainly do not want any media attention. My soul purpose is to find out why I am linking these 2 items together and why the feeling is so overwhelming. I do not know you and you do not know me so I hope that I can trust you with this information because no one and I repeat no one knows about what I have just told you. I have many details that go along with this information. Lets hope that this can help in some way.
Isn't that a little slice of heaven?
So I write her back:
Thank you for you email. With all respect, Jimmy Potvin is only a P.R. person with the Quebec police, so I am fowarding this to Theresa's investigator in Montreal. He will contact you and look into the matter.
Then I sent the whole mess to my brother, and we begin to banter it back and forth (here is our fucked-up life):
From: John Allore
Sent: January 7, 2005 6:34 PM
Don't you get overly upset by this kind of shit, ok? It's most probably nothing, but I would feel I was not being responsible if I didn't share it with you.
Sent: Jan 11, 2005 11:28 AM
To: 'John Allore'
Subject: RE: letter
Yech! People (in the Eastern Townships) with a lot of time on their hand, sifting through web pages probably do a lot of this kind of thing. That is, relate someone else's story to their own.
I could spend a lot of time reading this email over and over again to see if their is a connection that seems REAL, but then again I could not.
None-the-less I will print it out and read it over at night before I fall asleep and then have bad nightmares.
Initial thoughts; She's a woman. Does that make her trustworthy? (then again there's that Karla Homolka person)
She knows Jimmy Potvin at the SQ. Hmmm? (then again... so what. This is kinda link saying I know this guy named Guy in Montreal, so you know him?)
What am I trying to say? The world is a sick place!
How much of this stuff do you actually get?
From: John Allore
Sent: January 11, 2005 11:31 AM
Subject: RE: letter
Ya, I know... I've kinda had it with all this... At this point I'd rather help other people in some concrete way then dwell on this shit.
I probably get about one of these a month.
Sent: Jan 11, 2005 11:49 AM T
o: 'John Allore'
Subject: RE: letter
what if it's true?
From: John Allore [
Sent: January 11, 2005 12:01 PM
If it's true I trust Benoit to look into it and determine if it has any merit.
Then in the midst of this we get this email from our father:
Shortly after Theresa's funeral in May, 1979, we received a large hand made card addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Allore, Andre and John.
It is 7" X 11" containing several photos of Theresa and her friends, in an eight page album.
In the centre page was a hand written poem signed by her friends. It was scribed in India ink by Andre Vonn one of her friends.
I have typed it up in the enclosed attachment and it looks pretty much the same as it appears on the card.
It may help to understand Theresa's characteristics and the how she was regarded by her friends.
I Remember a Friend As all do at this time, I remember and relive the past.
I remember a concert and a girl cheering louder than anyone for a man named Bowie.
I remember a box of carnations bought by a girl for the people she worked with, in case they forgot what Valentine’s day meant.
I also remember a mystery case involving the eyes of a certain “Minky”.
Oh I have many memories of this girl. Some make me smile and some make me laugh. But none ever make me sad, because I remember a girl with enthusiasm and a zest for life no one could equal. She lived only today, and tomorrow only came as a new adventure.
I remember a friend, Theresa.
Some say death is the end and grieve. Some say it is the beginning and rejoice. But death isn’t either. It is the end of the body our eyes knew. But when you truly live, you give a little of yourself to those you touch.
It may only be a fleeting moment of a conversation to some. To others, friends, a certain tilt of the head, a thought, a gesture, a tone of voice, a phrase remains. All of us retain a little something. So there is only a continuation of one’s self.
So look at one another, really look, and listen. And if you reach out you’ll see.
She’s there. She always will be.
Susanne Juneau “Sue”
Lisanne Grady “Shady”
Haidy Muller & Shelley Wilson
Cathy Braschuk alias “Chuck”
Which leads to this final email from my brother:
The emotional swing between this email and yours of yesterday is really too much to handle. I need to go for a walk and then go home early.
Amen... Let's go home
(and, no, I can't remember what the "Minky" referred to)
This via Steve Sullivan
Ouch! The attorney general doesn't know the rights of victims? B.C.'s in trouble; this would never happen in Manitoba. Then Steve rips into B.C. for falling behind on victims issues (ya, the timing is great with the Pickton trial coming up next millennia)
Yes, the ability to read VIS in court is about the only recourse victims have in the legal process
Plant should do homework on victim's rights: B.C. attorney - general off target on Regina vs. Bertuzzi
The Vancouver Province
Fri 14 Jan 2005
Column: Joey Thompson
Geoff Plant ought to get himself a front-row seat in a refresher course on crime victims' rights -- or take a few minutes to thumb through Canada's Criminal Code.
B.C.'s attorney-general would soon realize he was off target with his claim that victims of crime -- among them hockey player Steve Moore -- don't have a legal right to deliver their impact statements in person.
Plant's position -- that the law permits oral testimony but a victim has no right to insist on it -- is misinformed. Granted, our top courts have yet to weigh in with an official interpretation of Section 722, but the aim is clear thanks to 1999 CC revisions by then-federal justice minister Anne McLellan: Victims who want to describe their injuries in person "shall" be allowed to.
Don't take that as meaning they have been, though. Crown handling of victim impact statements --which judges are required to consider in determining a fit sentence -- varies from province to province, court to court.
In B.C., personal testimonials by victims of crime are almost non-existent. Crown -- keen for a speedy hearing on sentencing, especially when a plea bargain with the accused already exists -- routinely assumes the task of describing the harm suffered by the victim. From this vantage point, more often than not they do a lacklustre job.
Which brings us to Regina vs. Todd Bertuzzi, who cut a deal with Crown to cop a guilty plea to assault in order to avoid a stint in jail. Once the brute admitted his guilt, did the prosecutor stand up for Moore as he should?
Quite the contrary. As law-abiding citizens we have reason to worry if the reaction from our A-G's office to Bertuzzi's injured victim is standard.
Instead of trying to facilitate the injured Colorado player's wish to be present in court, Plant and prosecutor Garth Loeppky took it upon themselves to challenge Moore's request for a sentencing adjournment to give him time to think about what to say. They also flatly denied his right to say it in person, which the law permits.
Which is why the national Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime fired off a complaint letter to Gordon Campbell a few weeks ago.
