Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.



Failed Adoption

May 3, 2011 permalink

According to the child protection industry, adoption is what every foster child wants. Here is a story that shows that adoption is no bed of roses. Fourteen-year-old Dilan E. Clark murdered his adoptive mother Karen L. Bourdon-Clark in Malone New York.



School counselor dead; son arrested

MURDER CHARGE: Malone Central School is mourning its loss

A guidance counselor at the Malone Central School District is dead and her 14-year-old adopted son is charged with her murder.

"At approximately 2:01 a.m., Franklin County 911 received a call from a 14-year-old female, who reported that her mother was being assaulted at the residence," New York State Police Troop B Commander Maj. Richard C. Smith Jr. said at a Monday press conference.

Maj. Smith said troopers responding to the scene found Karen L. Bourdon-Clark, 45, dead in her home at 15465 Route 30.

"The suspect was identified as Mrs. Bourdon-Clark's 14-year-old son, Dilan E. Clark, who fled the scene as state police arrived," he said.

State police, aided by K-9 units, Malone village police and U.S. Border Patrol agents, searched for the boy in the area surrounding the home for several hours before a resident of 15679 Route 30 contacted troopers and informed them of the teen's location.

"A citizen observed an individual that turned out to be Clark sitting on his front steps," Maj. Smith said, noting the resident was concerned by the teen's presence because of the ongoing police search in the area.

Clark, an eighth-grader at Holy Family School in Malone, was taken into custody without incident, police said. He later was arraigned in Franklin County Court and charged with second-degree murder. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

Essex County District Attorney Kristy L. Sprague is prosecuting the case.

Maj. Smith said Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne sought a special prosecutor because of a personal connection to the Bourdon-Clark family.

Maj. Smith said the 14-year-old girl, Ms. Bourdon-Clark's adopted daughter, was not harmed in the encounter. Ms. Bourdon-Clark's husband, Ronald Clark, was not in the residence at the time of the incident.

"He's a volunteer fireman," Maj. Smith said. "He was assisting with the flooding in Saranac Lake."

Ms. Sprague and Maj. Smith said they are not yet releasing the cause of death, and no motive has been established.

"He's invoking his right to an attorney," Maj. Smith said.

Malone Central School District officials called parents through its automated emergency notification system Monday morning, informing them that Ms. Bourdon-Clark had been murdered.

Ms. Bourdon-Clark, a Massena native who survived an earlier battle with cancer, was being remembered Monday for her dedication to the students.

"She was very compassionate, very sensitive and in tune with needs of our students," Malone Superintendent Wayne C. Walbridge said. "She was very good at communicating with our families. She brought Rachel's Challenge to us."

Mr. Walbridge said Ms. Bourdon-Clark has worked in the district since about 1993. He said she started as a middle school guidance counselor before moving to Flanders Elementary School. She also worked for a time in St. Joseph's Community School last year.

Mr. Walbridge said counselors have been made available to staff and students in the district and will be in the district for several days.

The superintendent said Ms. Bourdon-Clark also was a friend to him and his wife.

"Karen touched the lives of all of us," he said. "It's a tremendous loss all the way around. She was a personal family friend, but even if she wasn't, it would have struck me in a similar way. She was at my grandson's baptism yesterday."

Source: Watertown Daily Times

Addendum: A friend of the murdered woman's family objects to our interpretation of the story. She cites quotations from two news articles (one enclosed below) contending Karen Bourdon-Clark had nothing but love for her adopted children.

The stories show the point of view of the adults toward the boy, Dilan Clark. His side is not told, and given that lawyers will tell him to say nothing, it will probably never be heard. But he expressed himself with an action louder than any words. He was in his adoptive home for eight or nine years, so the killing cannot be blamed on old emotional baggage that the adoptive family had no time to correct. One of the objectives of the fixcas website is to get people less interested in foster/adoptive care and more interested in parental/family care. Unless more facts come to light, there is no reason to change our interpretation of this event.




My name is Kari Harrington. I am a mother, grandmother, foster parent, and adoptive parent, as well as a teacher who now lives in North Carolina. I was a close personal friend of Karen's husband, Ron Clark, when we worked together at St. Joseph's School in Malone, New York. I am appalled at what you wrote in your opening remarks!

I think your introduction:

"According to the child protection industry, adoption is what every foster child wants. Here is a story that shows that adoption is no bed of roses. Fourteen-year-old Dilan E. Clark murdered his adoptive mother Karen L. Bourdon-Clark in Malone New York."

was totally reckless, irresponsible, not necessary, and hurtful (as if they need more!) to the Clark family. You have no idea what the circumstances were that led up to this tragedy. As a foster parent and now adoptive parent of a 6 and 7 year old brother and sister, and the fact that Ron is a personal friend of mine, makes me even more mad that you would introduce this story in that way.

Those who are reponsible, caring, and educated foster parents know exactly what we are getting into when we choose to adopt. It is also the purpose of foster care to reunify the children with their parents if at all possible. In our case, it was not. The father abandoned these children and the mother was mentally incapable of caring for the chldren and they were grossly neglected. Just one of the many instances was they were found in a dumpster at the ages of 3 and 4 looking for food. I would rather take my chances and be assured that these children were fed, loved, taken care of, and all of their needs met the way they should be than not do it at all!

