Mike on Crime

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  • Graduation of chronic teen car thief a happy occasion - for public

    Gene Soldat just had his graduation on Thursday - but something tells me he isn't exactly celebrating.The chronic car thief - considered to be one of the worst in the city - just got an adult-sized dose of punishment after being raised from youth court.Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen likely won a few supporters in the community when she rejected Soldat's plea for leniency and handed down a five-year prison term.Simonsen says she hopes other young criminals take notice.Her decision comes just days after the city's latest tragic case of auto theft, in which an innocent cab driver was killed after a speeding, stolen vehicle filled with youths ran a red light.Soldat has been a potential time bomb every time he's on the streets.He racked up a staggering 82 youth convictions over the past six years, nearly all for stealing cars and putting public safety at risk.Yet under the weak-kneed Youth Criminal Justice Act, Soldat's prior stints in jail were short and likely pretty sweet.His most recent crime spree in 2006 involved a string of car thefts, capped up by a high-speed police chase in which he drove over boulevards, ran stop signs and red lights and drove into oncoming traffic while going more than 30 km/h over the speed limit.Anyone in his path could have been killed.Soldat went on this rampage just days after escaping from a youth jail, where he was supposed to be serving a brief period of custody for similar offences.Soldat's lawyer has consented to the Crown's move to have him raised to adult court. That opened the door for his name to be made public for the first time, along with his previous criminal history.Now, we're likely fooling ourselves if we think Soldat will come out of jail in a few years a changed man. That's probably wishful thinking.But if nothing else, his prison stint means there's one less maniac on the road we have to worry about for a while.Soldat's has already left a trail of destruction behind, making headlines last year when Manitoba Public Insurance obtained a $110,000 judgment against him following one of the city's worst property crime sprees in recent history that involved several other young co-accused.In just the span of a few weeks beginning in late 2004, the boys were responsible for stealing five cars -- three of which were written off -- and damaging 38 others, including a police car that was destroyed in a high-speed crash.They also sent one car smashing through the window of an empty River Heights apartment block by pinning down the accelerator with a brick -- an incident the building realtor described as an act of “terrorism.” A resident ended up trapped in the rubble of his own washroom when the roof collapsed.Soldat and his crew also sent another car into a house, startling the sleeping resident and causing extensive damage.The group also left numerous senior citizens in tears by targeting an underground parking lot in North Kildonan for most of their senseless acts of vandalism on Boxing Day 2004.Soldat, who court was told acted as “ringleader” for all the destruction, received a total of one year in jail and six months of probation for his involvement. His younger co-accused received shorter stints behind bars.It was while still serving that sentence in 2006 that Soldat reoffended for the crimes he was now sentenced on. He'd been granted a temporary absence from the youth jail so he could work during the days but return at night.Soldat was gone within three days.Kudos to Justice Simonsen for not buying Soldat's "I promise to change" tale and dishing out some substantial punishment.Let's hope it's a sign of more to come from our justice system.Got a thought? Post it below.
  • A half-hour of hell, heroes

    Short of having a small plane go down in the middle of Winnipeg, it would be almost unheard to face a situation where 12 people are killed, dying and/or seriously injured in the span of just a few minutes.Yet while most of the city slept, this nightmarish scenario was unfolding early Saturday morning when two horrific crimes occurred at almost the exact same time - a speeding stolen vehicle filled with youths slams into a cab (click HERE to read), and six people are mowed down by gunfire inside an inner-city home (click HERE to read).Having now listened to the audio transmissions between Winnipeg police, fire and paramedics - and their respective dispatchers - I think the public ought to know how poised and professional everyone acted.Not to mention the staff at several city hospitals which were forced to accomodate a sudden influx of patients.Let me take you through the half-hour of hell. (The following is a summary - in chronological order - of of approximately 30 minutes of an extremely chaotic situation)3:30 a.m. - The first 911 call comes in, reporting a motor vehicle accident at Portage and Maryland. Initial information suggests one victim, possibly hit by a vehicle, and likely with no pulse. Police, fire and ambulance are dispatched.984-portage-3.jpg - Police arrive on scene within seconds and immediately discover a gruesome scene. It's now confirmed there's been a rollover, with multiple victims.- The first ambulance arrives, calling for additional help as at least two patients are critical. Another ambulance is dispatched, along with a unit for extrication.- Dispatcher confirms the Health Sciences Centre is able to take two critical patients at the same time.- Paramedic supervisor says two more victims have been found in the wreckage. At least two more ambulances are dispatched.- Call for another ambulance. Inquiries are made about sending less critical patients to the St. Boniface Hospital. The Children's Hospital is also contacted, as at least some of the victims are youths.- Two more patients - one unstable, another stable - are discovered.(Other 911 calls continue to flood in at this time, including a suspected drunk driver who's slammed his car into a hydro tower, then fled into the nearby woods, leaving a trail of blood behind)- The first crash victim is transported, believed to be the taxi driver who will be pronounced dead at hospital after a speeding stolen SUV ran a red light, slammed into his vehicle and sent both cars rolling.Approx. 3:50 a.m. - With the city's fleet of ambulances nearly drained, about the worst thing that can happen does - a 911 call comes in, reporting a shooting on Alexander Avenue. Initial reports suggest one victim. A fire and a paramedic unit are dispatched but told to use caution until police arrive on scene.- Police are quickly on scene on Alexander - and reporting "multiple gunshot victims". Another ambulance is sent. The dispatcher who's been handling both incidents remains calm, cool and collected.- Two youths are transported to Children's hospital from the car crash - one stable, one unstable.- Two more youths are taken to hospital from the crash. Both are stable. Dispatcher says both will have to be taken to a more outlying hospital such as the Grace because resources are being stretched thin.- Paramedics on Alexander report one shooting victim with no pulse, not breathing. A second victim has been shot in the face and also has no pulse. Another ambulance is dispatched, although the dispatcher admits they are facing a numbers crunch.- The dispatcher reports the Health Sciences Centre can accept the two shooting victims, despite just having taken victims from the car crash.- Paramedics say a third shooting victim - with a wound to the neck - has been located with no pulse. A fourth ambulance is sent.(About the same time, a medical call comes in for a woman suffering seizures in the North End. Somehow, someway, an ambulance is available to be dispatched immediately)- Reports of three more shooting victims - although none with critical injuries, apparently. Those on scene say they will need at least five, if not six, units to be sent in total. The dispatcher says he doesn't believe enough units are available but they will send what they can.- A fifth ambulance is freed up from a previous medical call and dispatched to the Alexander shooting. A sixth ambulance is sent to the scene moments later.(Just seconds later, another ambulance is found to send to a home in the same neighbourhood for a child having breathing problems.- Dispatcher reports the Health Sciences Centre will be able to accept the third shooting victim with no pulse.704-alexander-1.jpg - The first of the mortallty-wounded shootings victims is rushed to hospital, where they will be prounounced dead.- The second victim is soon transported, followed by the third - and the same tragic results await.- Another shooting victim who is in stable condition is taken to the HSC. The others will follow shortly.711-crash2.jpg235-alexander.jpg Police will stay behind at both scenes to begin lengthy investigations of both incidents, doctors and nurses scramble into action to save as many lives as possible, and firefighters and paramedics quickly return to the streets, waiting for the next call.All in a day's work? I don't think so.These are extraordinary circumstances, with extraordinary efforts from my perspective.And while the above summary doesn't capture every detail - or the raw emotion and tension of a life-and-death situation like this - I find it truly remarkable and certainly admirable how these professionals acted in the face of tragedy.In a society where we are so quick to complain, I think we ought to take some time to commend those who work on the front-lines for a job well done.Sadly, four people died on this night and several more are fighting for their lives.But I can't help but wonder how high the body count would be without the top notch response from the everyday heroes - police officers, paramedics, firefighters and medical staff - whose names and faces may be a mystery but whose efforts should never be overlooked.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Got your winter vacation planned yet? ANNOUNCING A 10-DAY PANAMA CANAL CRUISE for January 2009!