"B.C. was once a leader in the victims'-rights movement, but your government has completely reversed that trend," director Steve Sullivan admonished the premier.
"The Crown could have argued that in B.C. crime victims matter. [But] it appeared your government was more concerned with Mr. Bertuzzi than for Mr. Moore, who was the victim in this brutal attack. I believe both Mr. Plant and the Crown are incorrectly interpreting the [law] to suit their own interests."
Sullivan has taken this miscarriage of justice a step farther -- he's also asked federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler for his take on the law regarding victim impact statements.
Sullivan tells me if Cotler says he's in Plant's camp, he'll have to pressure Ottawa to further revise the Criminal Code for the sake of the country's thousands of victims of crime.
But it's our law officials' attitude, not the law, that requires changing. Staring at me is a release from McLellan, dated Nov. 25, 1999, in which she spells out the revisions in Bill C-79, legislation to enhance the safety, security and privacy of victims of crime.
Top of the list: "Victims [will be] informed about opportunities to prepare a victim impact statement and will [be] permitted to read the statement out loud if they choose."
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Amidst all the local fuss I almost missed that I had been linked (sniped) by a seemingly trivial blog...
But having visited it I now say, why not The Secret Life of Shoes?
Come join the discussion on the Key / Dalzell debacle over at Orangepolitics.org
My post to Forest Covington:
I find this all so upsetting. I guess I wanted so much for the police to win this one. You know, the way Lau described what happened is not what the documents support. Lau assured me Miranda had been read before any confession, he assured me this was "by the book". You want to believe so badly, it is such a slap in the face to learn that (much as you feared) local police aren't that savvy and experienced (shit, I know to read Miranda and I'm not an officer?)
Anyway, I hear that Orangepolitics.org is going to make a posting about this tomorrow, and as Debbie's friend I feel you should respond. Also, Isthatlegal.org has talked about it.
Both these blog posts bug me. Yes, "legally" this is a very interesting issue, but everyone is ignoring the human element that a murderer (someone we both agree will most likely kill again) is about to be released into the community. What does that say for Chapel Hill? - that the community produced him, and that he is about to join us again. But all anyone can do is applaud the good work the defense did in saving the constitution?
What happens in court is not an accurate reflection of how society operates. The law is left in tact, but society is left to pick up the pieces. How depressing.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Forrest Covington's blog is about music. But because he was a friend of Deborah Key's (I, unfortunately never had the pleasure) his posts of late have turned to thoughts of Debbie.
I think you can sense in both of our messages lately that we are both - relunctantly - a bit disappointed in the Carrboro police.
There's a nice little discussion brewing over at Is That Legal on the Deborah Key / Andrew Dalzell situation.
Shades of Serial Killers gone by
There is word in today's Herald Sun that Andrew Dalzell had plans to adopt a 13-year-old from Virginia and that his girlfriend was in on the plan.
Sounds to me like Bernardo / Homolka redux.
AND - of course - now his bond has been reduced:
Police eye Dalzell ties to girl, 13
By BETH VELLIQUETTE :
Jan 11, 2005 : 9:51 pm ET
CARRBORO -- Despite a judge's ruling Monday to throw out Andrew Douglas Dalzell's confession that he killed Deborah Leigh Key, the Carrboro Police Department still is investigating Dalzell -- including whether he was trying to lure a girl he met on the Internet to live with him in North Carolina.
A search warrant affidavit says Carrboro police found evidence on Dalzell's computer that led them to investigate whether he had established a relationship with a girl of about 13 on the Internet and was planning to "adopt" her.
"We've been in contact with authorities in other states regarding this information," said Lt. Jim Phillips of the Carrboro Police Department. "We've followed leads in Virginia and West Virginia, and it remains an active investigation."
On Nov. 16, Superior Court Judge James Spencer signed a search warrant request to search the computer records of Yahoo!, a California-based company that offers free e-mail and other Internet services.
Dalzell had always been a suspect in the disappearance of Key, who was last seen in downtown Carrboro on Dec. 1, 1997.
On Sept. 8, Carrboro police officers drove 140 miles west to Stanley, where Dalzell was living with his girlfriend and her family. They arrested him for stealing property from a hobby store where he once worked, and later that night, he confessed to killing Key.
The confession was ruled inadmissible on Monday because the officers failed to give Dalzell his Miranda rights before interrogating him and because they failed to follow North Carolina law regarding the proper criminal procedure after someone is placed under arrest.
While in Stanley, the officers served a search warrant on the residence to seize items from Dalzell, including his computer.
In requesting another search warrant, Cpl. Anthony Westbrook, an investigator with the Carrboro Police Department, wrote an account of what led him to seek the search warrant for an e-mail account of Master--Inquisitor1976, which was a name registered to Dalzell.
"On Sept. 8th, 2004, a search warrant was served on the residence of Andrew Douglas Dalzell. This resulted in the seizure of a computer belong to Dalzell," the affidavit states. "A search of the computer was conducted and various items were discovered stored on the hard drive."
In a file called "Pix," police discovered 561 images and photographs of a pornographic nature, the affidavit states.
On Sept. 21, Carrboro police charged Dalzell with six counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor because six of the pornographic photos appeared to be of minor girls engaging in sexual activity with an adult. Dalzell is awaiting trial on those charges, for which he is being held in the Orange County Jail under a $20,000 bond.
The affidavit also says that a sub-file in "Pix" contained a file labeled "Carrie." "Of these images, 49 photographs depicted a female approximately 13 years of age modeling various outfits in different settings. One photograph depicted only the exposed breasts and abdomen of a young female, approximately 13 years of age," the affidavit states.
Police found another file on the computer that was labeled "Direction to Carrie," the affidavit states. "Included in this file were various links to MapQuest.Com, which listed detailed directions to an address in Richmond, Virginia," it says.
Once the officers discovered the material on Dalzell's computer, they began an investigation to try to determine who "Carrie" was and to find out whether Dalzell had some type of relationship with her.
"An interview was conducted with Dalzell's girlfriend, Stacey Palmer," the affidavit states. "Palmer stated that 'Carrie' was Dalzell's cousin who recently lost her parents in a tragic accident."
