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Foster/Adoptive Child Burned to Death near Barrie

July 16, 2014 permalink

Ten-year-old Tyrese Sutherland was found burned to death near Barrie Ontario on July 4. He was recently adopted by his long-term foster parents. Tyrese's adoptive brother and foster/adoptive father also died in a suspected murder/suicide. Two articles from the Toronto Star are enclosed.



Three bodies found in burned car near Barrie confirmed as Mississauga father and sons

Samuel Masih and his two young sons were found dead in a burned-out car near Barrie, autopsy results proved.

Samuel Masih, Tyrese Sutherland and Santosh
A Facebook collage shows Samuel Masih, 36, and his two sons, Tyrese Sutherland, 10 and Santosh, 4. Their bodies were found in a burnt-out car on a rural road east of Barrie early Friday morning.

For days the family of a Mississauga father and his two young sons waited for word of their whereabouts. For days they followed the news of a grisly find in a burned-out car near Barrie.

On Wednesday, police confirmed the connection they had deeply feared: The three bodies found in the wreckage are those of Samuel Masih, 36, and sons Tyrese Sutherland, 10, and Santosh, 4.

The charred remains were discovered early Friday morning on a dead-end country road a few hundred metres from a drive-in movie theatre northeast of Barrie.

The Ontario Provincial Police are not looking for suspects in the deaths.

“We’re satisfied that the person responsible for the other two deaths perished in the vehicle as well,” said Sgt. Peter Leon of the OPP.

“With respect to cause of death, that’s something the OPP normally doesn’t speak to,” Leon said. “We won’t be in a position to speak to that due to the ongoing nature of our investigation.”

Autopsies on the remains began Tuesday morning, but the release of the coroner’s findings was delayed until late Wednesday afternoon due to difficulty identifying the badly burned remains.

On Tuesday afternoon, OPP investigators were knocking on doors interviewing neighbours about the family’s history in the area and their recent behaviour, according to one resident who spoke with the police.

Several Mississauga neighbours told the Star the couple had been experiencing marital problems and were preparing for a divorce.

By Tuesday evening, family members and friends were arriving at a West Toronto home, bringing condolences and plates of food. Neither family nor friends at the home would speak with the Star about Masih or the two boys.

Police released only the name of the deceased father Wednesday. The names of the children were confirmed through neighbours and family friends.

Masih and his two sons were reported missing around 1:30 a.m. Friday. His wife, Brintha Shanmugalingam, told police she had last heard from him at 4 p.m. on Thursday, when he said he was taking the boys to a movie.

The burning vehicle was discovered on Holick Rd. around 5:40 a.m. Friday, just a few hundred metres from a drive-in move theatre. A passing motorist noticed the fire.

Police at the scene said the vehicle had been so thoroughly engulfed by the flames that they could not identify the make or model.

The family has lived on Riel Dr. in Mississauga for about five years, neighbours said. Shanmugalingam’s mother lived with them. They previously lived near the village of Trout Creek, about 50 km south of North Bay, on a property Masih still owns and has rented out for the past few years.

While living in Trout Creek, the couple adopted Tyrese, their eldest son. A man who lived next to them, Gary Toogood, said they periodically took in children in need of care. He described Masih as soft-spoken, stable and close to his family.

“I know that he was involved in social work, at least that was my understanding,” Toogood told the Star. “I know that they took care of the occasional child that was sort of neglected.”

“From what I knew of the man, he was a kind, gentle soul.”

On Shanmugalingam’s Facebook account, since taken down, there were photo collages of the family. One showed a trip to a Universal Studios theme park, with the children in facepaint and posing with Dr. Seuss mascots. Another showed a birthday party, with Tyrese cutting the cake for his younger brother.

A classmate of Tyrese at the nearby Bishop Scalabrini Catholic School said Tyrese had recently complained his parents were getting a divorce and he would have to choose which parent to live with.

Ghufran Ahmed remembered his neighbours across the street as a “very regular” family who mostly kept to themselves — not uncommon in a neighbourhood where “everyone is in their own shell,” he said.

“You’d never say that something was out of place with them,” Ahmed said.

Rev. Shahid Kamal is the pastor at the Evangelical Asian Church Toronto, a church Masih had regularly attended when he first moved to Mississauga.

