LaRonge, Saskatchewan: 14-year-old
Sandy Charles murdered a 7-year-old boy. He was fascinated with the
horror movie Warlock and its sequel, which he watched 10 times before
the child was killed and mutilated. Mutilations done to the child
mirrored incidents depicted in the movie. (Case in Saskatoon renews
criticisms of TV violence, Globe and Mail, June 20, 1996)
After watching the movie Warlock 10 times, 14-year-old
Sandy Charles of Saskatchewan killed an eight-year-old boy by stabbing
him with a knife and then beating him with a beer bottle and a rock.
After killing the boy, Charles cut strips of skin from his victim and
boiled them down. Warlock claimed that if you drank boiled-down
fat from a virgin, it would give you the power to fly. Charles wanted to
Killings by Teen-Agers Up Sharply in Canada
By Clyde H. Farnsworth - The New York Times
August 24, 1995
Johnathan George Thimpsen was born in this isolated
Indian community on Dec. 30, 1987, and was killed here on July 8, 1995.
Playful and outgoing, he had a winsome smile and a
couple of missing front teeth. His hero was Zorro, the masked, caped,
sword-wielding vanquisher of villains.
His body was found on July 11 in the aspen and cedar
woods a few hundred yards from his grandmother's house on Sinotte
Crescent. His throat was slashed, his head crushed.
The police arrested a 14-year-old boy and a 7-year-old
accomplice, stunning this former fur-trading outpost, now a mining
center, nearly 400 miles north of Regina.
The arrest of the children highlighted a rise in
killings committed by Canadian youths. Among other high-profile cases in
recent weeks: two 14-year-old girls were charged with stabbing a man to
death in Calgary; the police arrested five teen-agers for beating a
fisherman to death in Prince Rupert; six teen-agers were apprehended for
the death of a man on welfare living in a tent in Dawson City.
Although Canada considers the United States a hotbed
of crime, the numbers show Canada catching up, and killings by
youngsters in Canada are up sharply. During all of the 1960's, there
were 75 homicide suspects under the age of 16, according to Statistics
Canada, the Government's statistical agency. But in the three years from
1992 through 1994, after the youth crime category was changed to include
17-year-old's, there were 150 such suspects.
"Use any word you want -- shocking, scary,
frightening," said Barb Riley, a reporter for The Northerner, the local
weekly, "but it's something the people here want to address and find
answers for, and I think they're starting down that road."
One answer appears to be in easing the wretched
conditions in aboriginal communities plagued by poverty, alcoholism,
drug abuse and painful cultural uprooting.
A hearing in November will determine whether the 14-year-old,
who is charged with first-degree murder and is in custody in Saskatoon,
will be tried as an adult.
The 7-year-old, a cousin of the victim, is too young
to be charged and has been turned over to Social Services workers.
Criminal responsibility begins in Canada at age 12.
The Young Offenders Act bars identification of either
When a bail hearing was held for the accused last
month at the La Ronge courthouse, "a slight, light-skinned native youth
shuffled into the court, took his place in the prisoner's dock, looked
briefly around the room, and then buried his head on his knees for the
balance of the proceedings," wrote the news magazine Western Report,
According to those who knew him, the teen-ager,
raised by a single mother, was not considered a trouble-maker. He was
described as studious and even took part in a science fair mounted this
year by his seventh-grade class at the Churchill School, a junior high
and high school.
"Not your stereotypical, tattooed punk hanging out in
the pool hall," noted one resident, who asked not to be identified.
La Ronge is an area of 5,500 people, mostly young,
mostly Indian. Unemployment has been as high as 50 percent. Much of the
work is seasonal, like harvesting and bagging wild rice after the short
Although gold and uranium mining and diamond
prospecting are on the upswing in the region, many employers tend to
import technicians, engineers, surveyors and other specialists from the
Michelle Harding is the elected area director for the
Metis Nation of Saskatchewan, representing people of mixed white-Indian
ancestry, a large proportion of the town. She ruminated as she sipped
coffee behind her desk in an office on La Ronge Avenue, the town's main
drag along the banks of a vast lake:
"We've not only lost Johnathan, but we've lost
another child, and possibly a third, and I think sadly about what their
lives could have been like, and also I think what could force an
innocent child, or should be innocent at 14, to do something so heinous."
Because of the publication ban, it may be months
before any of this is known. Yet some indication of the torment of many
youths is reflected by calls that come into a telephone crisis line
operated by the La Ronge Native Women's Council.
Last year the center received calls about 514
children. The calls related to parents drinking, abandoned children,
safety at risk, parental battery, other battery, sexual assault, suicide
attempts by the child, suicide attempts by the parent, substance abuse,
domestic disputes, parents in crisis and runaways from foster care. Two-thirds
of the total crisis calls were about children.