Palmer told police, according to the affidavit, that she and Dalzell were going to adopt "Carrie" as their own daughter and raise her. "An interview was conducted with Juanita Mullen, Dalzell's mother, who stated that no such relative existed," the affidavit stated.
Westbrook wrote that he later learned from a confidential source that Dalzell met "Carrie" in an Internet chat room. "Carrie" allegedly agreed to run away to live with Dalzell in North Carolina and was waiting for him to come to Richmond to pick her up, Westbrook said in the affidavit.
Because the photograph of a girl's breasts and abdomen was in the "Carrie" file, police became concerned that some adult may be sexually exploiting the young girl in the photograph via the Internet, Westbrook wrote.
"Records potentially located in Dalzell's Yahoo! Internet account, screen name Master--Inquisitor1976, may have additional information in identifying "Carrie," it the affidavit says.
The search warrant requested Yahoo! to provide information about "Master--Inquisitor1976" and his profile, address and other information. It also requests all photographs, files, Internet links and/or downloads from Master--Inquisitor1976.
Westbrook conducted the search on Nov. 16 and seized 78 pages of data from the Yahoo! account of Master--Inquisitor1976, which includes e-mail addresses, archived e-mails, saved photographs and saved profile information, according to a court document that lists the items seized in the search.
On Dec. 7, Orange-Chatham Superior Court Judge Wade Barber signed another search warrant request from Westbrook. Using the information he obtained when he searched Master--Inquistor1976's records, he wanted to again obtain a search warrant for Yahoo! for another account. The person who held that account sent an e-mail in August to Master--Inquisitor1976 that included three photographs of a juvenile wearing various lingerie outfits, exposing her buttocks, the affidavit states.
Westbrook obtained a computer disk of information about the other person's e-mail account, according to an inventory of items seized.
Phillips declined to say much about the investigation into "Carrie," except to say it is an active investigation that has moved from Virginia to West Virginia.
Dalzell, 28, remains in custody in the Orange County Jail under a total of $90,000 bond.
Although Barber ruled his confession to Key's murder inadmissible during his trial for second-degree murder, the charge still stands. His bond for the murder charge is $60,000.
But because Dalzell's confession cannot be used during the trial, his attorney, Orange-Chatham Public Defender James Williams, is expected to file a motion to reduce his bond on the murder charge, since Carrboro police reportedly do not have much other evidence linking Dalzell to Key's murder.
Dalzell also faces charges of larceny by an employee, misdemeanor possession of stolen property, financial identity fraud and obtaining property by false pretenses for allegedly stealing fantasy figurines and art supplies and a customer's credit card number from a Chapel Hill hobby store where he worked. Police said he used the credit card number to obtain $100 worth of services from a Russian mail-order bride service on the Internet.
His bond on those charges is $10,000.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
For the moment, let's turn back to affairs in Canada (I'm a little nauseated with North Carolina right now)
Cathy Caretta was murdered in Montreal in 1998. Cathy's father, Christian Caretta is one of the founding fathers of Quebec's Association des familles de personnes Assassinees ou Disparues (AFPAD - that's him in the front in the photo). Recently Cathy's older sister, Christine wrote to me to thank me for the work I had done along with Pierre Boisvenu. I asked her why there was no information about Cathy on the internet (Google it, you'll come up empty). Christine then wrote me the story of the murder of her sister which - with her permission- I have posted here (she addresses why there is so little information about Cathy's murder.):
My parents immigrated here in Montréal when I was two years old. I was a single child for many years until my baby sister came a long. Cathy and I were ten years apart.
She was my baby! When my parents got divorced we were inseparable. I raised my sister and that is maybe the reason why we needed each other so much. I took
care of her the same way I take care of my children. Cathy meant the world to me and she knew it. I would have done anything for her and I would do anything to have her back. It is very difficult for me to type all this mainly because I have closed myself up for so many years. The pain is devastating....
In the summer of 1997, one of my cousins was getting married in France and we were all invited. It was impossible for me to travel, so I told my dad to go with my sister. He was not too thrilled about the idea because he had his business to take care of. I told him it was maybe the last trip he would ever do with his daughter
mainly because she was old enough to travel on her own or with her friends. So I bought the tickets.
They had a great trip. My sister came back madly in love with a French man. This man was Jean-Paul Gerbet, he is my cousin's cousin. I still remember him from when we were young. We use to play together when I would go to France, we were the same age. He wanted Cathy to move to France but she would of never left us so she asked him to come to Montreal. He came once on vacation at the end of August and then came back at the beginning of winter. He did not have much money so my dad paid his plane ticket. Cathy was so happy! He had a sister living here so he lived with her. My dad gave him an old car. It was ok. He was indirectly related to us.
Soon after his arrival things were not that great any more. My sister was not the same and I knew there was something wrong. She did not talk much cause she
felt ashamed and responsible for making him come here. He would drink , be abusive verbally, he did not want her to have any more contacts with her family.....so she left him and he gave her back the key of my father's house, but he had made a double without her knowing.
On the morning of February 10, 1998 I was on the phone with my sister when he opened the door of the house with the double of the key. I knew what was going to happen mainly because of hints he would tell me regularly when he would call my house in a rage because Cathy did not want to know anything about him anymore. That morning he had shaved his head and kept his hair in a bag. In an other bag he had tape, rope, an exacto knife and more. In the trunk of his car a plastic shower curtain was found. (THE JUDGE DISREGARDED THIS EVIDENCE AND RULED NO PREMEDITATION )
Cathy had just gotten up, she was in her home, in her pajamas speaking with me on the phone. She was very upset and angry because he was in the house. I made the terrible mistake of calling my dad instead of the police. My sister's body was found that afternoon in our chalet up north. He had transported her body in the trunk of his car. (I will skip the details......)
Jean- Paul Gerbet is now in a federal prison near my house and very close to my sister's grave unfortunately. We went to trial for almost two years . I was the main witness and God was it ever difficult. I was being hit by the two defense lawyers paid by our government during the trial. During the preliminary hearing I had also been hit by Maitre Sophie Bourque one of the best private criminal lawyers in the province.
