We may never know exactly how many times Melissa Ann Shephard (inset) has killed. In a criminal career that spans five decades, Shephard has sown confusion, obfuscated with layers of lies and masqueraded as a victim. The criminal justice system, unable to affix the damning labels she may deserve – serial killer, psychopath – continues to turn her loose to kill again and struggles to contain her. She has learned from her criminal mistakes and profited from her predation. Infamous as the ‘Internet Black Widow,’ Shephard was released Friday (March 18, 2016) from a women’s prison in Nova Scotia – amid a police warning – after her latest stint behind bars, a three-and-a-half year sentence. It was imposed in 2013 after she admitting spiking drinks of her newlywed fifth husband, 74-year-old Fred Weeks, with potent tranquilizers. An attempted murder charge was dropped when Shephard pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Two of Shephard’s four husbands who preceded Weeks ended up dead and another mysteriously fell ill immediately after meeting Shephard. Recent prison assessments (read what experts say, in internal documents after the jump) warn that Shephard scores high for some psychopathic traits, she is resistant to treatment and indifferent to the suffering of her victims. The only thing that has contained her lethal greed in the past 40+ years has been time behind bars and yet, the system has refused to apply the brand that could keep her locked up.
Canadians spent $2.5 billion last year to operate the country’s penitentiary system, so you’d expect they’d be entitled to timely information about how it’s functioning. They’re not getting it. A key report on the operation of Correctional Service of Canada was suppressed by the previous Conservative regime and was withheld from public release by the new Liberal government for five months. The annual report of correctional investigator Howard Sapers, an ombudsman who is mandated by law to investigate prisoner complaints, was released publicly yesterday (March 10), nine months after Sapers gave it to Conservative Public Safety Minster Steven Blaney.
Psychopath and sex predator Don Gazley – who is profiled in Episode 4 of the podcast – is back behind bars, weeks after he was released from a federal institution in British Columbia, Cancrime learned. “Don Gazley is currently in custody at a federal institution,” Jean-Paul Lorieau, a B.C.-based spokesman for Correctional Service of Canada told me today (March 10). Lorieau won’t say why Gazley’s release was revoked. Gazley was deemed a high risk to commit new sex crimes against children so he was kept locked up until he had served every day of his last sentence, an eight-year term for sex crimes committed in Ontario.
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.
The three convicted Shafia family killers want new trials and Hamed Shafia, the youngest of the trio, wants to be retried or, at least, re-sentenced, as a youth. A panel of judges of Ontario’s top court is grappling with these demands following a two-day hearing this week in Toronto at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The judges reserved judgment. There’s no timetable for a decision from the court. I think it’s unlikely the Shafias will be successful, on any of their grounds, because, as with some of their outlandish claims during their murder trial, they just can’t be believed.
Confused by the claim of the Shafia family that Hamed, one of the three convicted mass murderers, wasn’t 18 at the time of the killings, in June 2009? The surprising claim, which I have written about several times, and which will go before Ontario’s top court March 3-4, 2016, in Toronto, has left many people shaking their heads. To help explain it, I’ve created a short video (watch it after the jump), complete with a visual aid. I guarantee you’ll come away with a clearer understanding of the claims and, you might be left with a firmer feeling about whether you believe them.
John Gallienne (inset), a pedophile who exploited his trusted position as choirmaster and organist at Anglican churches across Canada to prey on young boys sexually, has been charged again with abuse committed decades ago. Now 71, Gallienne is charged with three counts of indecent assault on a boy in Kingston, Ontario between 1975 and 1978, when the victim was 10 to 12 years old, according to this story by reporter Sue Yanagisawa. It’s not surprising that another victim has come forward now, years later, and more charges have been filed. Gallienne has been affiliated with at least four churches across Canada, including Ottawa and Victoria, B.C. Past convictions have established that he was an insatiable predator with many victims. It is possible that there remain hundreds of victims who have never reported the abuse to police. Several of his Ontario victims committed suicide. There is no statute of limitations in Canada for reporting sexual assault and national surveys suggest most abuse is never reported to police.
Convicted multiple murderer Hamed Shafia has filed documents with Ontario’s top court in a bid to establish that he was unfairly tried as an adult in the sensational 2009 honour killing case. The exact contents of the application to admit fresh evidence, filed Feb. 19, aren’t yet known. It’s being kept secret by the Court of Appeal for Ontario until a hearing is held on March 3-4 at the court in Toronto but, as I reported previously, a secret hearing was held in Kingston, Ontario last October, at which his father and co-accused, Mohammad Shafia, testified that newly obtained documents show that Hamed was not 18 at the time of the murders on June 30, 2009. Hamed must convince Ontario’s top court to permit him to introduce evidence of the age discrepancy. He claims that his birthdate is December 31, 1991, and not 1990 as first believed. Next week’s hearing also will consider the broader arguments of all three convicted family members. Mohammad Shafia, 62, his wife Tooba, 46, and their son Hamed, were each convicted of four counts of first-degree murder but they have appealed, claiming that their trial was unfair because of “overwhelmingly prejudicial evidence” and “cultural stereotyping.”
Pedophile James Alfred Cooper (inset) knew that he was being watched closely while he was out of prison on early release. Yet he still schemed to procure children while he was free in 2014. The depth of Cooper’s deviousness is detailed in the internal parole records (read them after the jump) of the Ontario man who tortured and raped children. Cooper was convicted only of 16 crimes involving six children over a span of 17 years but it is likely there are other victims. Most predatory pedophiles do not abuse just a handful of victims. The six victims for whom convictions were registered were aged seven to 14 at the time of the abuse that included whippings and beatings and forced sex including intercourse. Five of them, four girls and one boy, were his stepchildren from two of his marriages. One was a neighbour’s daughter.
When they found six-year-old Michael Kent (inset), he was motionless, lying face down in the muddy snow on the west side of the parking lot of the arena in Elmvale, a small community 120 kilometres north of Toronto. The fair-haired boy, one of five Kent siblings, was still wearing his navy blue and white tuque and his navy blue ski jacket but it was now covered with mud and blood. Michael had been stabbed seven times, four times in the abdomen and three times in the back. There was no indication he had been sexually assaulted. Police later surmised that the small boy’s face had been held down in the mud while he was killed on that winter day, February 11, 1966. A half century later, Michael’s murder remains unsolved.