Sunday, July 31, 2005

FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2005


I'm vacationing in Montreal, so light blogging until next week.

A few notes:

- Meeting with Pierre Boisvenu and AFPAD for dinner on Monday.

- Steve Sullivan of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crimewill join me in presenting at NOVA on Canadian Victim Initiatives.

good, good.


TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2005

Shanna Poissant: 

"Did an anonymous comment on a blog help break a murder case? "

This from Is That Legal.

Also, I'll share with you what I shared with Eric:

"Last Thursday, July 21st I blogged the Gazette story about the disappearance of Shanna Poissant. Overnight someone left the anonymous comment. On either Friday afternoon or sometime Saturday morning I forwarded the comment to investigators I know with the Surete du Quebec and asked them to pass the tip along to the Hemmingford investigators (I did not save a copy of that email, but I copied two journalists I know on it; one from the Montreal Gazette and one from the Sherbrooke Record)

In that email I suggested that police were probably already on-to Kurt Lauder (you NEVER want the SQ to believe they didn't think of something first), but that this information might corroborate what they were already investigating.

Was the anonymous tip what led to the arrest? Maybe. Doubtful? We'll never know. Even if it was, the Quebec police would NEVER admit it.

I think it's enough to say that the anonymous tip was "bang-on", and was given a full five days before the arrest."



I'm dumbfounded. ..

Today Quebec police announced the arrest of Kurt Lauder in the death of Shanna Poissant, after her body was found in a shallow grave north of Hemmingford.

Dumbfounded because late last week the following comment was left on this blog:

"I was at a party near Hemmingford and was told that she was given extasy pills by Kurt Lauder and she overdosed. He then panicked and buried her body....Anonymus"

And, yes, I forwarded the tip to the Surete du Quebec


To the Organizers of the Montreal Film Festival:

Allow me to express my extreme disappointment in your decision to premiere the movie Karla at this years Montreal World Film Festival.Your festival has been an honored event in Montreal for over twenty-six years. Though in recent years you have been forced to compete with other municipal events for market share, this new attempt to attracted attention to your festival is an unfortunate act of desperation on your part.

My quarrel is not with the film itself, but rather your complete lack of judgment in deciding to promote it. Your thoughtlessness not only dishonors the memory of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristin French, but is a disgrace to all victims and secondary victims of homicide, of whom I am one.

I strongly urge all government sponsors of the Festival, including the Government of Canada, Heritage Canada, Telefilm, the National Film Board, the Government of Quebec, Tourisme Quebec, the Quebec Minister of Culture, the City of Montreal, and all private sponsors, including Air Canada, Visa Canada, AGF, Hyatt Montreal, Loto Quebec, Famous Players Canada, La Presse, Tele-Quebec to consider retracting their support until such time as you decide to pull this film from your festival line-up.

I hope you will reconsider your decision, and I thank you for taking the time to read this letter.


John Allore

Frère de Theresa Allore, assassinée au Quebec en 1978
Member, Association des Familles de Personnes Assassinées ou Disparues du Québec (l'AFPAD),
Board member, Canadian Association for Victim Assistance (CAVA)


MONDAY, JULY 25, 2005

Save this one as a template:

Last Friday, Erin Runnion delivered the following victim impact statement at the sentencing of Alejandro Avila who murdered Erin's five-year-old daughter, Samantha:

(they don't get much more powerful and eloquent than this)

Your Honor, please bear with me. I have a lot to say, but I think it will only take about five minutes. I hope it is okay if I do this. I have to thank you Judge Froeberg for the way you managed and set the tone in this courtroom. This system seems so contrary to human nature and you made it as humane and tolerable as possible. You were fair and careful and I was less burdened because I was confident that you would uphold the integrity of the process. 

I want to thank the jurors for your time and attention, but really for treating this case with so much respect. You too were careful and diligent and you did the right thing. This was not about me and my family vs. this man, it was our community, the “people” vs. him… because when someone hurts and kills an innocent child, it is a crime against all of us. And I am sorry that you had to be a part of this, but I feel like you went through this part with me and I’m glad it was you who were here. 

