Katie Lynn Baker ~1986 ~ 1996

In 1996 weighing twenty-two pounds, ten-year-old Katie Lynn Baker died of starvation. To add to this tragedy, social workers investigating the case knew that Katie Lynn was dying, but failed to take any action to save her.  The coroner ruled her death a homicide.  Katie had Rhett Syndrome. The criminal justice branch of the BC Ministry of the Attorney-General released its report in December 1999, stating that it will not be laying charges because "there is no likelihood of conviction."  

Chelsea Craig ~ 1987 ~ March 19, 2001

"For us, she was just a delightful child who wanted to learn and develop and grow and was open to all kinds of new things . . .Our eyes light up when we think of her."  Darlene Berringer, director of Giant Steps school in Westmount.

 

 

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True Story Of The Murder Of A Child  By Dick Sobsey, 14 May 2005

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Chelsea Craig

bullet We don't justify killing but we know the desperation
bullet Montreal woman charged in handicapped daughter's death fit to stand trial
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Julia Roberts, narrates and is featured in the program, SILENT ANGELS http://www.rettsyndrome.org/content.asp?contentid=627 Julia, made the decision to help raise public awareness of Rett Syndrome when she met a little girl with the disease named Abigail Brodsky. All it took was one smile, and Julia became involved. Ms. Roberts is featured in the film alongside Abigail.

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RETT SYNDROME ~ MORE HELP SITES . . .

 

Katie Lynn Baker, commentary by Cheryl Eckstein

 

News of a child who is murdered is disturbing and serious.  It is very difficult for us to understand how a parent can kill their own child. The death of Katie Lynn Baker is no exception.  Katie Lynn was only 10 years old when her mother claimed she wanted to die.  Katie had Rhett Syndrome. (RS)  Briefly,  RS affects only females Due to the rarity of RS, and lack of records, very little is known about long term prognosis and life expectancy. While there are a few women in their 40's and 50's who have RS, there have been too few women studied to make reliable estimates beyond age 40. The International Rhett Syndrome Association (IRSA) says that 93% of those diagnosed and have reported to IRSA are still living. IRSA says “Although she may be at higher risk for life–threatening events such as pneumonia, choking and seizures, it is very likely that your daughter will live a long life.”  Katie’s weight at death was 22 pounds – which is what a normal 2- 3 year old would weigh. The coroner ruled her death a homicide. The criminal justice branch of the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney-General released its report in December 1999, stating that it will not be laying charges because "there is no likelihood of conviction."  The ruling on Katie Lynn’s death may be the most foreboding of all decisions relating to so-called mercy killing in Canada.

Let us for a moment look outside of Canada for similar tragic deaths and rulings. In 2004 Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signed  Execution Warrant for Michelle Sue Tharp. Michelle is on death row awaiting her lethal injection for starving her seven year old daughter to death. A German couple starved little 7-year-old Jessica to death; both received a life sentence. Germany abolished the death penalty in 1949. These are just 2 examples from many such cases I researched where parent(s) were found guilty of first degree murder for starving a child to death.  None of victims were reported as having a disability. The one case I found where a 35- year-old woman with a disability was starved to death happened in 2004. Karen Dreager was in the care of her sister, Debra McMahon.  Debra was sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to second degree murder. Karen had C.P. Her lawyer argued she was doing the best she could and that she did offer food but she didn't eat because of a medical condition she didn't know about."  Furthermore she argued her client was only trying to fulfill their mother's dying wish, that Karen not go into a nursing home.   

The ruling in Katie Lynn Baker case is ominous and may rightly be considered in decriminalizing homicide of children with disabilities or creating a new so called compassionate homicide  law .

On the 14th day of being dehydrated and starved Terri Schiavo died, March 31, 2005. The whole world knew about Terri, and people were praying, hoping for a miracle from the courts.  That same year Dylan Walborn, Broomfield, Colorado, “was a victim of America’s “mercy-killing,” euthanasia movement. Judged better off dead by Denver’s Children’s Hospital, Porter Hospice, a Denver social worker, Dylan's public school teachers, and the Denver Post, four-year-old Dylan was starved to death over a period of twenty-four days.”