Who was there to prepare me to what I had to go through? Who was there to give me advice? Who was there to defend me? Where was the shoulder or the compassion I needed in moments of total despair? What were my rights? Who was going to pay my expenses such as: medication, baby- sitters, private psychologists ...... I even had to stop working because the trial was too far away in Joliette.
Jean-Paul Gerbet was convicted with second degree murder, eligible for parole after 10 years. The jury asked for a parole eligibility after 20 years and the judge refused it! The crown wanted 15 years.
Where is the justice? How can we trush the system?
- February 2005 he will be eligible for a semi- liberty
- February 2008 he will be eligible for parole.
What worries me now is the fact that I know for a fact that he was planning on asking for a Canadian citizenship. When I called Immigration Canada at the time they
did not know if there was a possibility for him to obtain it.
I am also worried about my own safety . What safety measures are in place by the government to assure my protection once he is out. Must I live in fear? Don't
forget I was a witness.... What he did out of vengeance to Cathy he can do to me....A narcissistic person such as he was described to be in court needs to win and have the final word.
You know John, I am a high school teacher and an orthopédagogue. I am specialized in students comportamental problems. I knew where Jean-Paul was heading for all along, but no one believed me....
There is nothing on the net about Cathy. I never worked on it. I had no more energy left. Maybe one day in a near future will we all get together and create a site on the net for all our lost ones....
I don't think I will ever live past it. The person I was will never be . But the half of me which still lives is slowly taking over again.... thanks to all of you.
Christine's death is a terrible affair, but after reading this I hope someone may help. I ask, how is it possible that a convicted murderer may be eligible to become a citizen in this country? Is there not a way to notify Canadian Immigration and prevent this from happening? I welcome all comments and suggestions.
They've got the momentum
Quebec's new victims association now eighty members strong
Solidarité entre les familles de personnes assassinées ou disparues
lundi 10 janvier 2005, 10 h 24 .
Cinq familles des régions du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie joignent les rangs de la nouvelle Association des familles de personnes assassinées ou disparues du Québec.
Ces parents de victimes pourront trouver de l'aide auprès de cet organisme sans but lucratif qui mettra bientôt en place une ligne téléphonique sans frais et un site internet. Ce regroupement est né du besoin de familles, lourdement éprouvées par la perte d'un être cher dans des circonstances dramatiques, d'échanger entre elles.
Le nouvel organisme offre la possibilité à ces familles d'obtenir un soutien psychologique et de les accompagner dans leurs démarches judiciaires. Le siège social de l'Association des familles de personnes assassinées ou disparues du Québec est situé en Estrie, mais l'organisme projette de se doter d'antennes régionales. Jusqu'à maintenant, l'association a recruté 80 familles, toutefois son objectif est de joindre au moins 20 % des 800 familles québécoises touchées par ce type de drame.
Pierre-Hugues BoisvenuLe président de l'association, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, est le père de la jeune Sherbrookoise, Julie Boisvenu, tuée en juin 2002. Selon M. Boisvenu, l'organisme, qu'il préside, permet de transposer au plan collectif, un drame individuel et des luttes personnelles.
« Il n'y a jamais eu au Québec de mouvement collectif pour dire que les familles se prennent en main et on sort les gens de l'ombre », fait-il valoir.
Pour la famille de Sonia Raymond de Causapscal, sauvagement assassinée sur une plage de Maria en Gaspésie en 1996, le rôle d'une telle association est essentiel. Le frère de Sonia Raymond, Marc-André, n'a d'ailleurs pas hésité une seconde avant d'en joindre les rangs. ''Si jamais la personne qui a assassiné ma soeur est arrêtée, le soutien qu'offre cette association va être très, très important », estime-t-il. Depuis une quinzaine d'années, au moins 20 familles de l'Est du Québec ont vécu la douleur provoquée par l'assassinat ou la disparition d'un proche.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Juanita Dalzell's defence of her son in yesterday's N&O is self-deluding fiction
Mother defends murder suspect
Mullen describes son's troubled past
Deborah Leigh Key vanished and is presumed dead.
By KAYCE T. ATAIYERO, Staff Writer
Like a dutiful son, Andrew Douglas Dalzell would call his mom a couple of times a week to catch up on life. They would chat about his family, his girlfriend, his plans for the future.
But lately those calls have been coming daily -- collect from the Orange County jail -- to Juanita Dalzell Mullen's Pittsboro home. Her 28-year-old son has been sitting in a cell since September, charged in the killing of a missing Carrboro woman.
On Monday, a judge could decide at a pretrial hearing whether to throw out his confession in the death of Deborah Leigh Key.
"This whole thing is making him kind of nervous," Mullen said. "He doesn't have anything else to think about."
Neither does she.
Since Key's 1997 disappearance, Mullen said both she and her son have been convicted in the court of public opinion.
The verdict: He is a monster, and she created him.
Mullen said she has spent the past seven years weathering criticism that has been blistering at times.
"It's very upsetting. These people are assuming something they don't know about someone they know nothing about," she said.
After two miscarriages, one stillbirth and seeing one child die at 2 1/2, Mullen adopted Dalzell when he was 7 weeks old on the Eve of Epiphany, Jan. 5, 1977.
She and her husband at the time, Michael, thought Dalzell was a prayer answered. The couple, who then lived in Durham, brought their new baby son, with his sandy brown hair and sea-blue eyes, to live in Chapel Hill when he was 10 months old.
Soon, their little bundle became a handful. As a child, Dalzell was someone his mother didn't understand and couldn't control despite her reading every book on child-rearing she could find.
Mullen recalls trying to wean her toddler off his bottle and his incessant crying for two weeks until she gave it back. Soon afterward, he gave up the bottle on his own.
"I can remember going and locking myself in the bathroom until I calmed down," she said. "I would try to put demands on him, but I felt like he was always doing things in his own time."
A difficult childhood
By Mullen's own account, her son grew up to be a troubled young man. A bright, former special-education student with attention-deficit disorder, Dalzell bounced from school to school and class to class trying to find his niche.
Early in his childhood, she said, he suffered from depression. Numerous visits to psychologists and various medications failed to lift his mood.
Dalzell switched hobbies like socks, from choir to Rainbow Soccer to arts courses to drums. At 18, he lost his adoptive father and his faith. His dad, Michael, died in 1995 of pancreatic cancer, and Dalzell, who was active in The Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, gave up on a God that he felt gave up on him. He dropped out of Northwood High School in Chatham County and later got his GED.
