Archive for October 4th, 2011

Life Does Not Mean Life Even For Serial Killers

It was a bright day for justice when legislation allowing consecutive sentences for multiple murderers was given royal assent earlier this year.

The prospect of serial killers being eligible for parole after 10 or 25 years, depending on whether it was second-degree or first-degree murder, has grated on Canadians and caused immense anguish for victims’ families.

Fortunately, the federal Conservatives closed that despicable loophole, ending sentence discounts for multiple murderers. The law permits judges to impose consecutive periods of parole ineligibility on people convicted of more than one murder.

So when Joseph Laboucan, 26, was swiftly convicted of first-degree murder Monday — his second murder conviction in four years — I expected Canadian judicial history to be made in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench.

In 2007, Laboucan was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the sadistic rape-murder of 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte, who was lured away from West Edmonton Mall on April 3, 2005.

Two days earlier, Laboucan killed prostitute Ellie May Meyer, 33, after picking her up on 118 Avenue with two friends. He had sex with her in a field, beat her to death and cut off part of her left pinkie finger as a trophy.

Laboucan, I assumed, would be the first serial killer in Canada to be hammered with consecutive sentences. He’s got another 21 years to serve for Courtepatte’s murder before he can apply for parole, so adding another 25-year parole ineligibility period would mean he’d spend 46 years in the clink before being considered for release.

Alas, I was far too optimistic. Even though Laboucan’s most recent murder conviction was handed down Monday, the new legislation doesn’t apply to him.

Why? Because the murders took place before the legislation was passed. And because of another legal technicality: although the law received royal assent in March, it’s still not in effect. The law is to come into force on some future date set by the Governor General. It makes you want to rip your hair out.

Not only must this be demoralizing for the families of Courtepatte and Meyer, it will be a shock to the relatives of all the Alberta women who’ve gone missing (and were presumably murdered) over the years.

Even if a serial killer is caught, he will be eligible for parole after 25 years, no matter how many people he killed.

In Laboucan’s case, he committed two murders for the price of one. Clifford Olson, the poster boy of savagery now dying of cancer, committed 11 murders for the price of one — with the right to apply for parole every two years after he’d spent 25 years in jail.

As former Alberta prosecutor Scott Newark points out, it’s as if all the other victims are of no consequence.

“The way our law was designed so many years ago, nobody … ever really thought through all of that,” he says.

It’s too bad Laboucan couldn’t have been hit with a 46-year sentence, adds Newark. He figures federal justice officials were leery of allowing the new law to apply in previous murders, even if the killers aren’t caught until later. “I refer to it as charter angst,” says Newark.

Laboucan isn’t eligible for parole until he serves 25 years of his latest sentence, says Crown prosecutor Doug Taylor.

“With or without the new parole eligibility requirements, the reality of two life sentences is he will likely be in prison the rest of his life.”

Sorry, but that’s little comfort to those who were hoping for harsher justice for serial killers.

Mindelle Jacobs

Edmonton Sun

Mindelle Jacobs has been a columnist with the Edmonton Sun for more than a decade. She writes on a variety of topics, including crime, immigration, health, social issues and current events of the day. 


I agree Ms. Jacobs. Excellent article, I hope that the judges listen!

A little information on Laboucan:


Laboucan, who is already serving a life sentence for the murder of 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte, pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder in the death of the sex trade worker back in April 2005. Still, his lawyers did not present any evidence or challenge any Crown exhibits.

Submitted for consideration was testimony from the preliminary hearing, where an eyewitness said she saw Laboucan chasing and repeatedly swinging something at Meyer’s head.

Multiple people also swore the now 26-year-old showed off a severed pinky finger, which the accused told them was a souvenir from one of his victims. DNA later confirmed the body part belonged to the 33-year-old street worker.

In delivering his decision, the judge said he believed the testimony of one youth who said Laboucan got an adrenaline rush from killing Meyer, and wanted to do it again.

