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April 2, 2010 permalink
This bizarre story qualifies for inclusion here only because of the comment: "the Children's Aid Society's glowing recommendations about Sinn's parenting skills and support of her regaining full access, calling her `an excellent mother.'"
After moving several times, father Michael Marquette became curious enough to look inside his long-term-partner's smelly boxes. He found that in addition to their three living children, they had three more children who had died at birth. Their mother, Jennifer Sinn, concealed her pregnancies. At this late date there is no way to know whether they died before or after birth, so the story conveniently classifies them as stillbirths. The reporter places most of the blame for the fiasco on the father. There is not enough information to decide between mom and dad, but does this sound like a mother worthy of a glowing recommendation from children's aid?
Grief-stricken mom kept babies' remains on move
They were her babies.
Her grief over the three stillbirths held such a tight grip, Jennifer Sinn couldn't let them go.
She gave them each names. One, a girl, was put in a cardboard box rapped in layers of garbage bags. The body was wrapped in a sheet, a green towel and a grey fleece sweater.
The remains of the second child in a black tote was found in bedding and towels under a toy truck.
The third little corpse in a red tote was a baby boy, dressed in a bonnet, jumper, shirt and diaper.
She had no money to bury them, no ability to figure out what to do and knew her solution "was a bad thing." She was in an abusive relationship and said her spouse had told her "it wasn't his problem."
"I didn't know where else to put them," Sinn later told a psychiatrist.
Yesterday, the 33-year-old London mother of four with no criminal record, pleaded guilty to three charges of offering an indignity to a dead body.
In the "unusual" case, Ontario Court Justice John Skowronski decided Sinn needed support more than jail and sentenced her to three years of probation.
While the focus of the charges was on the discovery of the bodies, the case had as much to do with domestic abuse.
In an agreed statement of facts by the Crown and defence, Skowronski heard Sinn had been in a "volatile relationship" for 15 years with Michael Marquette, the father of three of her four children aged 16, 14, 10 and 17 months. Her oldest is from a previous relationship.
Marquette, who wasn't in court and has moved to Nova Scotia with one of the couple's sons, alerted police last June after moving to London from Brampton.
Assistant Crown attorney Meredith Gardiner described how the boxes were first spotted in the spring of 2007 in a storage unit when the family was facing eviction. Later that year, Marquette's parents were helping him move to an apartment and the boxes were described as having "a very strong, foul odour." Sinn showed up with two Peel Regional Police officers to retrieve the boxes.
Sinn told police as she dragged the boxes away, there was a rotting roast she was keeping "out of spite" because Marquette refused to cook it.
Marquette next saw the boxes at Sinn's father's home where the family was storing belongings after moving to London. They were taken to the Sandford St. address, and on June 6, 2009, while preparing for another move, Marquette looked inside two of them.
Police were called and Sinn arrested. She denied murder or hurting the children. She told police she'd been pregnant but had not told Marquette or had any pre-natal care. She thought Marquette knew because she was showing.
Later, she told an undercover police officer in the cells, "I'm not denying I did it, just the way they're saying it." She said "it" happened six or seven years ago.
Tests done in Toronto on the bodies showed the babies were either full-term or close to it. They may have been dead for months or years. DNA profiles strongly suggested two of the dead infants belonged to the couple. The third was so badly decomposed, a DNA profile couldn't be generated.
Autopsies couldn't determine causes of death or if they'd been live births or stillbirths. One baby had a broken clavicle, likely suffered during birth.
Sinn was re-arrested but gave no statement. She was in custody for 77 days before granted bail. Her father was given temporary custody of her kids.
Defence lawyer Jeanine LeRoy said Sinn told a psychiatrist "that Michael knew" about the babies. She'd kept the corpses and didn't seek help "because of the real lack of support from Mr. Marquette," and "the abuse she and the children suffered at his hands."
The whole family was under stress, but Sinn kept a strong bond with her children.
Her oldest son reported Marquette wouldn't give Sinn and the kids money for food, but she'd always find something "even if she did not eat herself." If Marquette was angry, he'd bring home food, then eat in front of his family without sharing.
Sinn was scared to get pre-natal care because she was scared of Marquette, LeRoy said.
She pointed out the Children's Aid Society's glowing recommendations about Sinn's parenting skills and support of her regaining full access, calling her "an excellent mother." She now lives with her father and the children and has two hours of unsupervised access a day.
A psychiatrist said Sinn had no major mental illness and recommended she have continued counselling and support.
LeRoy asked for a suspended sentence.
Gardiner asked for two years less a day, minus the equivalent of five months Sinn was in custody, that could be a conditional sentence along with three years probation.
Skowronski said Sinn's actions were "repugnant," but he was impressed with the CAS support and noted it appeared Sinn had a real connection with the stillborn babies because she took the remains with her "for years."
He also noted she'd been under intense public scrutiny.
He ordered counselling for grief and stress plus assertiveness training. He also ordered a DNA sample.
The judge noted that "what took place is something you never want to re-live," and the deaths would affect Sinn for life.
He wished her well, saying "it's not likely you will ever be before a court again."
Source: London Free Press