CALGARY — Just days after Jeremy Steinke was arrested in the killing of a Medicine Hat couple and their young son, the 23-year-old told police that he participated in the slayings because he wanted to “impress” his 12-year-old girlfriend, who was the mastermind behind the plot to murder her family.
Jurors in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary took 11 hours to convict Mr. Steinke, now 25, of three counts of first-degree murder in the April, 2006, deaths of an eight-year-old boy and his parents. The couple’s daughter, known in court as J.R., was convicted last year on the same set of charges. Neither she nor her family can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Mr. Steinke showed no reaction when the verdicts were read yesterday.
But during his initial police interviews without a lawyer present, Mr. Steinke’s emotions ranged from inconsolable to hysterical to contrite as he recounted the crimes. The videos, which were played during his preliminary hearing in Medicine Hat, were never entered as evidence at trial as the court ruled that investigators contravened Mr. Steinke’s Charter rights.
[…] The killings stunned the nation. The first police officers to enter the family’s home after the killings on April 23, 2006, found a crime scene awash in blood, the walls smeared with bloody handprints.
The girl’s mother died after being stabbed 12 times. The father fought for his life with a screwdriver, but was stabbed two dozen times, including nine times in his back. The body of the girl’s eight-year-old brother was found lying on his blood-soaked bed. His throat had been slashed.
The Crown and defence agreed on only one point during the trial: Steinke stabbed to death the girl’s parents after sneaking into their home wearing a mask and dressed completely in black.
They clashed over the circumstances of the younger brother’s death and the motivation for the attacks.
The Crown painted a picture of Steinke as a cold-hearted killer who wiped out his young girlfriend’s family as part of a murder plan crafted in advance by the couple and documented in conversations with friends and in online messages they’d exchanged. The motivation, according to the Crown, was adolescent rage at the parents, who disapproved of their 12-year-old daughter dating the then-23-year-old Steinke, an unemployed high-school dropout.
Crown prosecutor Ramona Robins presented a recording of a conversation Steinke had with an undercover officer posing as a prisoner while he was being transported to a Calgary lockup. In it, Steinke admitted he was responsible for the deaths and gave details of the killings.
“You hear about that triple homicide?” Steinke said during the recorded conversation. “Yeah. You’re looking at him … Me and my old lady have become legends.”
He told the officer the girl slit her brother’s throat. “It didn’t bother her at all, either, she didn’t cry or anything. In fact, the next day when we were on the road, f–n’ she was laughing about it. She’s got a few screws loose, too.”
Steinke described fanciful plans to marry his girlfriend in a Gothic wedding ceremony and move to a castle in Germany.
Robins told the jury that Steinke told the undercover officer the father’s dying word was, “Why?” and that Steinke replied, “Because your daughter wanted it that way.”
Steinke said that, in the hours before the killings, he was drinking a “two-four” of beer and a bottle of “Vampire” brand red wine, and consumed a gram of cocaine.
He also claimed he was fond of drinking blood and once ate a batch of sugar cookies that a friend had made with blood.
“When they came out of the oven they were pink — that’s how much blood he put in them,” he said.
The Crown showed the jury transcripts of messages exchanged by Steinke and the girl a month before the killings. The girl, writing under the online alias “runawaydevil,” told Steinke: “I hate them. So I have this plan, it begins with me killing them and ends with me living with you.”
Steinke, writing as “Souleater,” responded: “Well, I love your plan, but we need to get a little more creative with like details and stuff.”
“(The girl was) the motive and Steinke was the means” to the killings, Robins said.
The Crown went after Steinke’s claim that he could do nothing to stop the girl from killing her brother. Robins suggested that Steinke stood back and watched the boy die because he knew the boy could have identified him. In their separate trials, neither Steinke nor the girl took responsibility for the boy’s death.
After their arrest, the couple exchanged jailhouse love letters and promised to marry.
The girl is serving her youth sentence in an Edmonton psychiatric hospital.
The case made her the youngest person in Canada ever convicted of multiple homicide.
Note: We followed this case because the killers were reported to have met on a website devoted to vampirism and “gothic industrial culture.”