For mitigating to the greatest extent possible the impact of this horrible crime, I want to thank everyone at the DA’s office: David Brent, Camille Hill, Jim Mulgrew and all of your awesome staff, Minerva Hidrogo, our victims' advocate. You were so wonderful to my family. Combined with my friends from the Orange County and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, you all made an incredible team. You did a fantastic job. 

It seemed that everyone who was involved from the day Samantha was taken did their difficult jobs with such care and thoroughness that the sincerity of their intentions was obvious. Thank you for caring. You treated Samantha and this case with the respect and diligence she deserved and it is by your intent and wonderful work that justice was done for her. 

Ms. Gragg and Mr. Zelweski, I feel badly that you had to defend this man. It just seems so wrong that we put people in a position to pretend someone is innocent when no one wants this man on the streets. 

I don’t imagine he has given any thought to what you all went through, personally. I know you were fulfilling the duty set out in the Constitution that is truly the absolute backbone of our democracy; that is a judicial process that ensures that innocent people are not falsely imprisoned or murdered to satisfy a popular demand. That very thing is happening in so many countries around the world today that in spite of how mad you made me, watching the process made me appreciate its intent. I was very frustrated by the posturing and convolution of facts, and you must know that a few of the tactics you employed crossed the line from defense to distortion. I understand that our adversarial system perpetuates that dilemma and I’m not qualified to suggest any alternatives. I just wish that we could find a way to infuse the system with more common sense and decency. 

I also want to acknowledge all of the strangers who watched this story and let it touch them because it really helped me to know that so many people saw this for the truly heinous crime that it was; for acknowledging how important my daughter’s life was. Every child deserves that kind of love and advocacy. 

I have written and re-written what I would say today to you. 

Part of me doesn’t want to speak to you or acknowledge you in any way, but I’ve decided that I have to address you because I hope to never see you again. I never want to hear your name or see your face. You don’t deserve a place in my family’s history. And so I want you to live. I want you to disappear into the abyss of a lifetime in prison where no one will remember you, no one will pray for you, no one will care when you die. Since Samantha’s death I have felt more hate and rage than I ever thought possible, but I love that little girl so much that it would be a horrible insult to her to let my hate for you take more space in my heart and head than my love for her. 

I am supposed to speak to the impact of this crime on my life. There is no describing the impact and I am not sure you’re intelligent enough to ever comprehend it anyway. I wrote this statement on the third anniversary of the night you took my baby and hurt her and scared her and crushed her until her heart stopped. She fought. I know she fought. I know she looked at you with those amazing, sparkling brown eyes and you still wanted to kill her. I don’t understand it. I never will. 

It’s like you never learned to think. You have absolutely no concept of how heinous, how egregious your crimes were. I can’t help but wonder how it is you survived as long as you did being so stupid. 

You killed a child with a loving and passionate heart. Samantha was outrageously bright and funny. She wasn’t demanding, she didn’t ask for everything under the sun, just to play and have fun as much as humanly possible. Why would you want to take that away? I have researched and really thought about pedophiles and your psychology and blah blah blah… you’re a human being, you’ve know pain and fear… Did you pretend that she wasn’t real? 

Samantha Runnion

I want an apology. Someday I want you to feel the impact of what you did to Samantha. I want you to realize how much you stole. I have to take family photos and my little girl isn’t there; she will always be missing. Every happy moment of my live has a moment of gut-wrenching agony because she’s not there. And I have to stop and acknowledge how much it hurts to live without her. 

Samantha made me feel like I had a purpose on this planet. She was so incredible that I felt sure that if I just did what I could to give her every opportunity to become the best person she could be and I didn’t mess her up in the meantime, she would have done something truly wonderful for this world. She wanted to be a dancer, a teacher and a mother. She was a wonderful storyteller and she wrote all the time. Who knows what she would have become? 

But you just don’t care. You have no idea of what it is to love someone… you have no concept of what life is about and yet you were so arrogant as to think you has a right to take it. 

