Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A mother's grief turns to rage

Bernice Sampson, left, mother of Katelynn Sampson, is comforted by a friend, as the look at the second story apartment where Katelynn was found dead.

TORONTO -- Following the first court appearance on Monday by the woman accused of killing seven year-old Katelynn Sampson, the girl's mother had blunt words for her daughter's alleged murderer, a former family friend who had been caring for the child for several months.

"I want to kill her, but what can I do?" Bernice Sampson, the dead girl's mother, told reporters as she was rushed into a car by a knot of friends.

Moments earlier, Ms. Sampson sat in the front of a small courtroom in the basement of Old City Hall as a justice of the peace remanded Donna Irving, 29, into custody until her next court appearance on Aug. 15. She has been charged with second-degree murder. Court staff struggled to maintain decorum during the brief hearing, with the justice of the peace threatening to clear the room if the crowd did not remain quiet. Anger was evident as the throng left the room following the accused's appearance.

"You'll still rot in jail," one woman yelled.

Wearing a black and white print blouse, Ms. Sampson expressed bewilderment at her former friend's alleged actions.

"Why didn't she kill [her children]? Why did she kill mine?" she wondered aloud as she waited for the hearing to begin.

Others echoed that question on Monday, wondering how a situation that was suppose to provide comfort for the young girl had resulted in her death.

One person who on Monday saw the hallway outside the second-floor apartment where the girl died described blood stains and handprints along the walls.

Katelynn had been living with the accused, her boyfriend and their two sons for approximately eight months while Ms. Sampson dealt with unspecified personal issues, friends told the National Post on Monday.

Police say the accused called 911 at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, claiming that Katelynn choked on food. But when officers responded, they noted obvious signs of trauma on her body. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

Neither Warren Johnson, the accused's boyfriend, nor the couple's own children were home when the death took place, according to Detective Sergeant Steve Ryan of the Toronto Police. Mr. Johnson is not considered a suspect.

Ms. Sampson told reporters on Sunday she had known Ms. Irving for at least a decade. Friends said on Monday that both Mr. Johnson and Ms. Sampson had family ties to Nova Scotia and it was likely that Mr. Johnson originally introduced the two women.

Friends describe Ms. Sampson as a proud mother who had struggled in recent years.

Police are still unsure of whether the accused had legal custody of Katelynn, Det. Sgt. Ryan said.

"What I'm hearing is that the Family Court awarded Donna Irving custody of this little girl, but we won't be able to confirm that until [Tuesday]," he said.

Investigators have also heard allegations that the young girl was abused prior to her death but have not yet confirmed those claims, Det. Sgt. Ryan said.

Police say the suspect has two other children that do not live with her and a criminal record that includes violent offences.

As investigators continued their work on Monday, a memorial to the chubby-cheeked seven-year-old victim grew outside the apartment building where she lived. Among the lit candles and stuff animals were messages that read "we will all miss you" and "rest in peace."

National Post, with files from Mary Vallis

Original Article - A mother's grief turns to rage

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where was her biological mother when her daughter was being so severely abused? She is the one who recommended this woman to be the guardian of her child. Reports are indicating that there is severe (and it's not all new) trauma to the body - unless her mother hasn't seen her daughter since January there is no way she didn't know what was going on. This poor child had to endure undescribable things. She is the victim here, not her biological mother who for "personal reasons" was unable to care for her own child and placed her in the care of her murderer. She is responsible for what's happened too - it's not the "system's" fault entirely. It is a parent's responsibility to care for their child - and this greiving mother shares some responsibility. This story makes me sick - this poor child - may she rest in peace.