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Michael BRIERE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 13, 2003
Date of arrest: June 20, 2003
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: Holly Jones, 10
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on June 16, 2004

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Michael Briere is a Canadian rapist and murderer. Originally from Montreal, in 2003 Briere lived in downtown Toronto, where he worked as a software developer.

On May 13, 2003 he kidnapped Holly Jones, a 10-year old girl who happened to be walking outside his house. He then sexually assaulted her and killed her. After dismembering her body, he attempted to discard the remains by sinking them in Toronto Harbour; however, they were found the next day.

He was initially suspected by police for refusing to provide a DNA sample when they conducted a wide-scale request for samples from all men in the area where Jones had gone missing. He was arrested and charged with her murder on June 20, 2003.

Briere pleaded guilty to the crime, which he then described as "cruel, inhuman, and nightmarish," claiming he wished to spare his victim's family the pain of a trial. He received an automatic life sentence and will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.

In court, he attributed his actions to viewing child pornography, a claim which resulted in considerable public debate about pornography.


Suspect Arrested in Holly Jones Murder

Fantino calls for "Software Developer" Data Bank

Toronto (AP) - On Friday, June 20th Toronto Police arrested Michael Briere, a 35 year old software developer, for the horrific murder of 10 year old Holly Jones.  Commenting on the arrest, Police Chief Julian Fantino made an angry plea to government to set up a DNA bank for all software developers.  

"Because of restrictions on police powers to deal with these monsters", Fantino explained,  "most people are unaware that over 1200 software developers live within a three-kilometer radius of the Jones house."

Local resident Maria Da Silva, reacting to news of the arrest, stated "It's frightening.  You look around and you realize that any one of these people could be a software developer.  How am I supposed to protect my children?"

Bill Kort, however, a neighbour of Mr. Briere,  was not surprised to learn of his neighbour's day job:  "He was always a bit of a loner, he kept to himself.  But I always just had this feeling that he was leaving every morning at 9:00am to go develop software."

Provincial and federal politicians were quick to react to the arrest by tabling a bill entitled 'Holly's Law'.  The legislation will increase funding and police authority to monitor anyone suspected of developing software, granting police and community groups broad powers to keep tabs on these terrible people.  

As Justice Minister Martin Cauchon explained, "Just to be cautious in light of this horrible tragedy, we have also included laptop designers, electrical technicians and those guys at your office who you call when you can't make your computer work.  You just know those guys got something to hide - making you feel stupid just because you can't save your Word documents to a web-file, even though you clicked on the help button and... I'm sorry, what was I saying?"

Civil rights advocates, including Richard Goulet of the Ontario Civil Liberties Union, were outraged by the proposed crackdown on software developers and other technology professionals.  Explained Goulet, "It's only by preserving the rights of those people who commit even the most heinous crimes and also happen to develop software that we can ensure our own rights will be protected."


Briere pleads guilty to Holly Jones's murder

Globe and Mail Update

Thursday, Jun 17, 2004

The man who pleaded guilty to murdering 10-year-old Holly Jones at a Toronto court Thursday morning fulfilled his “dark secret” when he abducted, sexually assaulted, and dismembered her shortly after viewing and becoming aroused by child pornography.

Michael Briere, a software developer who lived only blocks away from Holly's home in the west end of the city, received an automatic life sentence and won't be eligible for parole for 25 years.

“A man who commits this type of crime — you put him away, you put him away for good,” Mr. Briere told Ontario Superior Court as Holly's mother, Maria Jones, sat nearby, rocking back and forth in her seat, and sobbing at times. “I have failed as a human being.”

Family lawyer Tim Danson told reporters that Holly's father had chosen not accompany her mother because “he was unsure whether or not he would be able to control himself in the courtroom, and, quite frankly, he was more than certain that when his eyes would fall upon the murderer of his daughter he would not be able to control himself.”

As an agreed statement of facts was read out to the court about how Mr. Briere grabbed Holly by the neck, sexually assaulted her on his bed, killed and dismembered the schoolgirl after downloading and viewing child pornography off of the Internet.

Holly disappeared May 12 of last year while walking home from a friend's house. Stuffed into two bags, her body was found near Lake Ontario the next day.

