Boyfriend, 23, also faces charges in deaths of her mother, father, brother
Jeremy Steinke’s mother and stepfather leave the Medicine Hat Provincial Court Tuesday.
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A 12-year-old girl accused of being one of Canada’s youngest-ever multiple murderers showed little emotion when she appeared in court for the first time Tuesday.
At the same time, the family of one of victims began making funeral plans.
The girl, the daughter of the family, cannot be named. She and Jeremy Allan Steinke, 23, had charges of first-degree murder read to them by Judge Darwin Greaves.
Both were remanded in custody until next week.
In an unexpected show of support for the accused killers, a number of the spectators who helped fill the courtroom openly wept for the arrested couple.
In Okotoks just south of Calgary, however, family and friends grieved the loss of the mother, father and their pre-teen son.
The mother’s family gathered at her sister’s home, making arrangements for a funeral Saturday afternoon in Okotoks at St. Peter’s Anglican Church. They were too distraught to comment on the murders.
“How do we respond to this?” asked the dead woman’s brother, throwing his arms in the air.
“We don’t even know how to respond. We have a lot of things we want to say, but we’re just not ready.”
Former neighbours of the family before they moved to Medicine Hat were reeling from the news of the deaths of a “picture perfect” couple.
“Honest to God, they were a Norman Rockwell family,” said Bob Grodin, who lived next door to the family for three years, breaking into tears.
“I lived vicariously through those parents and really admired their devotion to family. This shouldn’t have happened to them.”
In Medicine Hat, friends of the accused also tried to come to terms with events. It’s believed no other 12-year-old in the country has ever stood accused in a triple slaying.
The girl, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought into court with her hands shackled and wearing a blue, oversized prison-issue jumpsuit.
She stood, head bowed, her long hair shielding the sides of her face.
In a barely audible, childlike voice, she answered “yes” when the judge asked her to confirm her identity, but she otherwise said nothing during her brief appearance.
She did not acknowledge spectators.
Steinke, who appeared separately in adult court, wore his light-brown hair cut short, with a thin beard that framed his jaw.
He likewise did not look at spectators.
When asked by the judge if he understood when he was to return to court, Steinke said “Tuesday, May…” and stumbled for the date.
“You understand,” the judge said.
Steinke is to appear May 2. The girl will appear one day earlier.
Neither entered a plea.
The charges of first-degree murder indicate premeditation in the three deaths. The bodies were spotted by a friend of the son on Sunday about 1:30 p.m. in their quiet suburban home.
A man who saw the crime scene through a window and asked not to be identified said he noticed a blood stain and smear of blood on a wall leading down a flight of stairs at the split-level home.
Steinke and the girl, whom friends described as dating, were arrested about 8 a.m. Monday in Leader, Sask. The bodies of the victims were taken to Calgary for an autopsy which had been scheduled for Tuesday.
Several teens who attended court identified themselves as friends of Steinke.
One of them, Jordan Attfield, 17, described Steinke as “a very nice guy, and then one day he just snapped.”
Friends said Steinke had broken up with another girl within the past year and had been upset ever since.
In a poem posted on his personal webpage on Nexopia, Steinke apparently fantasized about killing.
Outside court, friends and relatives of Steinke angrily mugged for photographers and made obscene gestures. Other than to utter obscenities, they declined comment.
Steinke and the girl were said to be into goth culture and may have met on website vampirefreaks.com. Others say they met at local punk music gigs.
However, Steinke wasn’t the only relationship the 12-year-old girl experienced.
Last winter, she dated a 16-year-old for four weeks.
“I could have sworn she was in Grade 9,” said Devon Wenaas.
“She acted older. She was much more mature than other girls.”
Wenaas was invited to the girl’s home for coffee to meet her mother before he was allowed to date her, he said.
During his high school days, Steinke tried out for the Medicine Hat Mohawks’ football team. Spencer Schutte, who graduated two years before Steinke, remembers him as an annoying young kid who thrived on being an outsider.
Today, Medicine Hat police are expected to share more information about their investigation into the homicides.