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Title: Family still feels pain of children's murder 25 years ago

Source: Orangeville Citizen (Ontario, Canada), October 29th, 2009

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Family still feels pain of children's murder 25 years ago

Twenty-five years will have passed next week, but the pain of losing two children to a juvenile killer has not abated for Orangeville's Babineau family.

Next Friday, Nov. 4, will mark the 25th anniversary of the double killing that shocked Orangeville to its core, cast the town in an unwanted international spotlight, and stirred up a widespread debate about the probable adverse effects of table-top role-playing board games of violence.

On that 1984 evening, Monique Babineau, 9, and her brother Daniel, 11, died at the hands of an acquaintance, a juvenile whose identity remains protected under the Young Offenders Act, at St. Peter Separate School. Their lifeless bodies were found between two portables at the school.

Marcel Babineau, father of the two victims, said last week he doesn't feel free to discuss the tragedy in detail because of secrecy provisions in the YOA. "I have no comment for the press," he said. "We are kind of caught in the middle (and because of) the YOA there's not much we can say or do. All we can do is remember."

He did, however, deny the truth of a 1985 Toronto Star story that said his family was suing the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board for negligence. "We didn't sue anyone," he said.

The 16-year-old killer, an altar boy at St. Timothy Roman Catholic Church and an attendee at the funeral of his two victims before he was arrested a week after the slayings, was also a fanatical Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) player.

Although admittedly guilty of the killings, he was found not criminally responsible for them after psychiatrists testified that he was mentally ill at the time.

The trial was of widespread interest not only because of the tragedy and potential involvement of D&D, but also because it was the first case in Canada of murder covered under the YOA, a controversial procedural law that had come into force April 2, 1984, and has since been replaced by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Under the terms of the YOA, the maximum penalty was three years, even for murder. And, unless tried as an adult, his or her identity would remain protected for life. However, the finding of mental illness meant he was to be confined to a psychiatric facility until judged safe for release.

As a result, the teenager may have spent longer than the three years in custody under a Lieutenant Governor's warrant, although the public was never told. He has apparently not returned to Orangeville, and is variously believed to have moved with his family to the U.S. and/or to Northern Ontario.

If Orangeville Police Services was advised of the young killer's movements following his release from the institution, they aren't admitting to it.

Inspector Mike Robinson, speaking in general terms, said police would routinely monitor movements of persons paroled if they were to return to the jurisdiction. He didn't speak to notification of other police services in the event of paroled or otherwise released persons convicted of heinous crimes.

The possible role of D&D in the mental state of the Babineau killer figured prominently in the NCR ruling.

At the trial, expert witness Dr. Thomas E. Radecki spoke of 131 gruesome murders related to D&D and said, "I have personally been an expert witness in nine Dungeons & Dragons and entertainmentviolence related murder trials.

"In each case, an adolescent or young adult, who had become heavily immersed in violent fantasies from their intense diet of violent entertainment, had gone out and committed one or more gruesome murders, often with likeminded accomplices."

Although 131 cases might be statistically insignificant, given the popularity of the game in that era, one particular case among those cited by Dr. Radecki would appear to have disturbing implications from which one could generalize:

"Mike Cote, 16, of Killaloe, Ontario, committed suicide by shooting himself. He was found in a woods.

His father found D & D material open on his bed along with a D & D poem directing the player to hide in the woods and 'to forget life, forget light.' The youth was apparently acting out a D & D game scen (Toronto Star, spring 1985)."

In D & D, players act out individual roles, unlike traditional war games in which they would command military units. Historically, the traditional games have been used in the training of military officers who would gain an expertise in strategy and tactics.

If the military commanders "act out," so to speak, some of the things they have learned in the games, does it follow that the characters in role-playing games are likely to act out the fantasies they have learned in the games? The debate continues.

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