Dalzell had few social skills, few friends and didn't get along with his mom. He spent much of the following decade in his mother's house visiting chatrooms on the Internet, with brief interruptions by short-lived attempts at finding work. He lived on his own for only five months, in an apartment where his mother footed the bill.
His family acknowledges that Dalzell has "flopped around" much of his life. But for them, it's a pretty big leap to think that their son went from misfit to murderer.
"A person who can't keep a room any cleaner than he does can't hide a body, I don't care what anybody tells you," said George Mullen, Dalzell's stepfather of two years.
Tricked into confessing
According to police, Dalzell confessed to killing Key after investigators used a fake murder warrant and a death-penalty warning on district attorney stationery to dupe him into thinking he was being arrested in her death. Key's body has not been found.
Dalzell actually was being arrested for obtaining property by false pretense, financial identity fraud and possession of stolen property.
On Monday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Wade Barber could rule on public defender James Williams' motion to suppress Dalzell's statements. Williams argues that officers interrogated Dalzell before advising him of his rights and that the statements were obtained in violation of those rights. Dalzell declined to comment on his case at the advice of his attorney.
Juanita Mullen said officers had been out to get her son for years and forced him to make his confession.
"They told him if he can't produce a body, he was going to die," she said. "To Andrew, it was the equivalent of having a gun to his head."
Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison said the police didn't have a vendetta against Dalzell. She said the procedures and techniques used to get his confession were proper and lawful.
An innocent person would not have confessed in a similar situation, she said. "I do not believe that the confession was coerced. I believe he was properly [read his rights] and chose to confess the crime," she said.
The real victim
Susan Key Gagnon, Deborah Key's sister, said her family thinks that police have accused the right man in her sister's death. She said she is concerned that the controversy surrounding the confession has turned Dalzell into a sympathetic character.
Gagnon said even if Dalzell was deceived, it does not mean he did not commit murder.
"He has been portrayed as 'Oh, poor Andrew, he has been misled,' " she said. "The victim here is my sister. I am hopeful that a confessed murderer will not be given the opportunity to murder again. What will we say to the next victim's family? 'Oops, we messed up?' "
Friends and family of both Key and Dalzell have been trying to make sense of what happened in the early morning hours of Dec. 1, 1997, when they allegedly met outside of a Carrboro bar. According to police, Dalzell was the last person to be seen with Key. Police have said Dalzell confessed to killing Key and dumping her body in Wilmington.
Joy Preslar, a friend of Key's who knew of Dalzell, said it has taken a lot of "psychic and emotional energy" for her to understand why her friend was killed.
"It puts me in a difficult place because I want to be angry with him. But I feel sad for him. He is not a nameless, faceless fiend. He was a troubled child," she said. "Part of me wants to just throttle him. But part of me wants to understand. I have to understand why he did this."
Juanita Mullen wants to understand, too. She said she wants to understand how people could think her son is a murderer. When Dalzell came home in a panic saying that the police suspected him of murder, Mullen said she asked her son whether he killed Key. He said he didn't. That was all the explanation she needed.
If she had an indication that Dalzell killed Key, Mullen said, she would demand that he tell the truth and pay the price.
Mullen said Dalzell's most recent ordeal has tested her love for her son like never before. She said she still considers her son an answer to her prayers, though it is a blessing "I don't understand everything about."
Some family friends have stood by them throughout the case. Others questioned whether she did all she could to help her son.
"I could have thrown him out. The assumption is that he was going to straighten up and fly right. But he had no skills. What was I going to do," she said. "Go let him live out on Franklin Street?"
Mullen has not given up hope that her son will find his way. She said landing in prison was a wake-up call for him. She said he now realizes she is not going to "be there to hold his hand" for the rest of his life and is making contingency plans in case he is released.
Dalzell applied for a job, she said, that might be waiting for him if he gets out. He has again taken up the Episcopal faith and has hopes of moving away from Carrboro to make a fresh start.
But for now, Dalzell and his mother sit and wait, wondering whether his epiphany came too late.
Judge rules to suppress all statements made by Dalzell
Judge Barber ruled today that the confessions made by Andrew Dalzell to the murder of Deborah Key were unlawfully obtained by Carrboro police, that these statements were induced from Dalzell by "hope and fear" under the illusion that he was going to die, and that police engaged in "extreme deviation" from the law.
Ok, yes, I believe the police went to extremes in the arrest of Dalzell. But I think the Judge overreached when he implied that police conduct was akin to prison abuses at Abu Ghraib. Depriving a suspect of food and water for five hours is not torture. Nor do I believe, as Barber implied, that Detective Lau's 7 year history with Dalzell constituted an "obsession" with the suspect.
What would you have Lau do? If he weren't diligent and attentive to the case we would accuse the Carrboro police of being overpaid donut-eaters.
In his ruling, Judge Barber cited and complimented the work of our founding fathers for freeing us from the "European inquisitory process" of justice.
Maybe. But in the case of Mr. Dalzell, the rights of the individual are being put ahead of the rights of society. That may be the American way, but given that Dalzell has confessed to being a murderer, I'm not so sure I wouldn't prefer the European system at this very moment.
The evidence will now go to appeal
I took the day off today to observe the judge's ruling today on whether or not to suppress a confession made by accused, Andrew Dalzell in the murder of Deborah Key.
The hearing has adjourned until 2:30 pm, at which time Judge Wade Barber has stated he will make a decision. The morning heard opposing briefs by public defender James Williams and the Orange County D.A. Carl Fox.
Over the course of two hours, Williams seemed to have gotten the better of Fox. The D.A. seemed confused and off his game, at one point referring to the victim as Susan, Deborah's very much alive older sister.
William's arguments centered on the notion that the Carrboro police used deceit and trickery to coerce a confession out of Dalzell. At issue are three things; the police's use of a fake warrant, a fabricated letter written by Carrboro detective John Lau on Carl Fox' letter head in which Fox appears to state he would seek the death penalty against Dalzell, and the police's use of interrogation techniques before the accused was issued his Miranda rights.