 Somehow, before he died, we didn’t hear about this child.  Like Katie Lynn Baker, Chelsea Craig, and Terri Schiavo, Dylan was not dying, he was not terminally ill.  Terri Schiavo, Dylan Walborn were two innocent defenseless human beings who were legally murdered, and it’s called compassion!  Mercy!

  “In a sidebar to the main article, Dr. Stefan Mokrohisky, chair of the ethics committee at Denver's Children's Hospital says, "I guess you could say that even the medical intervention to provide the nutrition is no longer a benefit when compared with the burden of current existence."’

Our Government does not work in a vacuum. When studying euthanasia, the Canadian government and Senate considered local consultation and investigations to see whether laws which have passed in other parts of the world should be adopted in Canada.  The courts study rulings from other courts outside of Canada and are referred to when so-called mercy killing cases come before them, such as with Terri Schiavo.  There is little doubt in my mind that the decisions in Katie Lynn Baker and Dylan Walborn will be cited in future so called mercy killings.

We are very grateful for advocates like Catherine Frazee, Hugh Scher, Dick Sosby, NOT DEAD YET’s Diane Coleman and Steven Drake, just to mention a few, but each and everyone of us needs to be extremely vocal in defense of our most vulnerable and the exiting laws.  We cannot forget that in 1995, a majority of the Senate Committee studying euthanasia favoured a less severe penalty for homicide in which there is a clear element of compassion.  I have cited a few contributions from disability  advocates which you will be able to easily access when visiting CHN. 

At the inquest, Katie’s mother Cheryl McLean, claimed that Katie told her she wanted to die, but her primary caregiver testified that she felt Katie Lynn was trying to communicate that she wanted to live. Eike-Henner Kluge Canadian bioethicist testified at the inquest that children should have the "right to die" even if they do not ask to do so. Outraged, Cal Lambeth, a parent of a child with a disability said, "Since when do we allow children to choose death? There is much case law in Canada where social services agencies step in to take custody of the child. This is when the child is considered at risk because the parents are refusing treatment for their child's life threatening medical condition. ..Parents do not own their children. They are not chattels or property to be disposed of at the option of their parents. There can be no doubt that bringing about the premature and planned death of one's child is completely contrary to the obligation of providing necessities for children." Katie Lynn's father, Dale Baker, remarked in an interview, "I don't think I would have been able to sit there and have anyone ask Katie 'do you want to die?' and be confident that her response was 'Yes I want to die.' "

 We might want to ask, where was the father during the time she was starving to death and claiming to want to die?  

A most appalling and alarming made for television movie was released in 2002, called Society’s Child.  It is based on the story of Katie Lynn Baker.  Dick Sobsey describes the film as providing “the most biased and unapologetic endorsement for killing children with disabilities of any ever produced.”  True Story Of The Murder Of A Child - By Dick Sobsey.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0270651/usercomments   see also, Crown Will Not Lay Charges in Death of Katie Lynn Baker   http://www.ccdonline.ca/publications/latimer-watch/1299.htm

 

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 True Story Of The Murder Of A Child - By Dick Sobsey, 14 May 2005

Last night Canada's CBC television network aired Society's Child. Although names were changed, the film, originally released in 2002, takes pains to let the audience know that it is based on a true story of Katie Lynn Baker who had Rett syndrome and was starved to death by her mother in 1996.

It's difficult to know why the CBC chose to re-air the film now. Perhaps during the tense weeks of Terry Schiavo's starvation, CBC execs got the idea to insert Canada's very on "feeding-tube-and-starvation" melodrama into the line-up.

This film provides the most biased and unapologetic endorsement for killing children with disabilities of any ever produced.It should not and cannot be appropriately be compared with the so-called Nazi euthanasia films of the 1930s, such as Wolfgang Liebeneiner's Ich klage an (I accuse) (1941), which was shown at the War Crimes Trials after World War II. As Liebeniner points out, his film was "rejected as evidence because it had 'nothing to do with the crimes (euthanasia program) on the indictment... The film's purpose was to test whether public opinion would approve of a law sanctioning death on demand with certain medical and legal safeguards." (quote from Liebeniner letter, 1965). This film cannot be compared with Liebeneiner's work because it goes much further openly endorsing the actions of the mother who killed her child, and suggesting that she was merely carrying out the clearly communicated wishes of her daughter, while condemning all those who questioned the right of a mother to kill her child.