RCMP believe just days after Laboucan killed the Edmonton woman and dumped her body in a field, he led Courtepatte to a golf course just outside the city, and committed the second murder.

The Crown says through Courtepatte’s case, they were able to gather key DNA evidence that tied the accused to Meyer’s death.

Whole article here


It is such a scary thought that serial killers can be released.

We know that they do not ‘get better’. We can not ‘cure’ them, the only behavior modification that works is death.

How many bodies will court systems allow to pile up before we stop letting serial killers out?

South African Serial Killer?

Four violent murders in which gay men were bound and strangled to death have police and forensic specialists investigating the possibility that a serial killer, or homophobic group, is stalking Joburg’s gay community.

All of the victims, discovered in the past 10 months, were found tied up and strangled inside private homes within the greater Joburg area – with police recording no signs of forced entry.

Police working on all four cases believe the minimal theft means robbery was not a motive. It is believed the lack of break-ins may mean the victims knew their would-be killers and could actually have invited them in.

The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19. The murder was discovered by security guards, after they noticed his car gate was open and his front door unlocked.

Police believe Van Heerden may have known his attacker or attackers, as half-full glasses of wine were found on the kitchen table. Since the incident was reported, distraught relatives, friends and other members of the gay community have come forward, describing other recent violent crimes that seemed similar.

Three of these reported murders bear striking similarities to Van Heerden’s case.

In the first attack in December 2010, Jim Cathels was found at his home in Berea. He had been strangled and bound, and there were no signs of forced entry.

Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, had been house-sitting in Kensington for friend and author Ivan Vladislavic. He was bound and strangled by an unknown assailant or assailants. His body was discovered a few days later, when the author returned home from the UK.

Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, was killed in a similar manner at his flat in Kliptown, Soweto, on September 11, a week before Van Heerden’s death. One element set his murder apart: his killer(s) poured acid on the body after his death from asphyxiation.

Forensic specialist Dr Mark Welman said two facets of a group of killings can help to identify a serial killer: repetitive patterns in modus operandi and similarities in victims. A serial killer may leave “signatures” that multiple investigating officers might miss if the dockets are not centralised and investigated together.

“It would be remiss of investigating authorities to not consider possible links, and they should certainly be drawing on their specialised behavioural science unit on these cases,” said Welman, when given details of the four murders.

Yet, more than 10 months after the first victim was discovered, police have yet to bring in a task team.

Welman acknowledged that the acid poured on Nhlapo was a major difference in modus operandi, but the killer may have been attempting to destroy DNA evidence that he or she may have left on the victim.

“What I find noteworthy is that all of the victims were strangled. Apart from the fact that this represents a thematic connection between the cases, let’s also note that to strangle a victim, the killer either has to be considerably stronger, or have the victim at some disadvantage. If they are bound, they obviously cannot fight back.

“But a perpetrator operating alone might find it hard to tie a victim up. So one also would not want to rule out the possibility that the perpetrator had one or more accomplices,” he added.

Sex games could have been involved. Violence or threats of violence could make someone allow themselves to be tied up. If you think a person just wants to rob you and will let you live you might allow yourself to be restrained.

A blow to the head would also ‘work’.

The victims could have been drugged or even just drunk.

All four of the victims were said to have internet savvy, and The Star confirmed that at least two of them had profiles registered on gay dating websites that they used to meet other men.

Welman has warned that those who fit the victim’s profile should remain cautious of inviting strangers into their homes.

Article Here

I am doubting a homophobic group. If they are found in homes with no signs of forced entry they probably knew the killer. The wine mentioned hints at an intimate meeting, not necessarily sexual but private at least.

The acid bath might also have been a trial run. A budding serial killer sometimes experiments. Acid is nasty and not as easy as some might think to work with. There is also the smell that comes from pouring acid on a body.

I hope the South African police begin to get an investigation team together soon.

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