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Empty Nest

May 20, 2008 permalink

Harold Levy posted a story about Angela Cannings, falsely convicted of murdering her own children. Here is an anonymous post in response.



Thank God for the strength of Angela, Trupti, Patty and the thousands of others. Sally, God rest your soul. If not for all of you, I would have shared a similar fate. Somehow the knowledge of what happened in your cases weighed heavily on the minds of some of our accusers. We were spared prison, but the damages that were done are horrific.

Five months after the death of our seven-week-old son, I was six weeks pregnant. I returned home from work late in the evening. My husband, clearly grief stricken said.. sit down. I just took one look at his face and knew something was horribly wrong. I took the stairs three at a time and found the crib empty. I sunk to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Why? Why didn't they listen to me and do a full work up on her? She was the only surviving child from four pregnancies! How could they just look at her and say, she's just fine. My husband picked me up off the floor and said.. she's not dead. She's gone and so is our other daughter. The Children's Aid took them until the police investigation is complete. Relief flooded in. This is just a big mistake. Why would the police investigate us? Why would the Children's Aid think our children needed protection? From who?

Five days later, we appeared in court and found out. Wild accusations flew, we could not protect ourselves, our children. Our home was reopened as a crime scene. We had to prove our innocence. The loss of our beloved son, the loss of our surviving children. The torture of seeing their emotionally ravaged faces, twice weekly, for two hours in a visitation centre.. only to have them torn from our arms, screaming, crying.

This went on for months and months. Twice a week, a visitation supervisor would advise us that we had three minutes left.. Our 14-year-old would dutifully drop everything, pick up our 18-month-old, her face would turn to stone, yet as her mother, I could see the pain etched in the darkened circles under her eyes. I still see the little outstretched hands.. reaching for us as her sister carried her away to a car driven by strangers. We would hide our tears as not to upset our kids. Then breakdown on our way to our own car. Often, we would drive behind them.. all the way home. They were staying less then 4 blocks from our house, in the care of relatives. The tears would flow again, as their car turned at the intersection. Our car had to go straight. Straight home to the emptiness, where once there was so much laughter. My belly was expanding with new life, and what should have been a healing time was turned into a fear so deep. The newspaper tooted.. Infant poisoned, experts confirm, unusual chemical found

This went on for weeks, the news cameras showed up at my home. My phone rang off the hook. I was terrified. I called my parents.. the cameras showed up there too. But we had nothing to tell them. We were not given any information to even begin to form a defence. Our son's autopsy was not made available to us for a further four months. We feared arrest as our home was searched yet again. We did not even know which one of us was the focus of the investigation. We didn't know if I would be giving birth in prison, or in hospital, wife of a prison inmate. My husband prayed it would be him, I prayed I would be me. Both sets of grandparents contemplated admitting culpability but could not come up with a reasonable, plausible, way in which they could have done such a heinous thing. It seemed so hopeless, for so long. We were never charged, therefore we can never be found innocent. We were never jailed, so we can never be set free. We do however, have our children home. Our son, has health challenges. We will always be viewed as suspect. When we go to the hospital, we will always be weighed against our past. If we insist on a test or disagree with a diagnosis or treatment.. rest assured, we will be dragged away from our children in chains.. it has happened. Today, I will fill out our daughters kindergarten registration package that asks about her past. I will fill it out honestly, we have nothing to hide. Pre-School History Form ie Does my child have any fears.. yes. She fears being dragged out of her home at night. She fears that we will get mad at her and send her away.. AGAIN. She is afraid of police. She remembers they helped take her away.. I tremble when a police car is behind me on the road. Will they drag me away for going two miles over the speed limit, because I am a suspect in a crime that never happened? (This fear is getting better with time) but how will the school react to my answer to question 36.. Has your child experienced any significant changes in his/her family life in the past? Birth of a baby, death of a family member, moving, separation.. my response will not fit in the two lines provided. 39. Has your child received assistance from any social services agencies during the preschool years? Family Services, Home Care, CAS? Who will interpret my answer? What will it COST us.. will we survive their Judgement.. or be referred for more SERVICES??? Our answers will form part of her permanent school record. In two years we will have to fill out the same forms for our son. This will never be over for us. This will follow us everywhere. forever. All because of a tissue fixative used in abundance at our sons autopsy. What an effective fixative!!! It FIXED us forever.

May 20, 2008 9:05 AM

Source: comments to Harold Levy blog about Dr Charles Smith

It is only a guess, but this sounds similar to the case of baby Stryker Burke who died at age 55 days. After tissue samples were preserved in a solution containing methanol, a pathologist diagnosed methanol poisoning as the cause of death. So far, only a report by Dr Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati is available on this case, and we have a local copy.