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St Catharines Rally
October 17, 2011 permalink
A Buffalo TV station covered the death of Marissa Whalen and the St Catharines rally in the same article. Here is a local copy (mp4) of the news video.
Mom charged in murder of her toddler
FORT ERIE, O.N. (WIVB) - A mother sits behind bars, charged in the murder of her own baby. The child disappeared in July, but no one reported her missing until months later.
The remains of 2-year-old Marissa Whalen of Fort Erie were found Sunday in a wooded area of Indian reservation land about two hours north of the Niagara region in Ontario. The murder has struck a deep chord in the community.
Court observer Christine Enns said, "It is a tragedy. A huge tragedy. This child was failed. It's awful."
A woman named Rainbow Hill has been charged with second degree murder. The child's mother, Roseanne Whalen, who is said to have a relationship with Hill, has also been charged with accessory to murder, as was a third woman, Amanda DiPota. Demonstrators in St. Catherines believe more could have been done to protect Marissa when the warning signs became apparent.
Court observer Cherie Clark said, "There's been numerous reports, period. 50 reports at least, and the child should have been removed from the home."
Marissa had been missing since July, but authorities say they were not notified until this month.
Former family friend Caroline Day said, "How did not anyone notice that a child had gone missing for the last four months? How didn't a grandparent not report it? How did a neighbor, you know, not simply see a child not coming in and out on a mother's hip?"
The group called Canada Court Watch is working to create an Ombudsman program for people in Ontario's Children's Aid Society. People like Marissa, they say, need someone to intervene if a case is mishandled.
Bobbie-Jo Gellner of Canada Court Watch questioned, "There is a need for child protective services. If they're not going to follow through with complaints, what are they doing?"
Authorities have not said how or why Marissa was killed, but her death has led to a rallying cry for better oversight in the handling of children's cases in Ontario.
The St Catharines Standard story includes an online video of Bobbie-Jo Gellner from the rally.
Court appearance for third woman accused in Marissa case
Amanda Dipota, 30, is sister of co-accused Rainbow Hill
The third woman charged in connection with the disappearance of Fort Erie toddler Marissa Whalen appeared briefly in court Monday morning.
Amanda Dipota, 30, of Niagara Falls, was charged Sunday with accessory after the fact to murder and indignity to human remains.
Dipota is the older sister of Rainbow Hill, 28, who was charged with second-degree murder in Marissa's death.
Although remains of a child were found Sunday on Six Nations land near Ohsweken by police investigating Marissa's disappearance, police have not yet confirmed the identity of those remains.
Roseanne Whalen, the baby's 23-year-old mother, is also charged with criminal negligence causing death, accessory after the fact to murder and indignity to human remains. Whalen is set to appear in court Tuesday.
Dipota, in handcuffs and wearing a dark blue hoodie, made eye contact with a group of family members who were sitting in the court for her bail hearing Monday. At one point, she appeared to mouth the words "I love you" to them.
During the court appearance, a woman in the group of family members gestured angrily at a reporter and said "don't do that!" while the reporter was taking notes.
That woman was identified later as the mother of Hill and Dipota by a group of women outside the court who had gathered to remember Marissa. The women said they were former friends of Hill and Whalen.
Dipota was ordered to be held in custody until her next court date, a video appearance on Oct. 24 at 10:45 a.m.
The family refused to comment after the court appearance.
Meanwhile, a relative of Whalen, who did not want to be identified, said Monday the Whalen family desperately tried to find Roseanne Whalen and Marissa over the summer.
"Everyone is saying the family did nothing, but they don't know what we tried to do," said the person, who would only identify herself as Roseanne Whalen's cousin. "They kept moving. When we found them, the next day they would be gone out of the house. They moved three times in three months.
"They don't know how hard we tried to find that baby," the cousin said.
The cousin also said Roseanne's mother is devastated by the loss. "It's hitting her hard. (Marissa) was her pride and she helped raise her until the last couple of months," she said.
Outside the St. Catharines court building on Monday, about 20 people gathered to remember Marissa, with some going inside to watch Dipota's hearing.
"We are here for the voice of Marissa," said organizer Carolyn Day of Niagara Falls, adding that she dated Hill and was friends with Whalen until Whalen began seeing Hill.
Some of the protestors outside the court on Monday wanted to draw attention to Family and Children's Services and what they claimed was a failure to protect Marissa from harm, Day said. "They did not do their job, in my opinion, to protect her," she said.
Ann Godfrey, the director of public relations for FACS Niagara, said the organization couldn't comment on what contact it had with Whalen or Hill.
"I can't say anything about specific cases, but we do get calls from the community about families from time to time and our involvement can take many forms. When we receive calls about families, we look into them and we take action if it's needed," she said. "Certainly if we receive calls, we respond to them in a timely fashion."