    JEWEL OF THE SEAS.jpg Here we go again!For the 4th straight year, my wife Chassity and I are proud to offer you a tropical winter vacation to paradise.As you'll read below, the upcoming 10-day adventure we will be hosting looks to be the best one yet as we head for the Panama Canal.But only a limited number of cabins are available, and several are already sold and spoken for.Here's an overview of the trip, which comes after previous journeys to the eastern, western and southern Caribbean.INFO:.THURSDAY JANUARY 29 - Fly to Miami, stay overnight.FRIDAY JANUARY 30 - Board the Royal Caribbean "Jewel of the Seas" and set sail.SATURDAY JANUARY 31 - Get to know the ship while spending the day at sea.SUNDAY FEBRUARY 1 - Discover beautiful Labadee, a private island owned by Royal Caribbean.MONDAY FEBRUARY 2 - Spend the day at sea.TUESDAY FEBRUARY 3 - Port of call in Cartagena, ColumbiaWEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4 - See one of man's most impressive creations while crusing through the Panama Canal. Also make a stop in Cristobal Pier, PanamaTHURSDAY FEBRUARY 5 - Port of call in Puerto Limon, Costa RicaFRIDAY FEBRUARY 6 - Spend the day at sea.SATURDAY FEBRUARY 7 - Port of call in George Town, Grand CaymanSUNDAY FEBRUARY 8 - Spend the day at sea.MONDAY FEBRUARY 9 - Return to Miami, fly home.PRICES:Prices include: Return airfare, cruise, hotel in Miami, Florida night before cruise, all transfers, welcome aboard cocktail party, one shore excursion, $25 gift certificate.INSIDE STATEROOM - $1,688 per personOCEAN VIEW STATEROOM - $1,968 per personBALCONY - $2,218 per personTaxes and Port Fees not included - $608.85 per personOTHER INFO:The Jewel of the Seas is one of the newest ships in Royal Carribean's fleet, holding over 2,500 passengers and offering all the state-of-the-art comforts you can imagine.Among her spectacular features are the ten-story glass-constructed Centrum, glass elevators facing the sea, and the highest percentage of outside cabins in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Ship highlights include:Rock-climbing wallPortofino Italian RestaurantChops GrilleLatté-tudes,a specialty coffee house featuring Seattle's Best Coffee®Seaview CaféThemed bars and loungesCasino RoyaleThe Colony Club,a unique British colonial-style lounge with self-leveling pool tablesBeautiful indoor SolariumIndoor/outdoor country club with golf simulatorAdventure Ocean® youth facilitiesDay Spa and Fitness CenterSports court with basketball/volleyball courtClick HERE to read more about it.Only 30 cabins are blocked off this year for the group and interest is already very high - especially with many cruisers from the first three trips coming back on boardd.The trip is also being promoted on my weekly national radio show and website. Journey's has also started weekly newspaper advertising.As you likely know, signing on for a "group" cruise is simply a great way to get a better rate. Because our sponsor, Journey's Travel, is buying in bulk, they can secure much better pricing then what an individual couple could get.As well, it's a great way to experience new things with like-minded folks who may end up becoming good friends.However, don't think going with a group means you won't get to chart your own adventure. You will have all the time in the world to do absolutely everything you like. There are no commitments whatsoever.If you'd like to simply treat it as if you were just going by yourselves - yet taking advantage of the discounted group rate - there's nothing wrong with that.If you'd like to hang out with some of the other Canadian cruisers in the group, well, you're more than welcome as well. In the past three years, we usually ate dinners as a group and took in a few nightly theatre shows together. But with the exception of our on-board cocktail party and the one included group excursion, everyone has tended to go their own way the remainder of the time. It's been a perfect mix of private time and socializing.So, if you are thinking this would be a great way to getaway for a bit next winter, don't hesitate!You can email Mike for more information (mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca) or call Journeys Travel as soon possible.PHONE: 942-5000 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-800-859-6354. ASK FOR PAULAThere is also a little perk to making a deposit this early. You will receive a reservation number which will allow you to purchase your excursions before it gets too busy. For popular ones such as swimming with dolphins this is a great bonus.Thanks again for your interest. It really means a lot to both of us.Cheers & Best Wishes,Mike and Chassity McIntyre
  • Hope flickering for pint-sized firebugs

    2005-09-15-macro-match.jpg Be afraid. Be very afraid.Because it appears a handful of Winnipeg kids have taken up a dangerous new "hobby" as they emerge from winter hibernation.In the past few days, police have arrested four boys and girls for setting a string of fires throughout the North End.The youngest culprit has been eight years old. The oldest just 10.The most serious case involves one boy, who police say lit more than 30 different fires.Police said the boy, who's too young to be charged or named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, began lighting fires to garbage bins in the Burrows Central neighbourhood six months ago.He then apparently began taking his efforts up a notch -- in late March, police said, he threw a firebomb at an Aberdeen Avenue home, causing $1,000 worth of damage to its exterior.On April 5, the boy struck again, breaking into a Burrows Avenue home and setting a fire that resulted in $100,000 damage.Lovely.On Thursday, we learned of three more arrests.Police said an eight-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy torched a garbage bin at Main Street and College Avenue.Another 10-year-old boy then set six autobins on fire in the 300 and 500 blocks of Magnus, Mountain and Burrows avenues during a one-night spree last week.Again, all three are too young to be charged. Fortunately - or perhaps miraculously - nobody was injured in any of these incidents.Police have turned all these firebugs over to guardians - there's no word on whether we're dealing with blood parents, relatives or foster care - and they have all been directed to the provincial Turnabout program.That makes any success in this program somewhat suspect, as it's clear they sorely lack any kind of guidance in their lives.Dave Brickwood, the province's executive director of community justice, told my colleague James Turner earlier this week that co-operation from the adults is essential."We can't force ourselves in," he said.Marc Proulx, a public education co-ordinator for the city's Youth Firestop program, agreed that positive changes are often stymied by difficult parents."It's a family program, and we need their consent. If we don't have their support we're dead in the water," he said.Since 1996, Proulx said his program accepts an average of 165 to 185 youths a year, most of them between the ages of 8-12.Proulx said there are two main reasons for youths to begin setting fires intentionally -- curiosity and crisis."Fire-setting is not the problem itself, it's a symptom of a larger issue," Proulx said.Police and fire officials say the months of April and May are usually peak times for fires set by youths, along with September and October.And perhaps not surprisingly, the culprits are often between the ages of eight and 12.Most of us realize there are a myriad of complex problems facing many of the city's youth - poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and mental abuse, a cycle of violence, etc.But I think the number one cause of what ails this city has to do with a complete and utter lack of guidance at home.After all, what in the hell are these kids doing out on the streets by themselves - at any hour, really, but especially in the late evening or even middle of the night.I see the mother of the most problamatic 10-year-old told a local media outlet this week that she was aware her son had a problem and tried to get him some help through his school.Yet the woman then went on to question whether her boy really did what he's been accused of, and suggest police bullied her boy into some false confessions.In other words, passing the buck. And teaching her children a good lesson about taking responsibility - as in, how to avoid doing so.I wonder why parents of these kids aren't being looked at for charges themselves. It might be difficult to prove in a court of law, but why not take a run at charging them with something like negligenc e.There's also a charge under the Criminal Code for "failing to provide the necessities of life." Normally it applies to depriving someone of food, or medical care.But why can't it apply to other fundamental needs such as love, leadership, discipline and knowledge?After all, does anyone think that many of these kids have truly been given the "necessities" they need in order to have a successful, law-abiding life?Would love to know your thoughts on this issue. Post your comment below.
  • Mike on sports!?