"There must be some full-scale concerted effort to
heal the families of this community," said Cec Allen, who is in charge
of a project to build a local child shelter for the Native Women's
Council. "If not, we won't have any community left."
Already there are signs the community is fraying.
Five people were slain here in 1993, giving the town brief statistical
notoriety as Canada's murder capital. Sexual assaults are rife.
As in other northern communities, La Ronge is plagued
by a high rate of suicides, especially among youths, a further sign of
the economic and social depression and cultural dysfunction that are
part of life here.
The high rates of poverty, unemployment and substance
abuse, combined with low levels of education and the prevalence of
single motherhood, give many northern Indian communities characteristics
similar to inner cities of the United States, said Irvin Waller, a
University of Ottawa criminologist.
Another "disturbing parallel," he said, is access to
firearms, handguns in the American inner cities, long guns used for
hunting in the north.
Until a generation ago, said Prof. Doug Durst of the
Department of Social Work at the University of Regina, Indians were
routinely educated in residential schools where they had to abandon
their language and culture. Beatings reinforced lessons. Widespread
sexual abuse has also been documented.
"Having been abused physically and sexually, parents
from those schools are not good parents themselves," Professor Durst
said. "A whole population is caught between two worlds, troubled and
For the children who knew Johnathan Thimpsen, the
loss was painful and troubling.
"When we think about this, we're just crying all
time," said Jaya Ramayya, assistant director at the day-care cooperative
where Johnathan had been taken daily by his mother, Cindy Thimpsen. At a
ceremony last month, mental health experts from the Lac La Ronge Indian
Band urged the children to write short notes to Johnathan and slip them
into helium balloons that ascended to the heavens.
"Many wrote, 'We love you, Johnathan'," Ms. Ramayya
recalled. "It rained, and so the children noted that Johnathan's tears
Sandy Charles, 14, of Saskatoon, SK, Canada stabbed and
smothered a 7 year old boy in La Ronge SK on 1995-JUL-8.
He and an 8 year old accomplice carved 10 to 15 strips of flesh and
fat from the body. He took the body parts home, cooked them, and ate
them. Charles was suffering from bizarre delusions and becoming
schizophrenic when he watched the movie Warlock and its sequel
Warlock II at least 10 times.
One media source also quotes The Exorcist. The Warlock series
are horror movies which describe Gothic Satanist rituals and concepts,
including the belief that if a person drinks the liquefied fat of an
unbaptised child, they would gain special powers - in this case, the
power to fly.
He told the police "There's a spirit in my room that gave me
these thoughts". He had been contemplating suicide but a voice told
him that it might be just as good to kill someone else. At his trial in
1996-JUN, a psychiatrist testified that the accused "did not see the
victim as human but as an object whose death was necessary to fulfill
his deluded plan". On 1996-AUG-2, he was found not guilty by reason
of insanity. The judge concluded that Sandy Charles "was suffering
from a mental disorder so as to be exempt of criminal responsibility".
There was no organized Satanic group
involved in this murder. Charles was driven by his own delusions and
mental illness, rather than by any religious belief in Satanism. The
source of the child's particular delusions were based on the "Gothic
Satanism" hoax promoted by the movies. That hoax is in turn based on
late Middle Age and Renaissance beliefs which are unrelated to Satanism
and Witchcraft as they were practiced, then or now.
Teen may get to walk hospital grounds
Monday, November 16, 1998
A dangerous inmate may be allowed to walk the grounds
of his mental health hospital thanks to a new satellite-tracking system.
Sandy Charles was institutionalized three years ago
after being found not criminally responsible for the slaying of a seven-year-old
boy. Charles cut and cooked strips of flesh and fat from the boy's body
in a ritual he said was inspired by the horror movie Warlock.
Charles has not been allowed outside the hospital's
psychiatric ward since March. At that time he escaped from his guards
and wandered for 15 hours before being recaptured.
Friday, a review board at the hosptial said he should
be allowed to walk the hospital grounds, but only if he agrees to wear a
device that allows a satellite to monitor his location.
Police say Charles is extremely dangerous.
Mental patient sentenced for assault on nurse
Monday, June 26, 2000
A young man charged with murder a few years ago was
in more trouble recently.
Sandy Charles has been living in the Psychatric
Centre in Saskatoon since 1996, when he was found to be mentally ill,
and not responsible for the death of a La Ronge boy.
Monday, Charles found himself back in court, accused
of assaulting a prison nurse. Court was told Charles got into a fight,
and knocked the nurse unconscious.
He was sentenced to one day in jail, already served.