Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, so when a child is murdered, an unnatural order possesses a family. The Fraser family is finally free of it. Thirty-two years ago, Ian Fraser (inset) found his mortally wounded 16-year-old daughter Heather on her hands and knees in a snowy park on a cold January evening in Smiths Falls, a small town in eastern Ontario. Heather had been raped and stabbed. Soaked in blood, she was crawling through snowdrifts, trying to reach a nearby road when Ian Fraser, searching, spotted a shape in the park. When the father held his first-born child, she uttered just one word: “Stabbed.” Hours later, Heather died in hospital. Last month, on May 10, 2017, Ian Fraser died at the age of 88. We must hope that death extinguished the anguish he endured for three decades. His wife Carolyn, Heather’s mother, died in 2014.
Killer James Giff convinced the parole board he’s not a threat to reoffend if given the least restrictive form of freedom from prison but, in an unusual step, the board barred the murderer from accessing social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Giff, who raped and stabbed a 16-year-old girl, then left her to die in a snowbank, was granted full parole, a form of early release from penitentiary that permits him to live on his own, without direct daily supervision. It’s a big step for a criminal once classified as a sadist, and who spent most of the past 30 years behind bars. The parole board decided, after a hearing July 7, that Giff won’t present an “undue risk to society” but it imposed several special conditions on his full parole (read them all in the parole document, after the jump). Giff has been living and working in Montreal.
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.
Dread has stalked Annette Rogers for 30 years, since her abusive former boyfriend, Jamie Giff (inset), first threatened to kill her in 1985. “I’m scared of him,” she says, her voice trembling. “I don’t care what anybody says.” Giff is a killer. He raped and stabbed to death a teenage girl in 1985. For the past three decades, Rogers fought, but ultimately failed, to keep him behind bars. She was horrified when she learned recently that Giff, free on parole, had done something that so alarmed his supervisor that he was taken into custody and his parole suspended. When he was freed a month later and his parole was reinstated, authorities cited privacy laws and refused to tell anyone, including Rogers, what happened. “So I sat here, vibrating, didn’t know what to do,” she says.
James Giff (inset), an imprisoned killer who raped and stabbed a 16-year-old girl, leaving her dying in a snowbank, has been granted permission to leave prison with no supervision. Giff, who was diagnosed as a sadist – someone who derives sexual pleasure from inflicting pain – was granted unescorted passes that will permit him to leave prison for short periods of time. The decision was made at a parole hearing held in Quebec, where Giff is serving his life sentence. He has been in prison since 1985, when he killed Heather Fraser, a popular high school student in Smiths Falls, a small community in eastern Ontario.
James Giff (inset), an imprisoned killer who raped and stabbed to death a 16-year-old Smiths Falls girl 25 years ago, made a dramatic admission during a parole hearing this week. “He finally admitted that he gets aroused by the combination of violence and sex,” said Heidi Illingworth, who attended the hearing Wednesday at minimum-security Pittsburgh Institution in Kingston.
from left, rapist-murderer James Giff (learning to be a chef in prison), victim Heather Fraser and his intended victim, Annette Rogers
There is a question James Giff has refused to answer publicly for a quarter of a century.
Why did he rape and stab to death a 16-year-old girl he did not know?
“It was rage, it had nothing to do with Heather,” says Giff, sitting in a bland, bathroom-sized interview room at minimum-security Pittsburgh Institution on Hwy. 15 in Kingston.
It’s the first time Giff, who did not testify at his trial, has spoken publicly about the murder he committed when he was 17.
A shaggy-haired teen has become a pudgy, middle-aged prisoner.