    Faithful readers of this blog (Hi Mom and Dad!) will recall a little "branching out" I did last year around this time.Rather than be pegged as a one-trick crime pony, I decided to release my inner sports fan and unleash my Stanley Cup playoff picks upon you.By the time the Anaheim Ducks were sipping champagne from the world's greatest trophy in mid-June, yours truly had gone a fairly impressive 13/15 in series predictions (including 8/8 in the first round and calling the Ducks as champs)So, as the puck gets set to drop this week, I figured I'd take another shot at gazing into the crystal ball.As well, folks in the Winnipeg area can look for me on the tube this week as I take part in a roundtable sports-themed discussion on Shaw TV with several panelists, including former Winnipeg Jets broadcaster Curt Keilback.For those of you have have no interest in sports - and come here solely to read about the latest mayhem - my apologies. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming in short order.But for the rest of you, let's see what you think about my picks. Feel free to share your own predictions in the comments section below.stanley_cup1.jpg WESTERN CONFERENCEDetroit vs Nashville - Detroit in 5San Jose vs Calgary - San Jose in 7Minnesota vs Colorado - Colorado in 6Anaheim vs Dallas - Anaheim in 7EASTERN CONFERENCEMontreal vs Boston - Montreal in 5Pittsburgh vs Ottawa - Pittsburgh in 7Washington vs Philadelphia - Philadelphia in 6New Jersey vs New York Rangers - New York Rangers in 6www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Stay out of the hockey rink, coppers!

    Do police and prosecutors in Quebec really have that much time on their hands?roy.jpg We knew the province had one of the lowest crime rates in the country. So perhaps that explains why an investigation has been launched into a wild hockey brawl involving the son of NHL goaltending legend Patrick Roy. (Read story HERE)In case you've just crawled out of a cave, here's the Reader's Digest version of what happened (followed by my two cents)The Chicoutimi Sagueneens were laying a pretty good butt-kicking on their rivals, the Quebec Remparts, in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game Saturday night.Not surprisingly, things started to get a little squirrely on the ice. That's bound to happen when you have a bunch of hormonally-charged young men and a lopsided score (7-1 at the time).The pushing and shoving quickly escalated into a full-scale brawl.Remparts goalie Jonathan Roy - no doubt nursing a case of sunburn on the back of his neck from the red goal light being turned on so much - skated the full length of the ice to take on the Sagueneens goalie.One minor problem - Bobby Nadeau didn't want to dance.Roy didn't seem to care, unleashing a flurry of punches on the clearly shocked Nadeau. He knocked him to the ice, continued to pound away - then gave Chicoutimi fans the "one-fingered salute" as he left the ice.The QMJHL investigated the incident - which made sports highlights across North America - and dished out some justice.Jonathan Roy was suspended for seven games.106433-34651[1].jpg His famous father - who coaches the Remparts - was handed a five-game ban for failing to control his players, especially his son. There were suggestions Roy encouraged his boy to go after Nadeau, a claim he denies. Patrick Roy has also apologized for his conduct.Now that should have been the end of what was a fairly ugly incident.Yet apparently this case is far from over. Police and prosecutors are reviewing the tapes and considering criminal charges.I don't understand this.Let me be clear - I don't condone what happened here for a minute. It was stupid. It was senseless. And it has no place in sport.But I must question why authorities can't allow the QMJHL to police itself, as has already been done.Jonathan Roy is a lot of things for doing what he did - words like gutless and cowardly come to mind - but is he a criminal?That's not to say there aren't times when outside investigations aren't warranted.Incidents like the vicious, pre-meditated Todd Bertuzzi attack on Steve Moore, which ended the young player's career and saw Bertuzzi charged with assault, can't be overlooked.Nor can incidents when sports clearly can't police themselves - such as the steroid epidemic we now see in baseball that has caught the attention of congress.But if we're now going to start investigating every time an emotional hockey game or other sporting event boils over, where does it end?hrudey[1].jpg I think former NHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey, now an analyst for Hockey Night In Canada, is bang-on with his take. Hrudey says the incident likely would not have received much attention had it not involved Roy, a fiery personality who is also one of the greatest goalies in NHL history.“I feel the whole incident has been overblown,” Hrudey said. “It’s a front page story in Western Canada and it’s not big news in any sense. It’s ridiculous.”Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below. You can also click HERE to cast your vote in my latest Jury Poll question.
  • The missing daughter he's never met

