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.
May 21, 2013 permalink
The Toronto police have honored the team of investigators headed by John Smissen. Following the death of Katelynn Sampson at the hands of her foster parents they spent two weeks gathering evidence. Six years ago an undercover police officer tempted Katelynn's mother with a $40 drug deal. When Bernice Sampson took her opportunity, she got four months house arrest and innocent Katelynn got the death penalty. Link to earlier story. The Toronto police are not honoring the officer involved in the earlier sting.
Toronto police honour investigators for work in death of Katelynn Sampson
Toronto police honouring investigator who helped collect evidence in murder of 7-year-old Katelynn Sampson.
I think about Katelynn Sampson often.
She was 7 in 2008, when she was beaten to death by her guardians. That’s how old my daughter Lyla is now.
I thought about Sampson last week, when Lyla was accidently kicked in the face by a cartwheeling friend in the schoolyard. Her lip was cut. She howled. Her blood streaking down her chin and splashed onto her little pink shorts.
We spent 13 hours in the hospital, getting four stitches.
Katelynn’s lips were cut too. Twice. One was ripped; the other had a hole through it. Those injuries weren’t caused by accident.
Her guardians had pounded her little face so hard, her teeth had cut through her lips, the pathologist reported.
Instead of taking her to the hospital, they locked her in the bottom of a linen closet in their Parkdale apartment.
We know that because of the work of John Smissen and his team.
Smissen is an investigator with the Toronto Police Forensic Identification Services.
His team arrived at the Parkdale apartment two days after Sampson’s death.
They spent two weeks there collecting evidence.
Two weeks seems like a lot of time to spend examining a two-bedroom apartment.
There was a lot of evidence to collect. A truckload in fact.
“There was blood splattered throughout the apartment. It was on every wall inside the apartment,” Smissen says. “When we started looking for it, it was like ‘Here’s some more and here’s some more.’ ”
A reminder: Sampson was murdered by her legal guardians, Donna Irving and Warren Johnson. They didn’t stab her to death. They killed her over slow weeks, with punches and kicks and slams and smashes. The pathologist counted 70 wounds to her body, including eight broken ribs, three broken bones and a split liver.
Her blood didn’t spurt. It trickled and flecked.
Smissen’s team needed swabs and laser scanners to detect it all, gathering evidence for murder.
They went through piles of clothing, searching for blood. In the end, they loaded a truck with more than 800 pieces of evidence.
Their breakthrough was that linen closet. There were holes in the bottom of the wooden door.
“We believe she used her feet to break it outwards,” Smissen says. “There was blood splattered everywhere under the bottom shelf.”
Then they found the two-by-four, jimmied with hockey-stick pieces to lock the closet from the outside.
“There was evidence that someone was forcibly confined in there,” he says.
That evidence was enough to boost the murder charges to first-degree. Katelynn’s murder hadn’t been impulsive. It was planned and deliberate.
The evidence was enough to convince Irving and Johnson to plead guilty — to the lesser charge of second-degree. They were sentenced last year to 15 years without parole.
That saved the courts a lengthy trial, which is a good thing for the system, but not necessarily for Katelynn.
No one witnessed her lonely, piercing pain when she was alive. Thank goodness a coroner’s inquest has been called to bear witness to some of it now that she is gone.
I imagine her howls and sobs from that dark closet and it makes my eyes burn.
Smissen’s team uncovered many documents in Katelynn’s apartment, which revealed both motive and the toxic atmosphere before her murder.
“I’ am A awful girl that’s why know one wants me,” Katelynn had written 62 times on one piece of paper.
I think about those haunting words often.
My daughter is just learning how to spell. She makes books about fairies and dogs and little happy girls, all of them loved.
“No child should have to go through stuff like this,” says Smissen, himself a father.
I don’t know how he does his job. But I am grateful he does it.
He and his team were awarded an internal Toronto police award for teamwork last week. They’ll receive the Police Officer of the Month award from the Toronto Region Board of Trade this Thursday.
They deserve it.
Source: Toronto Star