In his confession to police, Mr. Briere said he was surprised by how easy it was to access child pornography.

“The simplicity of getting material ... it's close to mind-boggling,” he says in the 61-page document. “I have never understood how come the whole thing wasn't shut down, just because of the nature of it. You search for the word ‘baby' and it will find stuff there ... it's easy ... you don't need a degree.”

“I don't know how it is for other people, but for myself, I would say that, yes, viewing the material does motivate you to do other things ... the more I saw it, the more I long for it in my heart.”

Inside, Mr. Briere disrobed both himself and Holly, sexually assaulted her on his bed — “I never actually completed the act” — and then strangled her, all in about an hour, before dismembering her.

“I always had the fantasy of having sexual relations with a little girl,” Mr. Briere is quoted as telling police in the statement. “So I just got carried away, and I walked outside, and Holly was . . . I didn't know her, I'd never seen her before . . . If she wouldn't have been on the street corner, I probably would have just walked the street and just gone back home.”

Panicking after he killed her, he stuffed Holly's body in his fridge. Figuring he couldn't dispose of it in full, he used a small handsaw from his toolbox to dismember her.

He then frantically disposed of her remains over three days: the night of her murder, he carried her torso in a gym bag on the subway, panicking when some blood seeped onto the floor, and then dumped it into the Toronto harbour.

The next day, he rode the subway again with a travel bag containing more body parts, dumping them in another part of Lake Ontario.

On the third day after her murder, he stuffed more remains into garbage bags and put them on the curb outside his apartment for trash pickup, staying awake all night until they were gone.

Police matched Mr. Briere's DNA to the blood found under Holly's fingernails, Mr. Culver said, adding, “as remorseful as he appeared in court today, he didn't turn himself in, this wasn't a situation where he said sorry, until ... the police nailed him with overwhelming DNA odds.

“Mr. Briere, whatever else motivated him, was spurred on by images of child pornography downloaded from the Internet.

“If this isn't a case that brings home to society, to government, to legislatures and to those involved in the prosecution and resolution of child pornography cases that this cancer on our society must be stopped and stamped out, then I can't think of one.”

Mr. Danson read a statement written by Holly's parents when Maria Jones was too distraught to read it herself.

“This cannot be the end. The truth is that Holly's spirit, her compassion, her gentleness, her sense of humour and her love of life will never die,” he said.

He called on legislators to strengthen Canada's child pornography laws.

“While some argue that child pornography is constitutionally protected free speech, Parliament must tighten up its child-pornography legislation by giving full constitutional weight to children's equality and privacy rights by adopting zero-tolerance for child pornography,” he said.

Maria Jones spoke briefly to thank the public for its support and to add, “I know Holly will make a difference,” she said.

Mr. Briere was arrested June 20th and has been in prison since, under protective custody. On Thursday, he was escorted in court under heightened security. He was wearing a suit, clean-shaven and with his black hair pulled back.

He told Ontario Superior Court Judge David Watt that he had decided to plead guilty to the crime.

“Your crime profoundly shocked this community and city and it is a community that is no longer easily shocked by crimes of violence,” Judge Watt told Mr. Briere, “A random abduction on a quiet city street, a sexual assault, a murder, dismemberment, a young active life, like others full of promise, snuffed out.

“There seems no bottom in the depravity pool nor any limits to the vulnerability of our children.”

Police visited Holly's parents in “Holly's Garden” before Thursday's court appearance to help prepare them for the evidence they would hear.


Man spurred by kiddie porn in sex slaying of 10-year-old girl

June 18, 2004

Michael Briere was a software programmer with no criminal record when he watched child pornography one drizzly evening in May 2003 - and within minutes, he'd snatched a 10-year-old girl from the street and then sexually assaulted, strangled and dismembered her in a crime he described as "cruel, inhuman and nightmarish."

Briere, 36, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the sex slaying of Holly Jones.

His plea came a year after DNA evidence from a soda-pop can he tossed into a streetside recycling bin almost a month after Holly's abduction linked him to the murder of the cheerful schoolgirl who lived just blocks from his home.



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