Why my child, asks dead girl's mother
Caregiver accused of 7-year-old's murder
James Cowan, National Post, With Files From Mary Vallis Published: Tuesday, August 05, 2008
More On This Story
A mother's grief turns to rage
TORONTO - Following the first court appearance yesterday by the woman accused of killing seven-year-old Katelynn Sampson,
the girl's mother had blunt words for her daughter's alleged murderer, a former family friend who had been caring for the
child for several months.
"I want to kill her, but what can I do?" Bernice Sampson, the dead girl's mother, told reporters as she was rushed into a
car by a knot of friends.
Moments earlier, Ms. Sampson sat in the front of a small courtroom in the basement of Old City Hall as a justice of the peace
remanded Donna Irving, 29, into custody until her next court appearance on Aug. 15.
Ms. Irving has been charged with second-degree murder.
Court staff struggled to maintain decorum during the brief hearing, with the justice of the peace threatening to clear the
room if the crowd did not remain quiet.
Anger was evident as the throng left the room following the accused's appearance.
"You'll still rot in jail," one woman yelled.
Wearing a black and white print blouse, Ms. Sampson expressed bewilderment at her former friend's alleged actions.
"Why didn't she kill [her children]? Why did she kill mine?" she wondered aloud as she waited for the hearing to begin.
Others echoed that question yesterday, wondering how a situation that was supposed to provide comfort for the young girl had
resulted in her death.
One person who yesterday saw the hallway outside the second-floor apartment where the girl died described blood stains and
handprints along the walls.
Katelynn had been living with the accused, her boyfriend and their two sons for approximately eight months while Ms. Sampson
dealt with unspecified personal issues, friends told the National Post yesterday.
Police say the accused called 911 at approximately 2:30 a. m. on Sunday, claiming that Katelynn had choked on food. But when
officers arrived at 105 West Lodge Ave., near Lansdowne Avenue and Queen Street West, they noted obvious signs of trauma to
her body. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene.
Neither Warren Johnson, the accused's boyfriend, nor the couple's own children were home when the death took place, according
to Detective Sergeant Steve Ryan of the Toronto Police. Mr. Johnson is not considered a suspect.
Ms. Sampson told reporters on Sunday she had known Ms. Irving for at least a decade. Friends said yesterday that both Mr.
Johnson and Ms. Sampson had family ties to Nova Scotia, and it was likely that Mr. Johnson originally introduced the two women.
Friends describe Ms. Sampson as a proud mother who had struggled in recent years.
Photographs posted on Facebook show Ms. Sampson and friends enjoying themselves on Saturday as they celebrated Caribana. Ms.
Sampson cooked roti outside her apartment building and appeared to be in good spirits, despite the recent death of her mother,
said Hazel Jackson, a neighbourhood friend.
"When she first had Katelynn, for the first two or three years, she was a great parent," said Ms. Jackson, a member of the
Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre's board of directors. Ms. Sampson volunteered at the centre, she added. "She's been cheerful,
in a good mood. I assumed that maybe she was going to get custody of her child back."
Police are still unsure of whether the accused had legal custody of Katelynn, Det. Sgt. Ryan said.
"What I'm hearing is that the Family Court awarded Donna Irving custody of this little girl, but we won't be able to confirm
that until [Tuesday]," he said.
Investigators have also heard allegations that the young girl was abused prior to her death but have not yet confirmed those
claims, Det. Sgt. Ryan said.
People who knew the accused said they saw no indication of problems.
"I saw her in the Dollar Store on Saturday
everything was good," said a woman who identified herself as J. R. Junior
and accompanied Ms. Sampson to court yesterday. "I wouldn't think of [Ms. Irving] doing anything like this."
Police say the suspect has two other children who do not live with her and a criminal record that includes violent offences.