Make no mistake, the killing of Katie Lynn Baker was an important episode in Canadian History. If Canada goes down the road to euthanasia, the Katie Lynn Baker case may rightly been considered as an important step in decriminalizing homicide of children with disabilities. It is important to remember that the inquest after Katie Lynn Baker's death ruled that she died as a result of homicide but that the BC crown simply decided not to prosecute because "there is no likelihood of conviction" (BC Ministry of the Attorney General, 2 December 1999). This was not based on a lack of evidence of the cause of death or who was responsible, but rather the notion that Canada as a society felt okay about mothers killing their 10-year-old daughters, under the right circumstances. In this case the right circumstances mean "when the child has a severe disability." Of course the made-for-TV drama conveniently leaves out that the death was ruled a homicide. Not surprisingly, they leave out most of the facts that did not fit with their unabashed celebration of the killing of a ten- year-old child. In general, this movie is based on the real case in the same way that a film about America's victory in Viet Nam is based in reality.

However, if they have left out the facts they have added lots of delusions to take their place. They take pains to make it clear that this child had a severe physical disability but no cognitive disability and to show her clearly and independently communicating her choice to be starved to death. In fact, no one but her mother claimed that Katie made such a communication. Most experts claimed she was physically and probably mentally unable to make such an independent communication and her primary caregiver claimed that that Katie was communicating and pleading to live, not be killed. Most disturbingly, the film uses a cheap voice over narration device to tell the story from the perspective of the child who is killed. This allows the story to be told celebrating killing as the right thing to do.

This device of putting words in the mouth of the victim to celebrate the perpetrator is pretty cheap and might be applied to any homicide victim to provide ringing endorsements of their killers. Perhaps sometime in the future, the CBC will bring us stories narrated by Andera Yates', Clfford Olson's or Paul Bernardo's victims celebrating the people who killed them and revealing that these child killers were really determined and altruistic advocates for children. I hope not. Of course, the CBC could say they are not really endorsing this or they could say that the opinions of Dennis Foon, who wrote this, Buffalo Gal Productions, and Sienna Pictures are not necessarily their opinions just because they ran the film, but that would not be consistent with their program description on their website. They characterize the film as "a story of unconditional love."

bulletChelsea Craig

On March 19, 2001 Rachel Craig gave her 14 year old daughter, Chelsea, a deadly mixture of drugs, and then drank some of the mixture herself. Chelsea died in the family's home, but her mother survived to face charges of first-degree murder. Chelsea, like Katie Lynn, had Rett syndrome, a condition that only affects girls. Most girls who have Rett syndrome, including Chelsea, do not talk and are not able to walk.  A judge ruled that Rachel was not responsible for her daughter's death after psychiatrists said her problems were likely caused by a combination of a family history of mental illness, her own history of abuse and the stress caused by Chelsea's disability. The two psychiatrists made it clear they did not believe that Chelsea's death was a mercy killing like that of Tracy Latimer, "This is not a Latimer case. This is not a mercy killing,"  stressed Dr. Fugure.  

Even though Rachel had a history of attempted suicide, she was allowed a second unsupervised outing.  Her body as found at the address she had given to 911 in July 2002.

 

 

 

bulletWe don't justify killing but we know the desperation

by Peter and Linda York

It was with great sadness we heard the story about the Quebec mother who allegedly killed her disabled child and then tried to kill herself ("Montreal mother on death watch," March 22).

We know most people will not understand her actions and will be quick to condemn her. But most people will not realize the frustrations, disappointments and stress that will lead a person to that state of mind.

We are the parents of a disabled 19-year-old daughter. The stress of taking care of her has taken its toll physically and mentally on both of us. The stress nearly ended our marriage last year.

We have been writing to cabinet ministers, supervisors, board members and anybody who will listen in a desperate plea for help. It is sad to admit but we can no longer take care of our daughter and wish to have her placed in Fort Frances where we could take her out for afternoons or home for a few days so we can still be a part of her life.

We expressed our view in a letter on Dec. 4, 2000, that we sent to John Baird, Ontario minister of community and social services.