“He was a good man, a nice man, and all this — had a smile on his face,” Kamal told the Star. “When he was attending the church he was very regular and even he was setting up the sound system and these different activities.”

Kamal said the church will host funeral services for the three family members once the arrangements are made.

In one of Ahmed’s last memories of Masih, the father was fixing his son’s basketball hoop after it was damaged in this winter’s ice storm. Other times, Masih would be cutting the lawn while the children rode their bikes in the driveway.

The OPP are still asking for the public’s assistance in their investigation.

“We are appealing to the public, asking them if anybody observed any activity that may be out of nature, out of place, on either July 3 or 4, to certainly give the OPP a call,” Leon said, referring to the car found on Holick Rd.

Source: Toronto Star

Boy in burned-out car had been adopted months before

Samuel Masih vigil
Candles, flowers and messages were placed at the home of Samuel Masih in Mississauga last week for a vigil in honour of his two sons, whose bodies were found with his in a burned-out car near Barrie.
Laura Armstrong / Toronto Star Order this photo

Tyrese Sutherland lived as a foster child for years before finally finding a permanent family of his own.

His adoption by foster parents Samuel Masih and Brintha Shanmugalingam was finalized just this spring, the Star has learned. On July 4, he was found dead in a burned-out car on a country road near Barrie, with the charred remains of his adoptive father and 4-year-old brother Santosh.

The Ontario Provincial Police are keeping the cause of death secret, but said they are “satisfied that the person responsible for the other two deaths perished in the vehicle as well.” The investigation is ongoing.

Sutherland had lived with the family for years as a foster child, but the private foster care agency that placed him said its visits ended in March, when his adoption was finalized by the Peel Children’s Aid Society.

His death will trigger a review process with the Chief Coroner’s Office that kicks in whenever a child dies within a year of having contact with a children’s aid society.

Cheryl Mahyr, coroner’s office spokesperson, couldn’t speak to this specific case, but said that typically, “the death investigations of children who were in care take a long time to conclude.” In such cases, the coroner’s office has three weeks to call for an internal CAS review, which can take up to 90 days. After that, the coroner can consider an inquest.

The Peel CAS, which has jurisdiction for the Mississauga home where Tyrese lived, would not discuss either Tyrese or Masih.

“We could never confirm whether a child was adopted,” spokesperson Lucie Baistrocchi said. Several friends and neighbours of the family have told the Star about the adoption.

Pat Convery, executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario, had no information about Tyrese, but said she can’t recall a case where a death happened so quickly after placement.

“Everybody, I’m sure, is looking at this,” she said. “They’re looking for anything missed. Is there something that should have been seen before this child was placed for adoption?”

Convery said that, based on what she’s seen before, if Tyrese had died while in foster care the case would be almost guaranteed to trigger an inquest. “But even if he’s been with the family (for years), you want a review,” she said. “The field would want it, the adoption field. You want to know what happened.”

Tyrese began his foster care with Masih and Shanmugalingam while they were living in Trout Creek, a village 50 kilometres south of North Bay. They had purchased a house there in 2006.

“I did meet both (Masih) and his wife when they were first thinking about starting to be foster parents,” said Bob Connor, executive director of Connor Homes, the foster agency. “We thought they would make excellent foster parents, and they were.”

Connor said his agency uses the same foster-home assessment program that each CAS in the province does, and that supervisors check in with families weekly by phone and monthly in person.

After he heard Masih and the boys had been found dead, Connor said he reviewed the meeting notes his staff took with the family until the foster care situation ended. “There was nothing remarkable in them,” he said.

The couple had even flown Tyrese to Australia in the past year at their own expense so he could see a specialist about his eczema.

Peel police have said they hadn’t been called to the house prior to the missing persons report.

In the days after Masih and the boys were reported missing, several neighbours told the Star there had been recent marital problems. A classmate said Tyrese had talked of having to choose which parent he was going to live with.

Connor said the news of the deaths hit him hard. “It’s anger, it’s hurt, frustration,” he said. “You think of all the times that people were in the home … they’re checking out to see how things are and whether plans are being followed through with. And to ensure that people are safe.

“And then out of the blue, really, something happens which is unpredictable, unthought of, unheard of. It’s indescribable.”

Source: Toronto Star