For me and my family – our lives were shattered. For the past three years we’ve been trying to paste it back together, but there’s this huge void and the lack of her laughter, of art on the walls of her dancing and singing and running and jumping and swinging and smiling… the lack of Samantha is actually a part of our life now. The pain is impossible to describe, the guilt I feel for bringing that sweet baby into the world only to be tortured and terrified… I am so sorry I let her down. 

And you should be sorry you took her away. You should be so sorry. Not sorry you got caught; not sorry that your wasted life will be taken (as if it’s worth could ever compare) but sorry that you took a life – the life of a very special little girl. 

While everything in me wants to hurt you in every possible way, when I’m very honest with myself, what I want more than anything is I want you to feel remorse. Everyone feels alone in our pain and confusion. There is so much misery built into being a human being that I can’t fathom what would make you want to add to it.
In choosing to destroy Samantha’s life you chose this… You chose to waste your life to satisfy a sick desire. You know it was wrong, but you chose not to think about it. Now you have a lot of time to think about it. Don’t waste it. Write it down so that the rest of us might learn how to stop you people. 

You are a disgrace to the human race. 

Erin now has a foundation in honor of Samantha called Joyful Child.Check it out at:

Thanks to my friend Patricia Pearson for pointing this story out to me


Deepest regrets?

Can you imagine the blood pressure of the British people lately? If terrorists don't get you, your own police force will. And the Londonpolice commissioner expresses "deepest regrets"?

Regrets are for the cocktail party I'm unable to attended, anything beyond that I would fall on my sword.

This morning the BBC reported that the family of Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes have been urged not to speak out (don't mention litigation!), for fears of causing an international incident.

Police shot an innocent man five times in the head, doesn't that justify moral outrage of global proportions?


The complete presenter and workshop schedule for the North American Victim Assistance Conference next month in Atlanta is now available on the NOVA website:


SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2005

White Hot

If you want to know what rattles the cages of any victim of crime, look no further then attempts to identify offenders as victims. It's bad enough that victims already feel they get the short end of the stick in funding, with the lion's share of cash going to offender support groups (witness the recent disclosure that Canadian murderess, Karla Homolka's federal prison tab amounted to $2 million over a 12 year stay); but to have your position of vulnerability suddenly co-opted by the other side is a galling to a power of infinity.

So how are we to respond to the recent article in The Independent Weekly (under the perplexing sub-heading "The Religious Left"),House helps death row families in which the mother of convicted murderer, Elmer Ray McNeill Jr., decries, "It's like having your child kidnapped and his life threatened and there's not anything you can do about it, because nobody's going to help you, I hear about mothers dying while their sons are in jail."


Well maybe Elmer Ray should have thought of that before he forced John Ray and Mike Truelove to the back of a Food Lion and shot them execution style for $2,300 in cash. I think the pain and loss that the Truelove and Ray families suffer could literally drive one to despair and death.

I take no mark at Roberta McNeill. She grieves, she suffers. But if journalists would spend half as much ink on the plight of victims (theirneverending suffering; first through the initial tragedy, then at the hands of a cynical justice system that makes them a spectator, giving them no place to participate) as they do on the death row moratorium discussion (they've virtually celebritized the debate), then I might be open to conversation about restoration and resolution between victim and offender.


Been There Done That

Thoughts on the Shanna Poissant disappearance

A young girl goes missing in the Eastern Townships. Police respond and begin searching for clues. Initial fears of a runaway are soon dismissed. Police soon lean to the possibility that they are looking for a corps. The girl's family is frantic. They appeal to the public. They don't want a body, they want their daughter back. Rumors begin to flow: The girl may have been at a drug party, she may have overdosed - "friends" dumped her body in a nearby forest. The family becomes more frantic, more frustrated - police are being uncooperative.

This is not my story, but my story retold in chilling parallel twenty-six years later in the community of Hemmingford, Quebec. The victim is Shanna Poissant who has not been seen since July 11th when she left her home to visit some friends. But more disturbing than any comparisons to the murder of my sister is the heavy reality that these types of incidents happen all the time, and seem to unfold with the same predictability, more often than not ending with the same heart-breaking conclusion.