Adoption is both a blessing for the children and the adoptive parents. Cases like what happened with the Clarks are rare. We know these children have emotional baggage that can take years of love, care, counseling, and more to help them move on to be successful adults. We knew that our adoptive children were going to have challenges both emotionally and educationally, but that did not deter us from choosing to adopt. Reckless articles like yours may deter people from thinking about fostering or adopting children who are in need of good, stable, homes. I know that those two children could not have more wonderful parents than they did with the Clarks.

I expect you either do a retraction or an apology to the Clark and post it as soon as possible or I will personally go out there and post what you have written and write a very public rebuttle against what you have said. To say adoption is no bed of roses is ridiculous! It takes a lot of love, dedication, time, and patience, but I wouldn't trade, even at almost 53 years old, what my husband and I chose to do when we adopted our son and daughter.

Kari Harrington

Source: email from Kari Harrington, May 4, 2011

Dilan E Clark
Dilan Clark
P-R Photo

Constable woman stabbed; son charged as an adult with murder

14-year-old son charged with second-degree murder

MALONE — Karen Bourdon died of multiple stab wounds, and her son, Dilan Clark, has been charged as an adult with second-degree murder.

Special Prosecutor Kristy Sprague said Tuesday she could not discuss a possible motive for why the 14-year-old Constable teen could have killed his mother, Karen Bourdon.


At about 2:15 a.m. Monday, police responding to an assault call found Bourdon dead in her home at 15465 Route 30. Dilan had fled, police said.

His sister, Jemal, also 14, had called 911. Their father, Ron Clark, a firefighter, was away helping with flood relief in Saranac Lake.

A four-hour manhunt led to Dilan's arrest at about 6:30 a.m. — he was found sitting on a porch at 15679 Route 30, about a mile away.

A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf during a brief appearance Monday in Franklin County Court.

Dilan is being held at the Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth in Albany, where he was taken after initial processing at the County Jail.

Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said Clark was cooperative and was given routine mental and medical examinations, the results of which, he said, "were normal."

The autopsy, performed Monday by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica at Albany Medical Center, determined the cause of death to be multiple stab wounds.


Karen Bourdon spent Sunday laughing with family and friends, attending church and helping her kids with their homework.

Wayne Walbridge is superintendent of Malone Central School District, where Bourdon worked as a counselor. He and his wife, Michelle, are very close friends of the Bourdon-Clark family.

He said he "loves Dilan like a son and Jemal like a daughter."

Walbridge saw the family during church services and afterwards on Sunday.

"They were all happy. The kids even had a water-balloon fight."

An aunt spoke to Bourdon about 8 p.m., "and the kids were gleeful."

Walbridge couldn't imagine any circumstances that would have resulted in such a horrific event.

"There is no question in my mind that Dilan doesn't even know what happened," he said. "I can't give you any explanation. It just doesn't fit," he said. "You wouldn't just do that, walk a mile and sit down on a porch.

"I'm not a behavioral specialist, but maybe there is some kind of psychological issue. I don't think it was premeditated or there was a trigger event that would have made this happen."

He said the Clarks adopted Jemal from Guatemala when she was 15 or 16 months old and Dilan when he was 5 or 6. Dilan is an eighth-grader at Holy Family School in Malone.

"There wasn't a more loving family," Walbridge said.


The magnitude of loss and disbelief surrounding the murder was again evident Tuesday, as students, colleagues, friends and relatives struggled to cope with her death and Dilan's arrest.

Grief counselors were in the schools for a second day, talking with students and staff and offering assistance.

The superintendent said Brushton-Moira Central and Salmon River Central schools sent counselors to Malone, and Chateaugay Central offered its staff, as well.

Hospice of the North Country also sent personnel, and several representatives from different churches in the area were also there, Walbridge said.

Funeral services were still being arranged Tuesday by Bourdon's husband. They are expected to be held in Massena, where her extended family lives.

Walbridge said the district is carrying on and would not cancel classes or provide transportation for students, faculty and staff who may want to attend Bourdon's memorial services.

"We think it's important that the parents make the decision on that," the superintendent said.


A preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. Friday in Constable Town Court, "but we're not sure if that is going to happen," said Sprague, who is Essex County district attorney.

She was appointed special prosecutor in the case because Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne has a close relationship with the Bourdon-Clark family.

"(The defense) has the right to waive that hearing," Sprague said, "and we don't know, at this point, if they are going to do that."

The preliminary hearing determines if there is enough initial evidence to have the case reassigned to Franklin County Court, where it could be presented to a grand jury.

The State Police Troop "B" Forensic Identification Unit have finished processing the crime scene and have seized numerous pieces of evidence, accordign to a news release issued Tuesday night.

Steve Vanier of the Malone law firm of Poissant, Nichols, Grue and Vanier is Dilan's defense attorney, Sprague said.


On Tuesday, Walbridge had not yet spoken with Mr. Clark, "but I know their dad will be there for his Dilan and daughter. It's got to be a difficult time for Jemal.

"Jemal said how she was more than a mother," Walbridge remembered. "She was her best friend.

"She was so proud of her mother," he continued, referring to Bourdon's commitment to Rachel's Challenge. The national program, which encourages safe learning environments at schools, was created in honor of Rachel Scott, the first student murdered in the Columbine massacre in Colorado on April 20, 1999.

"It's ironic that Karen brought this program here (to the district) to teach people about kindness, compassion and understanding," Walbridge said. "And that is what we will remember.

"She is someone you never, never forget."

Source: Press-Republican