Perhaps the most powerful statement came at the end of the morning when public defender Williams stated that the fabricated letter was "a gun, enabled by D.A. Fox, loaded by Lau and put to Dalzell's head" in order to obtain a confession.
Throughout the proceedings Dalzell sat unresponsive, using most of the time to read the briefs prepared by the two attorneys. Occasionally he listened very attentively to Judge Barber's questions. I don't know... at times he seemed passive and distant, other times he looked like a man sitting on a mountain of rage.
As one attorney stated to me leaving the court house, "the whole thing is a mess and neither attorney seems happy to be doing the jobs they have been assigned.
Yet, despite what some are considering to be a clear cut case of the accused being denied his basic rights, there may be a chance that some of the confession my not be suppressed. It appears that Dalzell confessed more than three times. First there was the "spontaneous utterance" at a gas station on the way to the police station, then one confession before he was given Miranda. But there apparently was a further confession, written by Dalzell on a computer some time after he had been given Miranda. Fox argued that this statement was not "fruit of a poisoned tree". In the end, the Judge may rule to have it both ways, ruling that the police overstepped their authority, while still allowing part of Dalzell's confession to stand.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
There is no statute of limitations on murder
I'm amazed there is a debate over the recent arrest of Edgar Ray Killen for murders that occured over 40 years ago. Take away the social issue of civil rights; it doesn't matter. If someone is guilty of these crimes and there is enough evidence to support a conviction, then he should be tried. If it were a hundred year old crime; the accused should be tried.
Justice overdue, or too late?
Reopening case of 3 civil rights killings reignites emotions
By Shelia Byrd
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. – Wilford Barrett, whose barbershop sits across the street from the county courthouse, thinks the 41-year-old slaying of three civil rights workers should stay where it is: in the past.
“It’s been so long ago,” he said. “I wouldn’t mess with it.”
The arrest of former Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen on Thursday in one of the most horrific crimes of the civil rights era was for some a satisfying culmination of a long-delayed hunt for justice.
But others here would rather forget the crime, along with the stain of violent racism it left on the town.
Killen, 79, and his wife, Betty Jo, have lived in the same house for 40 years and are familiar figures in the small, rural Mississippi town that became infamous with the 1964 slayings dramatized in the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning.”
James Chaney, a 21-year-old black Mississippian, and two white New Yorkers, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24, were ambushed by Klansmen, beaten and shot. Killen is the first to face state murder charges in their deaths.
Long a focus of suspicion, Killen made a livelihood from farming, operating a sawmill and preaching to a small congregation at Smyrna Baptist Church.
He’s old now – a tall, thin man with a balding head. He is being held in isolation at the Neshoba County Jail and pleaded not guilty Friday to three counts of murder.
County NAACP President Leroy Clemons said the arrest brings relief to a community haunted by the ghosts of the slain young men, and helps heal long-open wounds.
“There’s been a feeling of futility over the years about nothing being done,” said Stanley Dearman, the retired editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper, the Neshoba Democrat. “The case is just as current now as it was the night the murders were committed, legally and morally.”
But at Barrett’s Barbershop, Kenneth Wells snorts when asked whether he believes the preacher is a killer.
“He’s a preacher. He wouldn’t have done nothing like that. Everybody knows Edgar Ray Killen,” said Wells, a 64-year-old lifelong resident of Philadelphia.
According to FBI files and court transcripts, Killen not only participated in the crime, but did most, if not all, of the planning.
It was Schwerner the Klansmen were after, said Howard Ball, author of “Murder in Mississippi: United States v. Price and the Struggle for Civil Rights” and a University of Vermont political science professor.
The three were participating in Freedom Summer 1964 – an effort by hundreds of college students from the North to help educate and register blacks to vote in the South. Ball said Schwerner was targeted because he was a paid worker for the Congress of Racial Equality.
“The other two were killed simply because they were with Schwerner,” Ball said.
On the day of the crime, the workers were arrested and accused of speeding while driving to investigate the ruins of a black church that had been firebombed. Then they were released. Authorities said Killen organized the ambush while the men were being held by police.
Carlton Wallace Miller, at the time a Meridian police officer, testified in the federal trial in 1967 that the local Klan chapter wanted to beat Schwerner but was told by Killen “to leave him alone” and that “another unit was going to take care of him, that his elimination had been approved.”
Miller testified that Killen told the group that the approval to kill Schwerner came from then-Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers.
Nineteen men, including Killen, were indicted in the case. Seven were convicted of federal charges of violating the victims’ civil rights. None served more than six years.
Killen’s case ended in a hung jury.
“He never has apologized. He has continued to claim, against the mountain of evidence showing the reality, that he had nothing to do with this,” Ball said.
State Attorney General Jim Hood and District Attorney Mark Duncan said prosecutors will not discuss evidence in the case.
“If you create too much pretrial publicity, then you poison the potential jury pool,” Hood said this week.
Prosecutors hope to follow the trend of convictions in reopened civil rights cases – among them, Bowers, who was convicted in 1998 in the 1966 firebombing death of civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer. Prosecutors have also recently won convictions in the assassination of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers and the deadly bombing of a Birmingham church in 1963.
Gloria Browne-Marshall, a Manhattan attorney specializing in civil rights, said she finds troubling the idea that bad memories should stop civil rights cases from being reopened.
“The fact that this is a crime that deals with a social issue … makes us lean toward wanting some closure,” she said.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
It’s not my story, it’s my screwed up life
Victim meltdowns, and the need to stay together
I would like to offer up some thoughts on the completion of The Canadian Association for Victims Assistance (CAVA) inaugural conference last month in Richmond, British Columbia. As a board member of CAVA and co-planner of the event, I found the conference completely satisfying; the speakers enlightened me, the victims moved me, people listened and respected one another. As a victim, and thus, in many ways the subject matter of this meeting, I got more than I bargained for. For the first time in my life I was able to digest the full extend of the horrific, pathetic, cannibalistic process of my own victimization. After twenty-six years of suffering under the yoke of my sister’s murder, I would say it’s about time.