If you think I'm going to use this opportunity to advance my personal agenda on justice and law enforcement, you're dead wrong. The fact is I don't feel I have anything original to contribute to the discussion. After all this time you'd think I'd have some wisdom to offer, but I don't. The disappearance of Shanna Poissant leaves me feeling empty, hurt and helpless to offer any constructive contribution other than to express my sincere empathy for her family; I hope this pain will subside soon (though I know it won't).

Some of us in the victims community in Quebec (you know who they are) have been discussing this event, and how we might best help the family. But many of us - even though we too have been touched by similar tragedy - are at a loss to come up with answers. The family at this point is obviously overwhelmed - it would be intrusive to enter at this point - but do we leave Tammy Geraw alone in her pain?

Shanna Poissant

I saw Ms. Geraw on television making her desperate appeal, "I just want my daughter back; I want her to be found alive... Shanna, if you're out there, please call me and let me know where you are." It made me think how much the world has changed. Twenty-years-ago my parents wouldn't have dared to show such raw emotion to the public. It just wasn't done (although they certainly felt the same way). And though I am impressed with all the media attention this case is attracting (an iota of this would have helped Theresa immensely), I somehow feel that we are spectators to an event that should be off-limits (some things should not be seen).

Which brings us to the police ( my old friends, the Surete du Quebec) and some reports that they are not communicating with the family. From the victim's point of view, yes, you are hungry for information, you want any thread that my draw this thing to a close. However it would be irresponsible for police to disclose every tip they receive - more than half of it is junk; it can drive a person paranoid and insane. And (again) though the "runaway" hypothesis always seems like a copout (pardon the pun), let us not forget the saga of Julie Bureau who disappeared for three years from Sherbrooke, then turned up very much alive shopping for groceries in a Townships market. The Bureau effect, unfortunately, may now lead investigators to be overly cautious in missing persons cases (just when we need them to be proactive and expedient).

I wish for a quick resolution to this affair. I hope Shanna Poissant is found soon. When she is found, I hope the community of Hemmingford will be kind and comforting to the family.



This week's Government Computer News has a number of good articles including:

- an editorial on why it's good business for municipalities to offer free public Wi-Fi.

- an analysis of the next wave of enterprise computer storage (serial storage).

- a nice article comparing PDAs (your BlackBerry may be obsolete).

But the real gem here is GCN's update on the procurement process for the FBI's new case file management system.

Recall that the FBI was forced to scrap their original virtual case file system (VCF) after going in the hole for $104 million (those funds will never be recovered). Last week the FBI sent out a preliminary RFP for the "new" system (dubbed Sentinel), and final bids are expected in late August. Sentinel sounds a lot like VCF, despite FBI CIO, Zalmai Azmi's claim that, "Sentinel is a lot different from VCF".

FBI CIO Zalmai Azmi

At the heart, what we are talking about here is an electronic system of FBI case management to replace the current, arcane process of having paper case files. In your own work environment, can you imagine the frustration if you had to transfer information to co-workers through fax machines rather than PDFs and email?

That's the current state of communications at the FBI.

In a world where crime has become increasingly transient and globalized is it too much to ask that our federal law enforcement have the technology to communicate across boundaries and borders? (and we're not even talking about recent developments, people have been on the move for a good thirty years, the technology to match this speed has been available for a good ten years to the public, longer if you include the military).

What amazes me is that Government Computer News seems to be the only publication that has taken an interest in the seriousness of this issue. For the past year, as the FBI has continued to stubble, GNC has been there consistently reporting the story.



Plus Ca Change...

Police comb fields for teenager
Dogs called out. Hemmingford girl vanished July 11 on way to see friends

The Gazette
July 21, 2005

Shanna Poissant disappeared July 11. Police suspect she's dead.

Police in this village near the U.S. border searched along a gravel bike path yesterday for a missing 16-year-old girl who disappeared more than a week ago.

On the evening of July 11, Shanna Poissant left her Hemmingford home on foot and told her parents she was on her way to see some friends.

