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Mothers speak at News Café Thursday on impact of violent crime

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They are three women who share a horrific common bond -- their young daughters were all abducted and murdered in random attacks which made headlines across the country.

Now these grieving mothers have gathered in Winnipeg to discuss their loss, the supports and services which they utilized and other aspects of their high-profile cases.

Wilma Derksen, Lesley Parrott and Priscilla de Villiers and will appear at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café Thursday at 10 a.m. for an intimate and interactive public forum. The event is open to the public, and seating is on a first-come basis.

Free Press columnist Lindor Reynolds will mediate the forum. The three mothers will discuss the impact of losing a child and the state of services for the victims of crime.

The trio will then participate Thursday at 7 p.m. in a formal panel discussion called "Mothers x 3" at the Inn at the Forks. The event is hosted by the Pay Forward Project and tickets are available for $10. Call 204-925-3410 or email

Derksen’s 13-year-old daughter, Candace, vanished in November 1984 while walking home from her Winnipeg school, triggering the biggest public search in city history. Her body was found inside a storage shed in January 1985. Candace’s killing would remain unsolved for more than two decades until advancements in forensic sciences and DNA analysis led police to convicted sex offender Mark Grant. He was eventually convicted of the murder in 2011 and is now serving a life sentence. Grant’s appeal of the verdict is set to be heard next month.

Parrott’s 11-year-old daughter, Alison, vanished from her Toronto-area home in July 1986 after receiving a phone call to meet someone for a photo shoot connected to a sports team she was on. Her body was found two days later in a densely wooded area. She had been raped and strangled. Francis Roy, a career criminal with an extensive history of sex-related attacks on young victims, was arrested a decade later and ultimately convicted of first-degree murder.

De Villiers’ 19-year-old daughter, Nina, was abducted and killed in August 1991 while jogging in Burlington, Ontario. Her attacker was Jonathan Yeo, a man with an extensive criminal history who was out on bail at the time. He committed suicide before he could be put on trial. De Villiers went on to found CAVEAT, a national organization advocating for change in government policy on crime.

"Quite a few years ago we visited together in Toronto and spent a wonderful day together, realizing the similarities of our cases while sharing wisdoms of how to get through it," said Derksen. "These women are special. I tribute Priscilla with many of the significant changes that have been made regarding victims rights over the years. Lesley came with the emotional understanding of grief and how to turn our emotional chaos into something positive through her understanding of resilience."

Derksen said the timing of the public forums is crucial, considering Winnipeg is currently known as the murder and violent crime capital of Canada. She said they will discuss various aspects of their cases including their thoughts towards the killers, the media’s role in covering the incidents, what they do to feel safe and what changes are needed in the criminal justice system.


Updated on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 4:57 PM CDT: updates with full writethru

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