I think a flashpoint arrived when - upon the completion of the last workshop - a bunch of us got together to assess how we’d done, and what we could do next time to make it better. One of the victim service providers offered up the advice that in future she would like to be forewarned when a workshop is going to involve on oral presentation by victims because, in her words, “she didn’t like stories.” Having participated in one of these “hand-wringers” my gut reaction was, “Screw you... it’s not my story, it’s my fucking life.”
Then, in an instant, and for the first time in my life, I realized she was right. Victim testimonials are painful, haunting, gut-wrenching windows into the black-hole of human suffering. They are exhausting to tell, and, I imagine, even more exhausting to sit through if you are not personally acquainted with such loss and pain. As a representative from Justice Canada put it to me - a woman who is not a victim, and who had to endure one of these marathon sessions at a conference we both attended in Quebec – “it felt like the life was being sucked out of me.” That’s not being insensitive. It’s the truth. Not that we shouldn’t continue to have such workshops, but we should at least have the decency to warn people who come into the room that they are probably going to be exposed to trauma; the kind that will not allow them to construct any lessons or reasons to rationalize themselves out of box of what happens to people when they lose everything they’ve ever loved, and then continue to lose through random acts of thoughtlessness and alienation.
Why is this so important to me? Because for the past twenty-six years I’ve been a pretty angry guy. My anger manifests itself in a variety of ways, from nervous smiles to uncomfortable tics and twitches, to finally, full blown mean-spirited meltdowns. In the past I would have taken the comments of the victim service provider or the bureaucrat from the Federal government as excuses to lash-out with vindictive malice at the cruelty of their words; rationalizing that this was one more reason how “civilians” don’t understand how victims suffer. This would achieve the desired effect of emotional release, but I would quickly come round to feeling ashamed for my outburst, but unable to take back my words, thus further alienating myself. And the circle of my victimization would be complete, only to start up again with the next flash on the horizon that someone was treading a little too callously on my turf, and needed to be taught a lesson.
This Catherine-Wheel of suffering on my part must stop. In the past, I thought I was being clever without realizing that in the process of “speaking-out” I was not only chewing off my own foot, but in danger of swallowing myself whole.
Now on a cognitive level I’ve always known what was going on here. I got short-shafted. Some detestable moron who couldn’t control his passions took away my sister’s life. What followed after that event was a series of institutionalized traumas, political and bureaucratic game playing, cocktail faux-pas, mistakes, malaprops, black ironies - Indignities - stuff we wouldn’t even allow an animal to suffer, let alone human beings. Life screwed me, and I was going to screw it back. Homicide denies you control; I would take back that control through provocation. Fuck with me and I will give you the tongue lashing of your life; I control the destructive outcome, but in that process unwittingly continue to destroy myself.
So what’s wrong with that? Yes, it’s entirely shameful and regrettable, but I’m an adult, I’m only hurting myself, not society. Right? I don’t think so. Someone once told me after I had sent a series of blistering and cruel emails to an unwitting recipient “on the Hill” in Ottawa, that that recipient later “cried for John Allore”. My response was, “good, it’s about time”. But it’s not good. If the only thing I’ve learned from my experience is how to inflict hurt on others, then I’ve really learned nothing at all. If all I can create is a crash-sight of bombast and bile, I should pack it in and go home.
I don’t think I‘m a bad person. I’ve done good things for myself and other victims. I’ve done many excellent things in helping to bring victims together. But every once and a while I lapse back to patterned, destructive behavior that does not serve myself or others very well. I think for many of us, the nexus of such behavior begins, and can be remedied, at the point where the victim becomes the advocate.
In his recent book, Justice Defined, law professor and sometime victims’ rights advocate, Alan Young speaks of an editorial he wrote in 1995 in response to public outcry over a murder committed by a paroled offender,
"I wrote this editorial deliberately to stir a public outcry, but not one letter, one comment or one statement was ever made… Justice spending is a critical issue, yet when an absolute gem was delivered to all the critics out there, everyone was asleep. "
I know exactly how he feels. When I struggled for two years to prove to authorities that the police were wrong in concluding my sister Theresa had been on a path of self destruction that led to a drug overdose, but rather was murdered, and that act was society’s problem, not of her own making - and then when through a series of newspaper articles I publicly called attention to this problem - I rather naively assumed that my work would be over. Critics would take up my cause, and I would get back to my life.
Nothing happened. There was sympathy, a whole lot of people felt sorry for my family, but no one was so sorry as to be motivated to change anything. Victims allow themselves to be paraded out in front of the public through the media because they have a quaint idea that this act will invoke change. Typically, media exposure creates static inaction; the public is shocked and appalled, “there but for the grace of god go I”, but nothing happens - nothing but the further isolation, and victimization of the victim.
At this point the victim has two choices; get madder (more self-damage), or advocate. Advocacy for victims is the point of realization that no one out there is going to do the work for them, so they’d better do it themselves. It is a lonely place - I know, I’ve been there. But it can also be the source of tremendous power, if – and I think this is the key – victims do not advocate in isolation. There are too many of us out there taking up our grass root causes by ourselves. The system – and by this I mean anyone who is not a victim, but in some way works in the network that at some point touches or involves the victim – is too self absorbed to take up our causes. Some working in this network wish grass root initiatives to fail outright because they know if these initiatives succeed, the system will be forced to change. It is in the best interest of those who would want us to fail to marginalize us; by keeping us separate, and isolated, they can only hope that we will eventually become disillusioned, bitter, cynical, and ultimately burn ourselves out. For this reason it is imperative that victims begin to network and start to aid each other in their causes and advocacy.
Do not make the mistake of reading any militancy in my position; this is by no means a “we vs. them” mentality. As I’ve said, I’m going to set aside self-destructive behavior, I no longer wish to choose sides in a war, but I do wish to engage in a dialogue. If someone is motivated to act against me, let them concentrate on that, I will get down to the business at hand which is fundamentally networking. This may seem simple and obvious, but currently, no one is doing it.
I’ll show you how this works. At the conference in British Columbia was a woman named Judy Peterson. On August 2, 1993 Judy’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Lindsey went missing from Comox Valley, British Columbia. She vanished. In Judy’s words, “she literally disappeared from the planet.” Horrible. I cannot even imagine the level of that suffering. But Judy doesn’t want my sorrow, she wants me to do something about it. Judy is advocating for the creation of a national missing persons DNA data bank (yes, it’s hard to believe, though the technology is easy to do, such a thing does not exist in Canada). She wants people to write letters to the Federal minister of public safety and advocate for this change.