    Dan Wilson has court-ordered custody of his 13-year-old daughter, Ashlyn.The two have never met.This incredibly tragic story played out on my "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday night, where an emotional Wilson discussed a crippling loss I can't even imagine.We were joined by FBI agent John Hallcok, who told listeners about the ongoing search for the missing girl.It was part of our exclusive series "The Lost Children", which features a new case on the second Sunday of every month in conjunction with the Missing Children's Society of Canada. (To listen to the entire interview, click HERE and then type in Sunday Mar. 9 and 7 p.m. to listen)In a nutshell, Wilson and his then 22-year-old fiance, Tara Wilson, learned in 1994 they were going to have a baby while living together in Iowa. Tara's family objected to this news and quickly whisked their daughter back home to Oregon.What followed next can only be described as a father's worst nightmare.Dan Wilson was served with a restraining order telling him he could have no contact with Tara or his soon-to-be-born child. The family had convincted a justice official - based solely on their own claims - that he had raped her and posed an ongoing danger.In fact, the entire story was bogus, a smokescreen designed to buy the woman some time. Because by the time Dan Wilson hired a lawyer and got a court date to fight the stunning allegations, Tara Wilson and her newborn child were gone.As in out of the country.Hallock said the FBI have learned family members somehow helped get them across the U.S. border and into western Canada.Meanwhile, Tara Wilson's false claims were thrown out of court when she didn't appear. A judge ruled Dan Wilson had sole custody. A federal warrant for kidnapping was issued for the mother of his child.More than 13 years have passed. The warrant still exists. Tara Wilson is still a fugitive. And Ashlyn Wilson is now a teenager.Hallock said there have been numerous reported sightings of them in B.C., Alberta and Washington state. Yet somehow Tara Wilson has eluded capture.And Dan Wilson has been forced to watch the daughter he's never been able to hold grow up through computer enhancement photos, as you see below.NCMC813317c1.jpgWilson_Ashley_enhanced.jpg10.jpgAshlyn-Wilson-PAE-2.jpgNCMC813317e1.jpgNOTE - actual photo at 3 months taken off a passport application, computer enhanced photos at aged 8, 10, 11 and 12Wilson had plenty to say Sunday. Although he thanked FBI for the work they're now doing, he's frustrated with the way his case was first handled by police.He believes police didn't take him seriously or try very hard to find his daughter because, even though he had court-ordered custody, he figures the popular thinking was "oh well, she's with her mother."Wilson believes a much greater effort would have been made if the roles were reversed and it was the non-custodial father who abducted the child from its mother.Wilson also worries what his daughter has been told by her mother all these years. He figures she's been brainwashed into thinking he's an unloving, uncaring man.I wonder how a mother could be so cruel. No doubt Tara Wilson loves her daughter. But how honest is that love when it comes the price of keeping a child from her father - who has done absolutely nothing wrong here, don't forget.Tara Wilson is the criminal. Dan Wilson is the victim. And so is Ashlyn Wilson.Dan Wilson said he's angry at Tara for what she's done but isn't out for vengeance. He just wants to meet his daughter, to tell her how hard he's been looking for her and how much he loves her.One thing Wilson will never get is the 13 years - and counting - that he has lost with her. Those can never be replaced.mom enhanced.jpg Now Wilson - and law enforcement - need your help. Tara Wilson is still believed to be in Canada. If you have any information on this case, please go to the following links and speak up. A computer enhanced photo of Tara Wilson has also been prepared.-MISSING CHILDREN'S SOCIETY OF CANADA-FBI-NATIONAL CENTRE FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN-OREGON STATE POLICEFinally, here's an email I received from Dan Wilson late Sunday night following the show:Thank you so much for what you have done for me, and what you are doing for many others!!!Some more things I thought were important;Tara's family in Oregon cover story to their peers when they took Tara home was that "Tara was raped by a guy she knew from bible study". (Who would dare dispute such a story or ask further questions?) They totally avoided that Tara was engaged and that they knew me.Some years later when Tara's father Dr. Wilson was confronted in his office about Ashlyn, he denied having any grandchildren as none of his children were married.The means of Tara's being on the run and staying hidden are believed to be mostly from her family and facilitated by networks of Seventh Day Adventists who conduct "underground networks" to hide and provide for single mothers who are on the run.Tara has been and would likely be involved in:-Music performance or instruction in viola, piano, guitar, or other instruments;-Seventh Day Adventist Church, (Saturday worship, no work or commerce on sabbath friday night to saturday night);-Sign language;-Vegetarian;-Home school;-Horses;-Outdoor recreations;-Rural or isolated, self sufficient, secretive living;Tara would be a noticeable person; Very beautiful, Tall- about 6 foot, probably medium build, long blond hair, no cosmetics, no jewelery.Tara probably has many false identities, appearances / disguises and cover storiesIronic that the motives for Tara and her family are based in their pride of family position and reputation in their church, friends, family...In short it was too embarrassing to have a good Seventh Day Adventist daughter of theirs who chose to have sex before marriage. That would be immoral and a sin.But it is not immoral or a sin for them to;-lie about Tara being assaulted and raped,-lie about the existence of Ashlyn,-lie to law enforcement about whereabouts of Tara and Ashlyn and their role in hiding them,-break the law of the land and the rulings of the courts,-lie to anyone about anything to maintain the run,-lie to Ashlyn about her father,-keep a child (Ashlyn) from her father,-keep a father (me) from his daughter,-deprive their daughter and granddaughter of having anything like a normal life and opportunities,-put their daughter and granddaughter in the position of felony fugitive in hiding and taking away Tara and Ashlyn's ability to go to the police, hospital or other emergency services,-cause law enforcement agencies of county, state, national, international levels to spend uncountable amounts of money and time which could have helped others.The list of hypocricies goes on and on.Mike, again I want to tell you, but I cannot find words to convey how much it helps me and others that you are doing what you are doing. When I feel so helpless and anguished by the ineffective systems and my own limitations of time, money and abilities, to then have help from a stranger (YOU), makes me cry tears of gratitude which cannot be communicated with words!THANK YOU for all you are doing !Keep up the good work because you are helping other people to make the world a better place...not many things people can do that are more noble and truly great than that!God Bless You Mike!Sincerely,Dan WilsonFather of Ashlyn WilsonGot a comment on this case or the issues surrounding it? Post it below.
  • Animal abusers

    Last week it was dog abuse. This week we heard about a horse made to suffer.Neither court cases were very pleasant to sit through. And both left me wondering how people who claim they love animals could be responsible for utter cruelty.If you haven't read either of my stories, I'll spare you the grisly details.One involved a married couple who pretty much ran their puppy mill business into the ground - at the expense of the nearly two dozen animals they were housing. (Click HERE to read)The other involved a married couple who took in a couple of neglected horses - then made no effort to actually care for at least one of them. (Click HERE to read)The consistent theme that emerged in these unrelated cases is that there are people in this world who have no business owning an animal of any kind.Another is the lack of punishment that awaits these types of offenders.Sure, both couples were hit with substantial fines. But considering they are both deep in debt, what are the odds that money will actually be paid anytime soon?How about hitting people like this where it really hurts - and take away their freedom?I firmly believe anyone who could subject a helpless animal to such torment is capable of doing same to a fellow human. To me, that makes them a potential danger to society. So lock 'em up for a bit.Animal abuse laws in this country are sorely lacking. And we continue to see disturbing stories making headlines every week or so.Fortunately, all hope isn't lost. There are still plenty of caring people in this world.Ian Greaves is one such man. He e-mailed me this week after my reading the story on the puppy mill case. He had a most interesting - and heartwarming - story to share.In his words...Mike,I read with interest the article that you wrote "Puppy mill owners found guilty" online. I would like to tell you how I am personally and very indirectly involved with this story.As tragic in a sense of how those animals where treated, I want to tell you how something has come out of this very positive and made my family very happy.All the stars seem to have lined up straight for me and my family way back in May 2007. First of all, the dogs that were seized, were seized by a vet that worked for the provincial government that is a friend of ours.When these dogs where seized, they had to go to a places that could take care of them. Namely a place like Darcy's Animal Rescue Center on Portage Avenue.I guess some of these seized animals were beagles, bulldogs and three Wheaton Terriers. Of these Wheaton Terriers, one was a male and two were female.One of the Wheaton females was pregnant at the time. Hence move fast forward to the May long weekend of 2007. Getting together with my wife's family for a barbeque, my wife Shelley and her sister, Sharon, also Darcy's wife were talking about these Wheaton pups that weere coming to Darcy's animal shelter to be adopted.They had been seized from a puppy mill somewhere in southern Manitoba. My wife said to me, "Ian would you like a Wheaton Terrier puppy." I said "NO WAY".I then made the mistake of looking up this breed on the internet. I got suckered in.The pregnant female gave birth to a litter of 8 - 7 females and 1 male - at a foster home somewhere in or around Winnipeg.Hence, this is why I am writing you this email to tell you that we ended up getting one of these Wheaton puppies, that will soon be one year old on March 27. This dog has brought a great deal of happiness in this home.IMG_0651.JPG My three kids love the silly dog to death, my wife talks to it like it is going to reply and I kinda like it too. This family could not have asked for a better pet.A kind of happy note to this story don't you think.I have included a picture of Sheena our Wheaton Terrier that all of us just love.Best Regards,Ian Greaves
  • Should pilot have gone to prison? You make the call.

