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Respect, sensitivity for Candace, family

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2011 (2753 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ON Jan. 17, 1985, Winnipeg youngster Mike McMcIntyre and his family were celebrating his 10th birthday, but an unanticipated sorrow overshadowed the occasion.

As the Free Press justice reporter notes in the preface to this sophisticated true-crime book, that was the day the frantic and prolonged search for a local missing child ground to a painful end. The body of 13-year-old Candace Derksen was found bound and frozen in an industrial storage shed.

She had been abducted off the street on an ordinary walk home from school, the beginning of a tragedy that frightened Mc-Intyre as a child, haunted him as an adult, and eventually became the focus of Journey for Justice, his fifth crime book.

Like the McIntyre family, most of the city of Winnipeg had followed the search for Candace. Her disappearance and death were an emotional watershed for a community that had long believed itself a safe place for kids.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2011 (2753 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ON Jan. 17, 1985, Winnipeg youngster Mike McMcIntyre and his family were celebrating his 10th birthday, but an unanticipated sorrow overshadowed the occasion.

As the Free Press justice reporter notes in the preface to this sophisticated true-crime book, that was the day the frantic and prolonged search for a local missing child ground to a painful end. The body of 13-year-old Candace Derksen was found bound and frozen in an industrial storage shed.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES
Wilma and Cliff Derksen speak to the media after Grant�s murder conviction last February.

POSTMEDIA JOHN.WOODS@FREEPRESS.M

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Wilma and Cliff Derksen speak to the media after Grant�s murder conviction last February.

She had been abducted off the street on an ordinary walk home from school, the beginning of a tragedy that frightened Mc-Intyre as a child, haunted him as an adult, and eventually became the focus of Journey for Justice, his fifth crime book.

Like the McIntyre family, most of the city of Winnipeg had followed the search for Candace. Her disappearance and death were an emotional watershed for a community that had long believed itself a safe place for kids.

Mark Edward Grant, a vagrant with a hard-luck childhood, several mental disabilities and a history of criminal acts, was convicted 26 years later of the little girl’s second-degree murder, becoming the city’s bona fide bogeyman.

Crime writers are often known to be coldhearted in their narratives, indeed probably need to be, in order to remain emotionally intact to tell the next story.

In Journey for Justice, however, McIntyre writes with exceptional respect and sensitivity. He attributes this partly to his relationship with Candace’s parents, Cliff and Wilma Derksen, whom he describes as "two of the strongest, most courageous people" he has ever met. He got to know them, he writes, while covering the Grant trial.

McIntyre has obviously honed his skills on his previous books, among them Devil Among Us (about pedophile Peter Whitmore) and Nowhere to Run (about the murder of RCMP Const. Dennis Stronquill), both of which were also published by Winnipeg’s Great Plains Publications.

 

Any misgivings that McIntyre’s emotional attachment to the story or to the Derksen family might prejudice his account are quickly forgotten as it becomes obvious that his interviews with them are accompanied by countless interviews with police, with jurists, with mental-health workers and by a rigorous inclusion of court testimony.

Readers who want to know more about "the angel squad" of devoted police officers who stayed with and cracked the 25-yearold cold case will be satisfied, as will readers who want to know more about the murderer now behind bars.

While McIntyre walks us through the facts and chronology of the story, he calls on the voice of Wilma to ponder the most intimate impact of her daughter’s death, frequently foreshadowing a chapter with excerpts from her own eloquent book, Have You Seen Candace?, published in 1991.

It’s an effective device that builds credibility and adds a deeply personal dimension to what might have turned out in less capable hands as "just another police file."

Journey for Justice is an important addition to the library of books about the city’s history. Along with the complex emotional and spiritual shock of the Derksen murder, McIntyre has captured the many positive changes that followed in its wake, new networks for the prevention of crimes against children and support for families suffering from life-threatening emotional injuries such as the Derksen family experienced.

During Grant’s often confusing trial, Wilma noted that she wanted somebody to write the whole story out for her in a way she could understand, a small enough request in light of what she has suffered.

Journey for Justice has come closer to doing that than anything published before it.

 

Winnipeg writer and broadcaster Lesley Hughes covered the Derksen case in the 1980s.

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