Amanda Mitchell, 25, of Niagara Falls, is a former friend of Whalen's who made the trip to the St. Catharines courthouse Monday.
Mitchell said she first saw Marissa on the second day after she was brought home from the hospital after her birth.
"She was just bubbly, she was a very smiley kid," Mitchell said. "She was an easygoing baby."
Mitchell called Marissa's presumed death "brutal" and unnecessary."
Day also organized a candlelight vigil that was to take place Monday night at the Leisureplex in Fort Erie.
Since Thursday, Niagara Regional Police have charged three people in connection with the death of two-year-old Marissa Whalen. Police began investigating her disappearance Oct. 8.
On Sunday, police on the Six Nations reserve discovered what they believe to be the remains of the little girl. Suspects in the case have made first court appearances.
The suspects are:
- Rainbow Ellen Hill
Fort Erie (has also lived in Niagara Falls)
- Friend/girlfriend of Roseanne Whalen, who is the mother of Marissa Whalen. sister of Amanda Dipota, who is also charged.
- Charged with second-degree murder
- In custody since Oct. 13, 2011
- Next court date is Nov. 1, 2011
- Amanda Dipota
- Sister of Rainbow E. Hill, who is accused of second-degree murder in the case
- Charged with accessory after the fact to murder, indignity to human remains
- In custody since Oct. 16
- Next court date is Oct. 24, 2011
- Roseanne Whalen
Fort Erie (has also lived in Niagara Falls)
- Mother of Marissa Whalen, friend/girlfriend to Rainbow E. Hill
- Charged with criminal negligence causing death, accessory after the fact to murder, indignity to human remains
- In custody since Oct. 14
- Next court date is Oct. 18, 2011
- Marissa Whalen
Two years old
Daughter of Roseanne Whalen
Presumed to have been killed
Source: St. Catharines Standard
CAS, which has taken many children from blameless parents, failed to heed warnings in the Whalen case. The details are in the Canada Court Watch report A child is dead: Why did the children’s aid society of Niagara (FACS) ignore the early warning signs? (pdf).
Pat Niagara A candlelight vigil was held for Marissa Whalen on October 17, 2011 at the Leisureplex in Fort Erie. It was very well attended with friends and strangers coming together to say hello to one of God's newest Angels. Many tears were shed along with moments of silence. Poems and messages were said and pink balloons released in Marissa's name. Thank you to all who attended..
A press report, with its own video, is below.
Marissa Whalen memorial
Marissa Whalen memorial
About a hundred Family and friends of Marissa Whalen held a candlelight memorial service monday at the Fort Erie Leisureplex to remember the two-year-old whose mother and two others have been charged in her death. The memorial was held at the Angel of Peace monument, which is a statue outside Fort Erie Leisureplex. The monument was installed two years ago as a place for parents who have lost a child to reflect.
Source: St. Catharines Standard
Addendum: Two years later, the facts of Marissa's death are published.
Two year old Marissa Whalen suffered a lifetime of abuse, court documents reveal
Two years after her death, we are hearing gruesome details on the short life of two year old Marissa Whalen.
A publication ban that ended Friday, is giving the public a glimpse of the horrific abuse the Fort Erie toddler suffered at the hands of a couple of women who were supposed to look out for her.
According to Sun Media, Marissa suffered repeated physical abuse, including having her face smashed into a wall before she was murdered on July 29, 2011.
Marissa was first reported missing on October 8th, 2011.
Court documents also reveal that Marissa was kicked in the stomach by her mother's romantic partner Rainbow Hill, two days before her second birthday.
After parts of the two year old's remains were found October 16th, 2011 buried on Six Nations property near Brantford, an autopsy revealed fractures to Marissa's forearms.
Medical examiners determined the injuries happened between ten days and three months before her death.
Evidence has revealed that the night Marissa was killed, the three of them hid the body from police and emergency personnel who showed up at their home, following a 9-1-1 call from Hill's stepfather Patrick McKay.
Hill told police her son was chocking on cereal.
That same night, Hill, Dipota, and Roseanne Whalen drove two and a half hours with the dead toddler in the trunk, looking for somewhere to bury Marissa.
In August, the three returned to the burial site, dug up the remains of Marissa in order to retrieve the plastic and blanket the little girl was wrapped in when buried.
According to court documents, they placed the materials in a gym bag and burned it so the evidence couldn't be used against them.
Thirty year old Rainbow Hill, has pleaded guilty to second degree murder, while her 30 year old sister Amanda Dipota from Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder.
Marissa's 25 year old mother Roseanne Whalen is expected to appear in a Welland courtroom on July 15th, facing a charge of second degree murder.
A publication ban was put in place on June 28th to protect Roseanne Whalen's right to a fair trial.
Picture of Rainbow Hill below.