    20a5tayfel.jpg Mark Tayfel is not a bad guy. But he made a terrible error in judgment that had devastating consequences.So should he have gone to prison?That was the difficult question being asked in a Winnipeg courtroom this week as Tayfel was sentenced for his deadly mistake. Ultimately, Queen's Bench Justice Holly Beard ruled Thursday afternoon Tayfel could remain in the community under a conditional sentence. (Read story HERE)Did she make the right call?Running out of gas when you're driving a car is, at worst, a major inconvenience. Running out of gas when you're flying a plane is, at best, a massive tragedy narrowly avoided.As most of you likely know, Tayfel took a chance with his fuel levels - and lost - while piloting a twin-engine plane in 2002.He then made a bad situation worse by failing to tell anyone on the ground about his problem until it was too late. He also put the lives of many other innocents at risk by flying into Winnipeg - then overshooting the runway.20a5crash.jpg Tayfel somehow crash-landed at a busy city intersection, clipping a Transit bus and just missing several cars and pedestrians on the way down.Somehow Tayfel and six passengers survived. No one on the ground was hurt. Yet one elderly passenger, Chester Jones of Kansas, died of his injuries weeks later.Tayfel didn't own up to his mistake - at least not in a legal sense - and chose to fight his charges of criminal negligence at trial. He lost and was convicted.Crown attorney Brian Wilford told court Wednesday Tayfel deserves to be in jail.Although there are really no precedents for a case like this, Wilford says a strong message must be sent to Tayfel and all other pilots that this kind of reckless risk-taking will have serious consequences. And he says a community-based sentence doesn't send that message.401t.jpg Tayfel's lawyers disagreed, saying it wouldn't be right to send a good man to jail for making a mistake. He didn't deliberately crash his plane, they pointed out. And he came very close to dying himself, they noted.Tayfel's got plenty of support - from family members, friends and even those in the airline community.Personally, I've got mixed feelings on this one.On one hand, there's a long-held belief that jail should probably be reserved for dangerous and/or violent criminals. Tayfel clearly doesn't fit that description. Would putting him behind bars truly make society a safer place?But on the other hand, a life was lost here. Many more could have been. At what point does the background of the offender - however positive - take a backseat to the outcome of the crime?It's a tough call, and one I'm glad I didn't have to make.How about you? Post your thoughts below or click HERE to vote in my latest Jury Poll
  • The root causes of youth crime

    A very interesting study on youth crime was recently completed in Canada.The Canadian Research Institute For Law and Family took a look into the lives of 123 young offenders in Calgary to see where they came from, how they got there and where they're going.The results likely wouldn't vary much no matter which major Canadian city was being looked at.Joseph Hornick, the executive director of the organization, joined me Sunday night on my "Crime and Punishment" radio show to discuss their findings.Among the revelations we talked about:-Only about 2.7 per cent of youth in Calgary engaged in criminal activities. Guess that debunks the "all youth today are nothing but trouble" type of mentality we often hear from frustrated citizens.-The more serious offenders tend to get into trouble by age 14, were more likely to have experienced family violence and few engaged in social or leisure activities with their families. They are also likely to have abused drugs and alcohol and have bullied classmates.- Only 10 per cent of the serious offenders had been involved in organized activities after school and none had taken part in adult-coached sports.-Most of the crimes took place Monday to Friday during the day instead of evenings or on weekends.-Criminal behaviour escalates and peaks at about age 14, stressing the need to intervene with children aged 12 or younger.There's a lot more to this study, which is actually just the first of three phases. I strongly encourage you to check it out in greater detail by clicking HERE. You can read an executive summary and highlights.I then encourage you to post your thoughts below.Does this change the way you think about youth crime? Did you find anything surprising here? (The fact most crime happens during weekdays was a shock to me). Does this leave you thinking more affordable community programming - and not just strong sentences - is part of the solution?
  • Parents of accused pellet gun killer spark outrage with comments

    I've been overwhelmed this week with the volume of angry phone calls and e-mails I've received about my story on the tragic pellet gun killing of 13-year-old Cody Shuya.1061t.jpgMy story - which ran in Tuesday's Free Press - focused largely on an exclusive interview with the parents of the 17-year-old now charged with criminal negligence causing death. (Click HERE to read)To recap, the two teens are accused of breaking into an inner-city garage and stealing a pellet gun they found laying around.desert-eagle-web.jpg Moments later, the gun accidentally went off and Shuya was shot in the eye, the pellet going straight into his brain. The older teen made sure 911 had been called, then took off.He lived with the secret of what had happened for several days, only coming forward with the truth after attending his friend's funeral.The case, while tragic, is not what has people upset.It's the suggestion from the accused's parents that the owner of the stolen pellet gun should, at the very least, share in the blame for what happened and possibly face criminal charges. (Read story HERE)They say the owner should know better then to leave a potentially lethal weapon laying around in a garage in a high-crime area. They say break-ins are frequent, and as such property owners must take extra care - presumably from people like their own son.This has the collective blood pressure of many readers rising. People are stunned that the parents of this accused criminal would actually suggest the victim of a break-in should be held accountable.Let's make one thing perfectly clear. My story should not be confused with my own personal opinion. It was a news story, not an editorial. Many people have accused me of suggesting the gun owner should be charged. I certainly haven't, nor would I.A few weeks ago, I wrote a story on a western Manitoba man who is charged with careless storage of a firearm. The facts are quite tragic. He legally owned several long guns but apparently didn't have trigger locks on at least one of them. (Click HERE to read)His 24-year-old son, following a fight with his ex-girlfriend, comes into the house one night when dad is away. The young man grabs the gun, points it as his head and pulls the trigger. He somehow survives the suicide bid. Police are called, begin an investigation and ultimately charged the father with the gun offence.I didn't get a single e-mail on that story from anyone suggesting the police were out of line to charge the father. That actually surprised me, given that I figured many people would see it as a case of kicking a man when he's down.But I wonder - if justice officials are going to charge the grieving father in that case, should the pellet gun owner face similar consequences?One major difference, of course, is the lack of regulations surrounding pellet guns.Perhaps a better comparison is auto theft.There have been suggestions in the past that people who fail to take proper care in protecting their cars from thieves should face charges if the vehicle is stolen and later used in a crime.So where do you stand? Should we all be held accountable if our action - or inaction - indirectly leads to a crime. Or is this just an absurd example of trying to deflect blame away from criminals who are already getting the kid glove treatment by the courts.Post your thoughts below. You can also visit my website at www.mikeoncrime.com to vote on our latest Jury Poll question.
  • Teen killer is a victim, too