She has not been seen since.

Poissant's parents reported her missing the following day, and the local detachment of the Surete du Quebec began an investigation.

Investigators have met with her parents, friends and "anyone who knew her," said Surete spokesperson Corporal Francois Dore.

"They didn't find her. But there are elements of our investigation that I can't reveal here that lead us to think that she is not a runaway.

"This is something else."

Poissant's disappearance is on the minds and mouths of Hemmingford residents, and her photo is posted in the windows of village stores.

"She's a stand up girl. ... She's really nice," said Stephen Smith, a teenager who lives near Poissant's home.
Her parents told The Gazette they had been advised by the SQ not to comment on the investigation.

Police refused to say what led them to begin searching the bike path under a blazing hot sun around noon yesterday.

"We would like to find her alive, but unfortunately we can't rule out a homicide as a possibility," Dore said.
According to information provided to police, he said, "we can find her somewhere along the path."

The SQ's major-crimes division joined the investigation late last week. The Montreal-based unit investigates homicides and other crimes that involve violence.

The bike path, which slices through farms and wooded areas, used to be a railway track. Officers rode on all-terrain vehicles along the woods on either side of the path.

About 20 officers were helped in their search by a police dog and helicopter.

Poissant is about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 115 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information can contact the Surete du Quebec at (800) 659-4264. Information can be provided on a confidential basis.



I pod picks...

Stalled in the seventies... ya... ain't it great.


What's In My Ipod

I'm Not In Love 6:06 10cc The Very Best of 10cc Rock 
The Things We Do for Love 3:32 10cc The Very Best of 10cc Rock 

Pick Up the Pieces 4:02 Average White Band AWB R&B/Soul 

Gone 5:08 The Black Crowes amorica. Rock 
3A Conspiracy 4:47 The Black Crowes amorica. Rock 
Midnight from the Inside Out 4:20 The Black Crowes Lions Rock 13 7/9/2005 12:20 PM
Lickin' 3:42 The Black Crowes Lions Rock 15 7/9/2005 12:24 
Blackberry 3:27 The Black Crowes Three Snakes and One Charm Rock 2 7/9/2005 1:51

Ride Captain Ride 3:53 Blues Image Brothers In Blues & Sisters In Soul Pop 

Politik 5:18 Coldplay A Rush Of Blood To The Head Alternative & Punk
The Scientist 5:09 Coldplay A Rush Of Blood To The Head Alternative & Punk 
Clocks 5:07 Coldplay A Rush Of Blood To The Head Alternative & Punk
Warning Sign 5:31 Coldplay A Rush Of Blood To The Head Alternative & Punk 

Beautiful Sunday 2:50 Daniel Boone K-tel's I Love Pop Music Pop 

Novocaine For The Soul 3:08 Eels Beautiful Freak Alternative & Punk 

Magic Man 5:28 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock Crazy On You 4:53
Dreamboat Annie Rock Soul of the Sea 6:33 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock 
White Lightning and Wine 3:53 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock 
(Love Me Like Music) I'll Be Your Song 3:20 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock 
Sing Child 4:55 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock How Deep It Goes 3:49 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock 
Dreamboat Annie (Reprise) 3:50 Heart Dreamboat Annie Rock 

30 Days in the Hole 4:06 Humble Pie Winning Combinations: Humble Pie & Nazareth Rock 

Mr. Big Stuff 2:47 Jean Knight Mr. Big Stuff R&B/Soul 

Mr. Brightside 3:42 The Killers Hot Fuss Alternative & Punk 36 6/16/2005 7:34 PM
Smile Like You Mean It 3:54 The Killers Hot Fuss Alternative & Punk 32 6/16/2005 7:38

Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) 3:02 Looking Glass Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century Pop 

Jackie Blue 4:11 The Ozark Mountain Daredevils Time Warp: The Very Best of Ozark Mountain Daredevils Rock 

