Carolyn Solomon, a mother of two from Sudbury, Ontario, travelled 1,500 kilometres, past razor-wire topped steel fences and gun-toting watchtower guards, into the bowels of a federal penitentiary, to confront the man who murdered her son. Why did she do it? What did the killer say when Solomon looked into his eyes and demanded to know why he shot her son? Solomon explains in The Mother and the Murderer, Episode 8 of the Cancrime podcast (after the jump).
Canada’s worst rapist, a serial predator who may have assaulted more than 1,000 women, is free from prison and one of the investigators who caught him is certain he’ll strike again. But Selva Subbiah, 56, (inset) should not pose a threat in Canada. He’s being deported to his native Malaysia. Subbiah was caught more than 25 years ago because of the dogged work of police investigators who amassed a mountain of evidence that sent him to prison for nearly a quarter century. His penitentiary sentence in Canada expired January 29, 2017. Subbiah is an unrepentant manipulator and liar who insists that he presents “zero risk” to reoffend. Experts who have examined him conclude that he poses a high risk to commit more, violent sex crimes, despite treatment he’s undergone while behind bars. He was repeatedly denied parole because of the undiminished danger he poses. Subbiah was caught in 1991 by Brian Thomson and Peter Duggan, investigators in the Toronto police department. In the podcast (after the jump), Thomson recounts in detail how he and his partner ensnared Subbiah with an undercover operation and located a trove of evidence that was key to Subbiah’s conviction and lengthy sentence.
(UPDATE – Feb. 1, 2017: As expected, Subbiah was ordered deported after an immigration and refugee board hearing.)
(SECOND UPDATE – Feb. 7, 2017: As I tweeted yesterday, Subbiah was flown to Malaysia, under guard, on Feb. 6)
Is 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.
Police in Quebec have long been among the worst* in Canada at solving murders. Now, one man – bolstered by decades of meticulous research – is challenging this futility with a demand for an inquiry and the formation of a cross-departmental, province-wide cold case squad. John Allore charges that Quebec police are “completely incompetent.” He knows this, he says, because of his dogged research into more than 20 unsolved killings from the 1970s and 80s, including the murder of his 19-year-old sister Theresa. Allore says police deliberately refused to investigate those cases, so he did. Allore uncovered glaring failures in the investigation of Theresa’s November 1978 murder in a small community 150 kilometres east of Montreal. Police wrongly first labelled her death an accident or suicide, fumbled the search for missing clothing and possessions and later discarded important physical evidence that could help identify her killer. More than 37 years after Theresa was killed, the unsolved murder has just been added to the website of the Quebec provincial police force’s cold case unit, thanks to John Allore’s persistence. But he’s not done. Allore (hear him in the Cancrime podcast, after the jump) is pressing for co-operation among departments with unsolved cases that could be connected. His remarkable research and sharp criticism have attracted the attention of senior police officials in Quebec and given hope to families of other victims.
There may be 3,500 psychopaths behind bars in Canada’s prisons, roughly one quarter the male penitentiary population, according to researchers. They are conscienceless predators and manipulators driven only by a desire for self-gratification. Until recently, Don Gazley (inset) was among them. Gazley (listen to him, after the jump, in manipulation mode, in Episode 4 of the Cancrime podcast) has a two-decade history of sex crimes and involvement in a murder. He’s been diagnosed a “classic psychopath” who poses a high risk to commit new sex crimes. Yet Gazley was released in early January from a penitentiary in British Columbia, in part, because the top legal official in Ontario, where he was last sentenced, chose not to seek to keep him locked up forever through a dangerous offender designation. Gazley’s treatment by the criminal justice system isn’t unusual. A Canadian expert on psychopaths, forensic psychologist Stephen Porter, says the system must take psychopathy “much more seriously.” His research reveals that, although psychopathy is one of the most powerful predictors of criminal recidivism, psychopaths win conditional release 2.5 times more often than non psychopaths.
Despite an enormous infusion of cash in the past decade, the agency that runs the country’s penitentiaries has failed to deliver on longstanding promises to reduce prisoner deaths and has failed to limit critical security incidents that endanger staff and inmates, a newly released report card on the operations of Correctional Service of Canada reveals. “I continue to be very frustrated that CSC continues to deal with deaths in custody as sort of one-off events and not paying enough attention to the patterns and the common issues that contribute,” says Howard Sapers (inset), the federal correctional investigator. (Hear the full interview with Sapers, after the jump, in Episode 1 of the Cancrime podcast).
Robin Marc Smith (inset, 2007 booking photo) had a 30-year career as a Grinch – and he was remarkably good at it – so it’s surprising to see him don a Santa hat so that he can break, enter and give. Smith organized a charity event in a small eastern Ontario town in which a band of holiday ‘bandits’ broke into the house of a needy family. The group of about a dozen people knew the single mom wasn’t home because she had taken her two young children to visit a mall Santa. The group left gifts and $500 cash behind and no clue to their identity. Local media around Tweed, a small village 200 kilometres east of Toronto, reported the feel-good story but with no mention of Smith’s infamous past. Smith tells me (hear the full interview after the jump), that everyone in the Tweed area knows about his past.
Criminal defence lawyers Michael Edelson and his partner Vince Clifford took extraordinary precautions in the handling of the sensational sex-murder case of Russell Williams. I had a chance to interview the veteran Ottawa lawyers who defended Williams, the former airbase commander who pleaded guilty to raping and murdering two women. The revelations from the lawyers form the core of a feature story that I wrote for Canadian Lawyer magazine.