    Her life has been the stuff of nightmares.Abandoned pretty much from birth by a gang-banging father who apparently felt his criminal family was more important to him then his real one. He's now racked up a 15-page criminal record that includes nearly every violent act imaginable.Neglected by a crack-addict mom who would disappear for long stretches of time, crashing inside inner-city flophouses while getting her latest fix.Pregnant at the age of 15, while already a solvent abuser herself, racked by depression and anxiety and loneliness and probably all sorts of other things most of us could never comprehend.So is it any wonder this girl, before celebrating her "Sweet 16", would turn out to be anything but a violent criminal?Sad, yes. But surprising? Not really.Yet there she was in court last week, pleading guilty to second-degree murder for last summer's brutal knifing of a woman the Crown dubbed an "innocent bystander." (Read story HERE)Her own mother is also charged in the slaying. The woman remains before the courts and is presumed innocent. Police and the Crown allege it was the mother who initiated the deadly incident by getting involved in a fight at a crackhouse, then calling her daughter and demanding she come over and save her.The teen - who can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act - was given the maximum penalty of seven years. Four will be spent in custody. The remaining three under community supervision.Her lawyer, Greg Brodsky, told court the may as well have come "off an island or out of a bush" given her complete lack of understanding about what society considerns "normal."And he's right.That's not an excuse for what she did. It's simply a fact. And there are countless others like her out there, living in conditions we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies, being shown absolutely zero guidance in life and headed down the same dark, lonely road.Is this teen killer a lost cause? Perhaps. Brodsky says her prison sentence will hopefully give her a chance to be taught how to function in society.That seems like wishful thinking, as the place to be taught that kind of valuable life lesson would come in a safe, loving, nurturing home - not a jail.However, she has been accepted into a relatively new federal program that will include a very aggressive treatment plan. Her progress will be watched closely, which at least gives her a fighting chance.I know many of you reading this will have long ago cued the violins, figuring I'm just some bleeding heart who's bought into this girl's sob story hook, line and sinker.Only it's not a story. It's her reality. And a damn sad one at that.Let's not forget the victim of the killing, Kristi Hall, who did absolutely nothing to deserve her fate. It appears she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid the ultimate price.But let's also not be foolish enough to think there was just one victim here. The 16-year-old killer is a victim, too. Her fate was seemingly sealed pretty much from the moment she entered this world.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Want to be my Facebook friend??

    Folks,It seems almost everyone is one Facebook these days - including yours truly - and that's why I've created a group for those looking for all the latest information on my newest book project this year.As I wrote in a previous blog, I'm currently working on my fourth true crime tale, which will chronicle the case of notorious Canadian sex offender Peter Whitmore.Devil Among Us: How Canada Failed To Stop Pedophile Peter Whitmore is slated for release in late fall.If you're on Facebook and want to join the group, simply click HERE. You'll be able to stay updated on my progress, fire away with questions about the content and writing process, debate the Whitmore case and issues surrounding it - and be first to know when Devil Among Us is completed and set to be released.Thanks for the interest, and support.-Mike
  • The poster boy for change?

    Is there anyone out there who doesn't think Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act needs some serious overhauling?If so, I'd like to introduce them to Gene Soldat.As I write in Wednesday's Free Press, the 18-year-old Winnipegger could be the poster child for the much-maligned YCJA.Soldat racked up a staggering 82 convictions between the ages of 12-17 - with nearly every single offence for stealing cars and wreaking havoc on city streets.Yet Soldat never served more than a few months at a time behind bars - just enough for him to likely drop in to say hello to some old friends, brag about his latest criminal exploits, maybe pick up a new trick or two and then be quickly ushered out the door back into the community.All in the name of "rehabilitation", which the YCJA makes crystal clear can be the only factor in deciding a sentence for a young offender.Well, it certainly set Soldat on the right path, didn't it?While serving his most recent jail stint in 2006, Soldat was given a free pass to leave the facility during the daytime for the purposes of work.He apparently clocked in for three straight days, then decided he'd had enough of following rules and pulled a vanishing act.Police caught up to him a few weeks later - after he'd stolen a few cars, capped up by a high-speed chase in which he drove over boulevards, ran stop signs and red lights and drove into oncoming traffic while going more than 30 km/h over the speed limit.He later told officers he did it because it was "fun."Oh, did I mention what Soldat had been in jail for?Soldat was the so-called "ringleader" of a group of teens who, in late 2004, turned the city of Winnipeg into their own personal video game.The boys were responsible for stealing five cars — three of which were written off — and damaging 38 others, including a police car that was destroyed in a high-speed crash.They also sent one car smashing through the window of an empty River Heights apartment block by pinning down the accelerator with a brick — an incident the building realtor described as an act of “terrorism.” A resident ended up trapped in the rubble of his own washroom when the roof collapsed.27a5towjob.jpg Soldat and his crew also sent another car into a house, startling the sleeping resident and causing extensive damage. A few others were sent flying onto the frozen river.The group also left numerous senior citizens in tears by targeting an underground parking lot in North Kildonan for most of their senseless acts of vandalism on Boxing Day 2004.Soldat again explained his criminal conduct as being fun.I remember one of the elderly women calling my radio show days later, crying about what had happened and wondering what the world was coming to. I had no answer for her.Soldat received his biggest youth sentence of all for this crime spree - a grand total of one year in jail and six months of probation.Of course, he ultimately made a mockery of that sentence. Just as he did for all the others.Now Soldat has entered a new phase of his criminal lifestyle. Even though he was still just 17 at the time of his most recent spree, Soldat has been raised to adult court.The punishment judges weren't legally allowed to dish out as a youth is now very much in play - although many will no doubt scoff at the chances of any real justice being dished out.On Tuesday, the Crown said Soldat should serve another 30 to 36 months in jail, in addition to all the pre-trial custody he's done since his arrest.Not surprisingly, Soldat's lawyer is seeking something less. In fact, Jody Ostapiw says he should simply be given time in custody and immediately returned to society so her client has "a little bit of hope."Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen says she needs some time to think it over and has reserved her verdict.Something tells me the general public would be able to render a much quicker decision.Meanwhile, the federal conservaties are currently studying changes to the YCJA.They'll obviously come far too late in the case of Gene Soldat. But they can't come soon enough based on the fact there are many more Gene Soldat's out there, secure in the knowledge that the law as it stands can't do a single thing to make them think twice about how they get their kicks.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • The Beverly Rowbotham murder mystery

