Category: Police

Witness to murder: “I will always blame myself”

This post includes a podcastHeather FraserIs a witness to evil, who does not intervene, culpable or guilty only of cowardice? Annette Rogers has been to this precipice. Her scarred conscience reflects her failure. She did not do the difficult thing, the right thing. If Rogers had, 16-year-old Heather Fraser (inset) might have survived her encounter with a killer. Fraser was raped and stabbed by James Harold Giff on a cold Monday evening, January 28, 1985, in Smiths Falls, a small town in eastern Ontario on the historic Rideau waterway. Rogers was Giff’s girlfriend at the time. For nearly 25 years, she kept a terrible secret about the murder, until she spoke to me in 2009 (the podcast, after the jump, features her interview). Rogers revealed that she was taken by Giff on the night of the murder – in an act that would forever bind her to that night’s horror – to the snowy park where he had left his victim after raping her and stabbing her twice. Heather wasn’t dead. Bleeding profusely, she was crawling on her hands and knees through nearly two foot deep snow toward a nearby street. Rogers says she heard – but could not see in the dark – Heather’s faint cries for help. Rogers did not do the right thing. She did not run to Heather’s aid, or call police or for an ambulance.  She agreed with Giff’s demand for silence, and assistance. She became, for a time, an accomplice. Heather was found hours after she was attacked and was rushed to hospital where she later died. Rogers says her inaction stemmed from fear that Giff would kill her. He had threatened her many times in their abusive relationship, she says. After Giff was jailed for Heather’s murder, Giff warned Rogers that he would hunt her down after release and kill her. This lingering threat has driven Rogers, in an act of self flagellation, to attend every one of Giff’s parole hearings, to listen over and over again to the sordid details of his crimes, and to plead with authorities not to free him. Giff was granted day parole to a halfway house in Montreal in January 2015, but nine months later, his release was suspended, then reinstated. Corrections Canada, which was responsible for supervising Giff’s freedom, refused, at the time, to disclose why Giff’s parole was suspended. Recently, the Parole Board of Canada released documents (read them after the jump) that reveal Giff had a “change of attitude” that sparked concern.


NOTE: This is an updated version of a story first published in 2009. It includes new information, new documents and a new podcast that includes portions of my recorded interview with Annette Rogers not previously released.

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The police report the Shafia jurors did not see

When a small black Nissan Sentra was found submerged in a shallow canal in eastern Ontario on June 30, 2009 with four dead females inside – members of the Shafia family – investigators had one critical question: Was it a freak accident or a heinous murder? Key to teasing out the answer was a meticulous analysis of the Nissan, another Shafia vehicle – a Lexus SUV – and the scene at the canal. Constable Chris Prent, a provincial police officer and collision reconstruction expert, produced a detailed 94-page document. In it, Prent revealed his conclusion: The Nissan was deliberately pushed into the canal by someone operating the Lexus. This theory was the centrepiece of the criminal case that saw three members of the Shafia family – Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya, and their son Hamed – each convicted by a jury of four counts of first-degree murder. Constable Prent’s 94-page document, titled An Analysis of the Events at Kingston Mills Locks (Rideau Canal), City of Kingston – was not given to the jurors. The 12 people who decided that the Shafias were guilty of mass murder did not see the document.

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Firearms kill most police officers who die on duty

The death of a Toronto police officer today, Sgt. Ryan Russell, 35, who was apparently run down by a crazed driver in a stolen snowplow, is a shocking, but relatively rare event. Statistics Canada figures (docs after the jump) on the deaths of police officers in the line of duty show that only a few are killed on the job, 125 in a 40-year span, and roughly nine out of every 10 police officers killed while on duty died at the hands of an assailant with a gun. Taxi driving is the most dangerous occupation in Canada, in terms of the risk of being murdered on the job.

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Cops in Kingston, Ont. named Canada’s top crime-solvers

Canada’s penitentiary capital, home to some of the country’s vilest (incarcerated) citizens, is now home to the nation’s top crime busters, according to Statistics Canada. The national number crunching agency has released its annual report (full doc after the jump) that tracks the size, spending and crime-solving prowess of all of the country’s police departments. The municipal police service in Kingston, Ontario, population roughly 120,000, solved 47.8% of the roughly 7,300 crimes reported in 2009, according to StatsCan. This means that they can boast that they’re number 1 among big city police departments.

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Police release buyer’s price guide for street drugs

What’s an 8-ball of crack cocaine fetch on the street in Toronto these days? Or how about a gram of marijuana? What about a pound of heroin? The Mounties have the answers. Provincial police released an RCMP price list (read full list after the jump) this week, a guidebook to the cost of illicit dope in the Toronto area. The list shows, for example, that methadone and heroin are among the priciest street drugs, worth roughly $100,000 per kilogram.

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Man brings Easter treats to court – cocaine, marijuana

It’s probably not a good idea to take your cocaine to court with you, or your cute little pot-filled Easter eggs, either. I’ll let the news release from the Kingston city police department ‘splain the rest. Read it after the jump.

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The case of the polite parole violator

See all posts about dumb crooks and kooky crimesIn the dead of winter, when you’re three sheets to the wind, tired and far from home, a police station can look like an inviting crash pad, particularly if you’re a man of limited means. That might be the explanation for the bizarre behaviour of a paroled federal prisoner who showed up at the HQ of the constabulary in the Friendly City, as Belleville, in eastern Ontario, is known. Police noted, dryly, that:

At approx 4 a.m. an extremely intoxicated male attended the front desk of the police station advising that he was breaching his parole conditions and proceed (sic) to list all of the conditions being breached

While it clearly wasn’t a hot crime story, someone at the Belleville PD with a wry sense of humour thought to put the story out in a release (read it after the jump).

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Names of 4 victims in submerged car released

Late tonight, Kingston Police released the names of three teenage sisters and a woman found dead on June 30 in a submerged car in Kingston Mills, a lock station on the Rideau Canal at Kingston, Ontario. The victims are:

  • Zainab Shafia, 19
  • Sahar Shafia, 17
  • Geeti Shafia, 13
  • Rona Amir Mohammed, 50

All are from Saint Leonard, Quebec, a borough in the north end of Montreal. Kingston Police have said Mohammed is a relative but they won’t confirm reports that she is an aunt of the girls.

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