"When I read about a parent who felt they were at the end of their rope and has committed suicide or injured their child, I certainly don't justify their actions but I can certainly understand the frustration that drove them to that state of mind. All parties involved must realize when a tragedy like that happens, they are also responsible for what happened. It doesn't matter how they try to justify it in their minds, the end result is somebody who needed help was ignored and they have to realize the blame falls on their shoulders as well as others."

The Association for Community Living's mandate states: "We believe that a wide range of quality community residential settings and individualized personal supports, consistent with the principles of community living, must be readily available and that people have the right to choose where and with whom they live."

"Residential services and supports should be provided so that people can live in their own community in self-owned homes or housing operated by independent, non-profit community-based organizations."

It is the government's position that the association should place and help those in need. It is an admirable gesture and makes the officials look good on paper.

The problem is that we have been fighting to get help for our daughter and the only answer we get is "no funding available." We have asked everybody from the cabinet minister down and in the end we get the same answer.

People may understand our frustrations when we read news articles that Canada's military may spend as much as $500 million U.S. to help the United States build a stealth fighter jet. Perhaps if this money was used to help people like us or the mother in Quebec, her daughter would still be alive and she wouldn't be in the hospital from an attempted suicide.

So before people judge her and say she should have sought help, maybe she did seek help and she kept getting the same answers we have been -- no funding.

Peter and Linda York, Fort Frances, Ont. The Ottawa Citizen Friday 23 March 2001

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/letters/010323/5052893.html

bulletMontreal woman charged in handicapped daughter's death fit to stand trial

April 4, 2001

MONTREAL (CP) - A woman charged with murder after her handicapped daughter consumed what police called a "poison cocktail" has been declared fit to stand trial. Rachel Capra Craig, 46, underwent a psychiatric evaluation after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chelsea Craig, 14, last month.

The woman was ordered during a brief court appearance on Wednesday to return to the Pinel Institute for further psychiatric care.

Craig looked ahead and had no visible emotion as she heard that her next court appearance will be June 11.

Her husband, Jim Craig, was present in the courtroom but displayed no emotion. He did not speak to reporters.

No plea has been entered in the case. One of Craig's lawyers, Marc David, said that is normal procedure on first-degree murder charges and that any plea would be entered only after a preliminary hearing.

Chelsea Craig had a rare brain disorder called Rett's syndrome, which impedes the ability to communicate verbally, control body movements or breathe normally. She was unable to talk or to feed herself.

Police have said she died after consuming a "poison cocktail" at the family residence in suburban Pointe-Claire. Her mother is also believed to have taken the concoction. Prosecutor Helene Morin said the delay until June 11 will allow the Crown enough time to give its evidence to the defence lawyers.  "Mrs. Craig is fit to stand trial, which means she understands the nature of the accusation against her and she can discuss the matter with her lawyer," Morin said.

David said earlier Wednesday that Craig has been getting plenty of support from the public.

"Mrs. Craig wishes to express her gratitude to her husband, to her family and to her friends as well as to the public for the show of support she is receiving during this ordeal," he said.

"The expressions of support are by way of letters, faxes, by e-mail. So it's encouraging for her."

The case has drawn comparisons with the death of Tracy Latimer. Latimer, 12, suffered from cerebral palsy when she was gassed to death in 1993 as she faced another painful operation. The girl had been unable to walk, talk or feed herself.

Her father, Robert Latimer, a farmer from Wilkie, Sask., was convicted of second-degree murder but maintains he only wanted to stop her suffering. Latimer will not be eligible for day parole until Dec. 8, 2007.

Updated 5:26 PM ET April 4, 2001http://news.excite.com/news/cp/010404/17/montreal-woman-charged?printstory=1

In a footnote to the above: Even though Rachel had a history of attempted suicide, she was allowed a second unsupervised outing.  Her body as found at the address she had given to 911 in July 2002.

bullet "Giant Steps has a special program for children who suffer from Rett's Syndrome, a genetic disorder that occurs in one in many thousands of baby girls. The syndrome, which rarely affects boys, impedes the ability to communicate verbally, plan and execute body movements and breathe normally."  http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/pages/010321/5040281.html

bulletRETT SYNDROME  ~ MORE SITE HELPS: Canadian: http://members.home.net/rettsyndromeontario/
bulletMore Links: http://www.rettsyndrome.org/   http://members.tripod.com/~conniecoughlin/livingwrs.html   http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/rettfrm.html

 
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