    It's been more than seven years since she was found dead in her car in Selkirk, Manitoba - but the public interest in who killed Bev Rowbotham remains as strong as ever.481-a3bev.jpg So does the police will to bring her killer to justice, according to several sources.Yet despite identifying a suspect from day one - Rowbotham's husband, Mark Stobbe - the case remains stalled in investigative limbo.Stobbe, it should be noted, has always maintained his innocence. And while he is refusing to do interviews on the case, he is speaking through his Winnipeg lawyer.SK_stobbe001026.jpg Tim Killeen told me again this week his client desperately wants to see his wife's killer caught. And that Stobbe will do anything he can to assist the investigation.It's not surprising to learn police have their eye on the spouse - that is fairly common in these types of murder cases. And often that suspicion proves to be well-founded.But is this, as Killeen has suggested, a case of police using "tunnel vision" and becoming so focused on one man that they become blinded to other potential suspects?Or is this a case of a "perfect murder" that will never be solved?Much of the intrigue surrounding this case involves the fact Stobbe held a high-ranking position with both the Saskatchewan, and then the Manitoba, governments. That has prompted police on at least one occassion to farm the case out to an out-of-province Crown attorney for opinion.Other talking points include the suicide of a lead investigator, a search of the Red River, reports of a shadowy figure on a bicycle, the repeated searches of the Rowbotham-Stobbe home, an attempt by insurance companies to avoid paying Stobbe, a subsequent lawsuit that was settled out of court and the revelation Rowbotham was killed in her own backyard - and not where her body was found.One of the frustrating aspects from a journalistic aspect is the difficulty in getting any type of official information or updates from the police.There are seemingly dozens of wild rumours and theories floating around about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Rowbotham's brutal 2000 slaying just north of Winnipeg.If even half of them were true this case would be the stuff of best-selling books and TV movies-of-the-week.We in the media aren't the only ones hearing them.The Rowbotham family have expressed numerous concerns about the status of the case, and actually supported a Winnipeg Free Press motion three years ago to unseal search warrant documents pertaining to the investigation in hope of shedding some new light.After a fairly lengthy legal battle, the newspaper won a partial victory and got access to partially edited copies which showed Stobbe was identified as the suspect. They also revealed DNA was found at the scene - from both Rowbotham and another source - and a warrant to seize a sample from Stobbe was obtained.So what became of that forensic evidence? We still don't know, as the portion of the search warrants which remained cloaked in secrecy dealt with this aspect of the case.Now, as the original sealing order expires, media outlets are renewing their fight to have the documents made public. Police are fighting the move, claiming the investigation is ongoing and could be compromised if the information comes to light. (Read story by clicking HERE)Yet with so much time having passed, you truly have to wonder if police are really making any progress - or just spinning their wheels.One thing is clear. Everybody in this case deserves answers - from the Rowbotham family, to Mark Stobbe himself.Let's hope they come soon.Do you agree the search warrants should be unsealed? Or is this an example of the media - and by extension the public - trying to stick its nose where it doesn't belong? Post your thoughts below.PS - in my next blog, I'll update you with some thoughts on another major Manitoba murder mystery that is dragging along.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Announcing my latest true crime book project...

    The following was sent out by Great Plains publications today.*****whitmore052207.jpg Media ReleaseFebruary 20, 2008FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEWINNIPEG - Mike McIntyre, award-winning crime journalist and best-selling author is hard at work on his latest book Devil Among Us: How Canada Failed To Stop Pedophile Peter Whitmore.The Whitmore story has captured the country’s attention since the notorious sex offender shocked the nation with a sadistic con job in 2006 that saw him kidnap two young Prairie boys from their unsuspecting families. The case sparked a desperate manhunt and a flood of anger as citizens were left wondering why such a dangerous predator wasn't locked upMcIntyre has followed the case closely since it first made headlines across the country and won a Beyond Borders national media award for his coverage.In Devil Among Us, he will take readers inside Whitmore's crimes, into the lives of his many victims and reveal how a lax legal system ignored repeated warning signs that another violent attack was imminent.McIntyre will also explore the controversial public and political fall-out from Whitmore's case - claims of mental illness, the merits of chemical castration and other treatment, dangerous offender designations, grooming of victims, plea-bargaining and Ottawa's push for tougher sex offender legislation.McIntyre's latest true crime tale represents an alarming wake-up call to justice officials and a chilling reminder to Canadians about the devils who live among us.McIntyre's previous books - Nowhere To Run: The Killing of Const. Dennis Strongquill (2003), The Yuletide Bandit: A Seven-Year Search For A Serial Criminal (2004), and To The Grave: Inside A Spectacular RCMP Sting (2006) have spent time on Canada’s bestsellers lists and have won praise from critics across the country.Devil Among Us will be published by Great Plains Publications this fall.For more information or to arrange an interview with the author please contact:Catharina de BakkerAssistant to the PublisherGreat Plains PublicationsOffice (204) 475-6799Fax (204) 475-0138Email info@greatplains.mb.caWeb www.greatplains.mb.ca
  • Responding to Laurie Bell's family

    A reader has taken me to task for my recent blog on Laurie Bell.As you may have read in the post below, a woman named Lynn - who happens to be a relative of the convicted police killer - has expressed concerns about many aspects of my coverage.I feel the need to respond to some of Lynn's points - and to invite other readers to do the same.First, here's a recap of what Lynn had to say (you can read the full blog about Laurie Bell by scanning down)"Ive had a real eye-opener concerning the media. Some reporters are using a very real tragedy to create their own fictional accounts and scenarios for their own personal gain and profit. Perhaps writing a book? Sensationalizing and using half truths and calling this reporting is wrong. Anyone checking the facts would know that during the trial, the judge repeatedly told the jury that listening to jailhouse informants is dangerous. That this so called “informant”, admitted that she lies. That Laurie Bell was not the person charged with throwing urine. That the parole board asked the 5 foot 95 pound girl if she found she needed to defend herself against bigger inmates because of her small stature. I don’t believe she is a violent person by nature. The public only hears what reporters want to write and that will sell newspapers. No one wants to hear how she has grown and matured. Or that she has used the programs available to her and has acquired her G.E.D. You cant believe everything you see on tv or in this case, read about."Before I respond, a couple notes.It is true I wrote a book on the Dennis Strongquill case, which certainly explored the role Laurie Bell played in his December 2001 death - from the Crown's theory to the ultimate finding by the jury.In researching "Nowhere To Run" during the summer/fall of 2003, I extended numerous offers to the Bell family to speak candidly about the young woman. Although a handful of distant relatives, along with numerous friends and associates, agreed to speak out, Laurie's inner circle of family refused. As did Laurie herself. That was certainly their right, but I always made it clear that they were missing out on a golden opportunity to share details on this troubled young woman's life.I would still welcome, now five years later, the opportunity to interview Laurie Bell and her family. That door still remains open.In the meantime, I will speak to the family in this forum, since they have chosen to initiate contact.*****Lynn,I feel the need to respond to your post.I'm happy to hear that Laurie Bell has apparently "grown and matured", as you write. Unfortunately, those words were not included in the National Parole Board report which, among other things, finds her to be an "undue risk" to commit a violent crime upon release from prison.I truly hope she has reformed - society is a much better place when convicted criminals are able to re-enter society and make a clean start of it.The recent story about Laurie's case was a summary of the concerns expressed by the NPB. Perhaps they will end up being unfounded. Only time will tell.But to suggest the story has been "fictionalized" is false.I think it is clear to everyone that Laurie Bell was convicted of manslaughter, not murder. (Otherwise, we certainly wouldn't even be talking about parole at this stage) The Crown's theory was that she played a much more active role in Dennis Strongquill's death. Jurors clearly rejected that theory, which was largely based on the testimony of a jailhouse informant. That has been reported, clearly and accurately, from day one.No doubt there are many people - Strongquill's family included - who believe Laurie "got away with murder". That is their right.I have no doubt Laurie has had a difficult time in prison. Contrary to what many Canadians think, jail is no holiday for most.Hopefully she has used her time behind bars wisely and the grim prognosis for her success proves to be a false alarm.I would happily write that story one day.In the meantime, I am very proud of the work I did on Nowhere To Run and certainly stand by it. I did not fictionalize any aspect of the story and believe Laurie Bell was presented in a fair and very accurate way, based on all the information that was available to me about her background.I've always believed - and stated in countless interviews - that I believe Laurie was a naive, impressionable young woman who was somewhat manipulated by the Sand brothers and got in way over her head. And I honestly believe the jury's verdict was a fair one - and the one I would have reached after hearing all the evidence against her.But I also strongly disagree with Laurie's claim to parole board officials that she's somehow gotten a bad deal here and done far more time for her crime than she deserves.The fact is, spending seven years in prison for her role in such a horrific killing should be considered a break.She's going to get her second chance. Dennis Strongquill never will.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Laurie Bell