Here’s the bad news. Judy’s presentation takes place in the ballroom of the Richmond Marriot hotel. Though the room holds one hundred, only twenty people bothered to show up for her workshop. To make matters worse, she’s speaking on a panel of three presenters, all highlighting there individual projects, so possibly only ten people – at best – are interested in what she’s saying. Now, the good news. What Judy doesn’t know is one of the presenters is a man named Pierre Boisvenu. Pierre is from Quebec where he has rallied victims and created an organization to help families whose children are missing or murdered. Further, one of the members of Pierre’s group is Michel Surprenant. Michel’s daughter, Julie Surprenant has been missing from Terrebonne, Quebec since November 16th, 1999, presumed to have been murdered by an incarcerated sex offender named Richard Bouillon. Judy Peterson and Michel Surprenant have never heard of each other; the conference provides the conduit that will become their shared advocacy, one that will have more power because it has the combined muscle of British Columbia and Quebec, two provinces with political clout.
This form of networking is so basic, even children on a playground engage in it. Yet, strangely enough, up until the CAVA conference in British Columbia, it wasn’t happening. I have attended four victims’ conferences in Canada over the last thirteen months. At the Quebec conference in October sponsored by that province’s Plaidoyer de Victimes, I met ten victims. There may have been more - I am not francophone, so somewhat handicapped by a language barrier - but I met ten. The conference was mostly professional in nature; though I was grateful to have been invited, there was no real forum for the exchange of ideas between victims. There was a “story-telling” session from victims, but other than providing a narrative of suffering and some cathartic release, very little was achieved in that session and it soon broke down into veiled threats and finger-pointing.
At a June conference sponsored by British Columbia’s Police Victim Services in Vancouver – one where I was invited to present “my story” - I met no victims. Again my oral presentation produced the expected response of shock and awe. Did it change anything? No. Then, of course, there was last year’s National victims conference held in Ottawa, sponsored by Justice Canada’s Policy Center for Victims Issues. In Ottawa, there were some victims, but most were in the employ or under the influence of government agencies; I would categorize the opinions and motivations of some of these victims as “compromised”. The most influential victim I met in Ottawa was Pierre Boisvenu, but the conference did not “broker” this relationship. Like me, Pierre came in protest; we communicated in advance of the conference and decided to attend to voice our complaint that not enough victims had been notified of this national affair whose title and theme was after all, Lessons Learned from Victims of Crime.
Why do associations, when they come together, choose to exclude those that form the foundation of their work? I don’t know; but it’s not unique to this issue. A conference on criminology would never dare invite criminals. Dentists don’t invite patients. Last month, a world-wide conference on education was being held in Vancouver with 3,500 participants – do you think any of them were students? I’m not blaming anyone, I do it myself. In my professional life I am basically a bureaucrat. I work in municipal government finance. Twice a year we hold a conference to discuss how to best manage the investment of public funds. Do you think we invite the public? Hell no! We don’t want citizens telling us how to do our jobs!. Besides, if they came we might actually have to reverse the status quo.
This is absurd, and true. Is it any wonder I come away from these meetings having discovered how to do things easier, or faster, but rarely learning how to make things better? Conferences may lead to the exchange of information, but I question whether they spark innovation. For innovation to occur you have to have participants that want change.
Connecting Judy Peterson to Michel Surprenant can spark change. Any citizen of Canada can write a letter in support of the national missing persons DNA data bank, but a victim is more likely to do it because they have something invested in the issue. Michel Surprenant is more likely to support Judy Peterson because he has “skin in the game”. They are not separated by issues of territorialism, governmental procedures, or culture. They don’t speak the same language, they don’t even know each other, but Judy Peterson and Michel Surprenant will help each other because they both have the same thing at stake – finding their lost daughters.
This kind of connecting - a networking I had never observed before - was precisely what I saw unfold on a continual and energetic basis at the Canadian Association for Victim Assistance conference. For the first time in my experience victims met, talked, exchanged ideas, were motivated by their common causes, and in some cases, agreed to advance those causes further when the conference had ended. In all there were 20 victims – I’m sure there were more, but I didn’t meet them; still not enough, but a start. I remember every one of them, where they were from, and the losses they have suffered:
Ernie Kray and Maggie de Vries and a woman named Val lost siblings in Port Coquitlam. The Petersons whose daughter, Lindsey is missing, and Keith Kemp who lost a son and who spoke of the burnout. Celine Lee who lost her mother and sister, and Jean Cusworth and her husband whose daughter was murdered. All from Vancouver. The Kings whose daughter was murdered in Edmonton, and Hazel Magnussen who lost her brother, Doug in Alberta. There was Arthur Lepp and Shelley Marshall who lost sons in Manitoba; and Holly Desimone who was raped, also from the west. Priscilla de Villiers daughter, Nina was murdered in Toronto. Catherine Bergeron lost a sister on December 6th, 1989. Pierre and Diane Boisvenu whose daughter, Julie was murdered in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
What I observed transpire over those two days gave me real encouragement for the future of victims in Canada. I saw people meeting, laughing, bonding, agreeing to stay in touch and help each other. I saw a guy from Sherbrooke look at the minister of justice from Manitoba and say, “we need a guy like that in Quebec”. I saw folks from Alberta and B.C. exchanging ideas on how to solve cold cases.
Look, I know this won’t always work. There will be causes we can take on and others we will prefer to stay away from. But we can agree to support each other. Can’t victims from across Canada, at the very least, agree to support the interests of the victims from Port Coquitlam in the coming months? Can’t we say, as victims, “we are watching the situation in B.C., and if you don’t protect and help those people, we will know, and we will act as one.”? This is simple.
The question I believe I need to ask myself - and I think all victims need to ask this of themselves, when they are ready and on a very clear and selfless plane - is, OK, I’ve suffered, maybe I’m still suffering… now what do I want to do with this suffering? For me, I will continue to network with victims and try to help them further their advocacy interests. If victims continue to communicate and help each other, if we help ourselves and are not beholden to the assistance of others, we will be powerful and our needs will be met.