Where Evil Grows 2:51 The Poppy Family A Good Thing Lost 1968-1973 Pop 

Tell Me Something Good 4:38 Rufus & Chaka Khan Rags to Rufus R&B/Soul 

Moon Light Feels Right 3:40 Starbuck Rock Masters: Starbuck Rock 

Something in the Air 3:55 Thunderclap Newman Easy Rider Soundtrack

Beautiful Day 4:08 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of 4:32 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
Elevation 3:47 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
Walk On 4:56 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
Kite 4:26 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
In A Little While 3:39 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
Wild Honey 3:46 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
When I Look At The World 4:17 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock 
New York 5:30 U2 All That You Can't Leave Behind Rock


FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2005

This just in from Sudbury, Ontario...

And I thought the squirrels were bad.



I've been away in Asheville, NC for the past few days on my way to Wrightsville Beach.

Light Summer blogging for the next few weeks.



SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2005


E stopped in at the Seattle station to perform a set, including Prince'sI Could Never Take The Place of Your Man (from my favorite Prince album, Sign of the Times).

(You knew in that heart of despair lurked a romantic)

Check it out.



God bless the forgiving French

"Quebecers have a different mentality when it comes to crime. They're always more favourable to integration rather than incarceration." 

This gem from Quebec Sociologist Jean-Marie Tremblay in the wake of the Karla Homolka release.

Yes, let us welcome with loving arms the eminent release of Jean-Paul Gerbet.

Let us forgive (again) the actions of Marcel Blanchette, and his transgressions against Isabelle Bolduc.

I for one can't wait for Richard Bouillon to be sprung; I'm sure he'll have a lot to contribute to society.

And Hugo Bernier - 25-years comes quick, I'm sure the Boisvenus will be in a forgiving mood.


TUESDAY, JULY 05, 2005

Power Point

I'm working on my presentation for NOVA...

Anybody got something they want me to say?


MONDAY, JULY 04, 2005

Le Tour de Carrboro

In honor of our nation's birthday, I ran a little 4 mile roadrace this morning.

Le Tour de Carrboro is a pleasant little jaunt around the Carrboro streets.

I ran it in 34 minutes, 47 seconds. I let you know my placing just as soon as results are posted on the Cardinal Track Club website (I'm in the 41 to 45 year-old race class - that's one step from geazer-ville.)


FRIDAY, JULY 01, 2005

Happy Canada Day

July 1st, 2005

The Honorable A. Anne McLellan
306 Justice Building

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6, Canada

Dear Minister McLellan:

I am in receipt of your letter dated May 3rd in answer to my request for information regarding evidence retention in Canada and I am deeply disappointed by your response.

To recap, you will recall that I made my initial inquiry to Justice Minister Cotler on July 1st, 2004. In May 2005 – a full 10 months after this initial inquiry, you write to inform me that the matter of evidence retention falls to the jurisdiction of the RCMP.

Minister McLellan, I put this question of evidence retention to the RCMP two years prior to my letter to Minister Cotler, but the RCMP refused to answer me. So three years later I have come full circle; without any indication that my question will be handled with expedience and an informed response. Further, in my initial inquiry to Minister Cotler, I specifically requested that the question of provincial jurisdiction over policies of evidence retention not be kicked-back to the provinces, yet here you are telling me, “given that law enforcement and the administration of justice are responsibilities that fall under the purview of provincial attorney generals, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on procedures of other police services”.

Minister McLellan, I ask you, what have the staff of your office and the office of Minister Cotler been doing for the last 10 months? What little information you provided could have been given without a moments thought.

Be that as it may, I have some additional questions for you regarding this matter. Please provide me with the name and contact information of the individual at the RCMP to whom you turned over my inquiry. As well, please inform me by what authority, by what process and procedure the matter of evidence retention is the concern of the RCMP and why the Minister of Public Security’s office is not aware of procedures regarding seized articles.

I thank you for your time and attention,


John Allore

PS: Please note I have sent this letter July 1st, 2005; a full year since my initial inquiry to Mr. Cotler, and still I have no answers to what should be a simple matter to conclude.

Cc: The Honorable Irwin Cotler, Paul Zed


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