Internet-based auction of prison artwork by a convicted killer under review

Corrections Canada has been ordered to review the Internet-based auction of prison artwork by a convicted killer.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day asked the commissioner of the prisons agency to look into the case involving Roch Theriault, now serving a life sentence in New Brunswick for a brutal murder.

The Canadian Press reported Sunday that more than half a dozen items by Theriault, including oil paintings, pastels, handprints and poems, have turned up on the U.S.-based website

The site treats killers as celebrities, and offers collectors a chance to bid on a range of items, from toenail clippings to framed oil paintings. Critics denounce the trade as “murderabilia.”

“Minister Day is concerned with the fact that an individual would consider making profit out of a heinous crime,” spokeswoman Melisa Leclerc said in a statement Monday.

“Our government is committed to putting the rights of victims ahead of those of criminals.”

Theriault ran a bizarre religious cult near Burnt River, Ont., from 1977 to 1989, which attracted up to a dozen adults and twice as many children.

Charismatic and brutal, Theriault chopped off the hand of one concubine and disembowelled his wife.

The art being auctioned is abstract or contains inoffensive images such as flowers, and dates from October and November 2007. Minimum bids range from US$20 to US$500.

Gabrielle Lavallee, a former cult member whose hand and arm were severed by Theriault, had not seen the website but said Monday she was horrified.

“I think it’s horrible because . . . Theriault and other people like him, they make money on the victims’ back and I think it’s awful,” she said in an interview from her home in Chicoutimi, Que.

Calling the memorabilia auction “unfair, awful, unacceptable,” Lavallee, 58, said she is being victimized by “a legal system that seems to give more importance (to) criminals’ rights that victims’ rights.”

Lavallee, who last saw her abuser in 2002 when she argued against parole, called on Corrections Canada to halt the flow of Theriault’s artwork and other crime memorabilia from Dorchester Penitentiary.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Dean Beeby, The Standard Freeholder, Mar. 11, 2008,

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday March 11, 2008.
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