    She played a key role in one of the most shocking murders in Manitoba history.And now, just a little over seven years after RCMP Const. Dennis Strongquill was ambushed on the highway and gunned down in cold blood, Laurie Bell is about to regain her freedom.sand_bell030613[1].jpgAs I report in Wednesday's Free Press, Bell will be given statutory release in mid-March after serving two-thirds of her sentence for manslaughter. Her co-accused ex-boyfriend, Robert Sand, continues to serve his life sentence for first-degree murder.31[1].jpg Bell's release is coming with all kinds of controversy. And it certainly has brought up some memories for me, having written extensively about Bell and Sand in my 2003 true crime book "Nowhere To Run: The Killing of Const. Dennis Strongquill"She has been deemed a serious risk to re-offend, has refused to attend treatment programs behind bars, has been in numerous violent and sexual encounters with other inmates, has been caught using intoxicants while in custody and has displayed a lack of insight and remorse for her crimes, according to parole documents obtained this week.Other than that, she's a model inmate!strongquill011221[1].jpg (She also claims she "lights a candle" on the anniversary of Strongquill's death every year and has discovered the Muslim faith while behind bars)And yet despite all these warning signs, Bell is being sprung from prison with more than two full years remaining on her sentence - albeit with several special conditions imposed on her which hopefully reduces the risk to public safety.The National Parole Board says its hands are tied. And they're correct.That's because this is strictly the call of another government agency - the Correctional Service of Canada - who do have the ability to overrule the two-thirds release in exceptional cases and keep an inmate until their full sentence expires.But apparently Bell's crime and background doesn't meet their criteria and no such action is being taken.And so she will be allowed to resume her life, while the rest of society hopes and prays another innocent victim doesn't have to pay the ultimate price.Bell's release comes just weeks after a CSC review board publicly released some shocking figures about the large volume of inmates given statutory release - try two out of every three! - who re-offend. At least one in 10 commits a serious offence such as murder.Lovely.The board has also recommended the Conservative government scrap statutory release in favour of something called "earned parole", which would make it far more challenging for a criminal to get out after two-thirds.Of course, this would also require an estimated $70 million per year - over 10 years - in government funding for all the additional prison space that would be required.Will Laurie Bell's name soon be added to that statistic. Or will she surprise everyone and make a decent, law-abiding life for herself?Bell has reportedly claimed to prison officials she got a raw deal from the justice system, that her sentence was too long and that people who do far worse have gotten far less.I'm not sure which planet Bell lives on, but in my view doing just over seven years total for your role in killing an innocent, unsuspecting police officer qualifies as nothing short of a love tap from the justice system.I'd love to know where you stand on this.What do you think the odds are of Bell re-offending? Should statutory release be scrapped as the review board suggests? Should $700 million be spent on additional prison space? Should a person convicted of killing a police officer even be eligible for parole?Post your thoughts below. You can also click HERE to vote on this issue in my latest website jury poll.
  • Sexsomnia???

    Does anyone out there really believe a person could sleepwalk their way through a sexual assault?That's the bizarre defence a Toronto-area man successfully used to avoid criminal responsibility for his attack on a young woman. Now the case is before the Ontario Court of Appeal, where prosecutors are asking for the verdict to be tossed out.According to so-called medical experts, approximately three out of every 100 people are affected sexsomnia.Seriously???I know several hundred people - family, close friends, colleagues and everyday associates - and not a single one of them has such a condition.Many of them snore, I'm sure. Plenty probably talk in their sleep as well.But having sex with an unwilling partner and have absolutely no control over your actions - or memory of it happening? Not a chance.I've become so used to hearing strange excuses for crimes that the sexsomnia defence doesn't even surprise me.But it certainly concerns me. Because as I've previously blogged about, we seem to be living in a time where taking true responsibility for your actions seems to almost never occur.Thoughts? Post 'em below or go to my website at www.mikeoncrime.com and cast your vote on this issue in our latest JURY POLL question.
  • Is spanking your child an assault?

    A Brandon, Manitoba father is fuming after he was charged with assaulting his young daughter by spanking her backside following a disruptive day at summer camp. (Read story HERE)The criminal case was eventually dropped by the Crown and the family reunited - but only after CFS briefly seized the child, the father was restricted for six months in seeing his daughter and also had to take a parenting course.The girl's mother says she took a hit as well, getting fired from her $30,000 per year job where she worked with local teens and also being forced to attend parenting 101.The father admits to hitting the girl with an open hand over her clothes "three or four" times because of her misbehaviour. The impact was apparently enough to cause bruising, which was spotted a couple days later by supervisors at the camp and reported to police.The father is upset because the Criminal Code actually allows parents to physically discipline their children. Section 43 permits a defence to assault for corporal punishment by a parent, teacher or guardian, provided the force is deemed reasonable.Police and justice officials apparently felt what happened here went beyond reasonable, at least in initially laying charges.But this entire case has certainly re-ignited the old debate about whether parents should ever lay a hand on their children.As I've stated before, one of the most common things I hear from people in their 60s and 70s when I do public speaking on crime and justice issues is how they wish the strap would be brought back to Canada.Many feel young people today are coddled too much and aren't being set straight before it's too late.That experience certainly differs from mine. I was never spanked as a child, have never spanked my own two children and don't believe inflicting physical pain actually solves anything.I've covered far too many cases where childhood victims of abuse - often at the hands of their parents - turn out to be abusers themselves.Bringing violence of any kind into the home seems to only encourage that vicious cycle to continue.I think one of the biggest problem with young people these days is the fact parents aren't spending enough quality time with their kids - if any at all. Of course, far too many children have no parental figure or role model in their lives, and the result is predictably sad.Many will call me a softie - or worse - for suggesting spanking won't solve anything. And I'm fine with that.I just believe a parent should lead by example and show your kids the right path in life - instead of just the back of your hand.www.mikeoncrime.com

About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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