Funeral held for slain Medicine Hat family

12-year-old daughter charged in murders held at youth facility

SUDBURY, Ont. — In the basement of a northern Ontario church, a picture frame standing on a table held a photo of a man, his wife and their son, their eyes wide and their smiles broad.

The photo was displayed prominently, surrounded by bouquets of sympathy, and those who paused to view it understood that the family portrait was missing one member.

Absent from the photo was the face of the couple’s 12-year-old daughter, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the killings of her family in their home in Medicine Hat, Alta.

Nearly 200 friends and relatives gathered at La Toussaint Church on Tuesday for a private funeral in the francophone neighbourhood the couple once called home.

Friends of the family pleaded with the media to respect their privacy, and allowed only close loved ones into the Roman Catholic church for the bilingual service. But even from outside, the sobs and gasps of the bereaved could be heard.

After the service, a woman who identified herself only as Diane handed out copies of the eulogy she had read to parishioners.

“Although a horrific, useless tragedy has brought us together . . . we are here today to say goodbye to the outer shell of our family and friends,” the English statement read.

“For, as our dear loved ones believed that the spirit lives on forever, please allow yourself to find comfort in sharing that same belief.”

The only apparent mention of the daughter was a veiled reference at the end: “To the family, take care of each other and for the ones who got lost along the way.”

On a table near the framed portrait of the three slain family members lay a collage of about 100 photos. Some of these showed the 12-year-old girl.

In one photo, she is held tight in her father’s embrace, her right hand resting on his shoulder as she turns to smile for the camera.

Other shots showed a family trip to a lake, opening Christmas presents, and the couple dancing at their wedding.

Family friend Dave Zatylny said the father will be buried in Sudbury, while the woman and boy have been cremated, with their ashes to remain in Barrie, Ont.

He said one of the most frustrating aspects of the tragedy is that so little is known about the slayings.

“Everybody’s just shaking their heads because they just don’t understand . . . what went on there,” said Zatylny of Hanmer, Ont.

“The police just won’t give out any information. . . . They don’t even know how . . . the family died.”

The 42-year-old father, his 48-year-old wife and eight-year-old son were found dead a week ago. Police have not said how the three were killed.

Their names cannot be released to protect the identity of the accused girl, who was ordered Monday to remain at a Calgary youth facility.

The girl’s friend, Jeremy Steinke, 23, also faces three counts of first-degree murder.

At a bail hearing Tuesday in Medicine Hat, Steinke was ordered to undergo a psychiatric review to see if he is fit to stand trial. He was remanded in custody until June.

About 50 teenagers, most wearing the black clothing and makeup associated with the goth culture, were in court to show support for Steinke.

Outside court, two teenage girls who know the accused said they were upset with the way he’s been portrayed in the media.

“He’s a loving, caring guy,” said a girl who identified herself only as Kaci.

And a girl who called herself Jannelle denied reports that Steinke told someone he was a 300-year-old werewolf who enjoyed the taste of blood.

“The guy saying that only knew him for a couple months. He never talked about being a werewolf.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Canadian Press, via, Canada
May 4, 2006
Cassandra Szklarski

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday May 4, 2006.
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