Choose from one of the following Victim Impact Statements that were read at
the parole hearing of Andy's killer in July 2005 (listed in the order in which
they were read):
Rodney Moffitt (Jr.)
There isn't enough time in the world that will allow my family to heal from the wounds Andy's
killer has inflicted on us.
But I stand here in front of a parole board asking you for more time.
In the conclusion to the Victim's Impact Statement I submitted to the court for consideration
upon the sentencing of Andy's killer, I wrote: "when Andy's life was stolen from him, his killer
took more than one life with the thrust of his blade. For every single death taken in this manner
there are an incalculable number of victims. All of our lives were stolen that December night."
It doesn't seem that long ago that I had written those words; not a lot of time has passed since I
first wrote those words. Indeed, not enough time has passed since the last time my family sat in
the same room as the man who killed my cousin and waited for the Canadian legal system to
dole out its version of "justice".
And here we are again.
Nothing has changed for my family and I since then.
In the 20 months since Andy's killer was sentenced, my family has celebrated 2 marriages, 3
births, and numerous graduations. Andy's absence has been felt at all of these occasions.
I still grieve for Andy's loss, and for the fear and pain we will never know he suffered that night,
because he is not here to tell us. I still grieve for the palpable absence that is felt at our family
gatherings because of his death.
I still grieve for his friends who witnessed his suffering and were unable to save him despite their
I still grieve for my grandparents. They have struggled and fought and survived such ordeals
throughout their long lives. They both survived the Second World War - my Nanny living in
England through the blackouts and air raids, through the loss of friends and family; my Grampy
fighting in the war and witnessing such unimaginable horrors that they haunt him still. They
survived all of that with their faith in God, in humanity and in society still intact. Andy's killer
took most of that faith away when he took Andy's life. Andy's death has aged my grandparents,
and their grief has weakened their frail constitutions. I honestly do not think that it is mere
coincidence that the summer following Andy's death, my Nanny suffered a heart attack; or the
winter following Andy's death, my Grampy was diagnosed with cancer.
I still grieve for my cousins who believe it should have been them we lost that awful December
night. I still grieve for their guilt and their anger.
I still grieve for my own siblings and my cousins, for my aunts and uncles, for my own parents,
for my whole family who, like me, have had their sense of security shattered by this terrible
crime. We are all a little less rational, a little less trusting, and a little more cynical because of
the fear and knowledge that Andy's killer has inflicted upon us. We all feel much more
vulnerable. We are all aware of the fragility of life, and how easily and senselessly it can be
taken from us. We all live in fear. We fear that a stranger will harm our children if we are not
there to protect them; we fear that when we say good-bye to a loved one, they might not return.
If Andy's killer is released so soon after his sentencing, it will only augment our fear and amplify
our distrust of society and the Canadian legal system.
I think it is far too easy for the Canadian legal system to disregard the rights of the victim,
especially in cases where a life has been taken and the victim cannot speak. A corpse, after all,
cannot speak to you today and let you know what the continuing impact this crime has had on
him since the sentencing. The continuing impact on the ultimate victim is simple: Andy is dead.
He will never age, he will never graduate from university, he will never get married, have
children and grandchildren. An entire lifetime was stolen from him. Nothing can change that, or
make it better. He died 6 years ago this month, 3 days before Christmas, on a cold December
night, calling out for help on the floor of a favourite gathering place while his friends tried
desperately to save him, and his killer ran away.
In my opinion, Andy's killer kept running. In the 4 years following Andy's death, the killer
maintained a lie about his true purpose in being at that bar that night, and he refused to admit his
guilt until, finally, certain witnesses changed their stories, and the truth was revealed. He
maintained these lies for 4 years. He lied to police officers and detectives, to lawyers and judges,
and to us: the remaining victims of his crime.
In the 4 years following Andy's death, Andy's killer traveled around Brockville in relative
freedom with his mother as a chaperone, while my aunt, uncle and Andy's younger brother lived
imprisoned within their home, afraid of frequenting public places for fear of seeing their son's
If he is released, my aunt & uncle will return to their prison.
In the 4 years following Andy's death, the killer was caught throwing human and animal waste
onto his neighbour's car and doorstep. This occurred not once, but more than 20 times before he
was taken into custody for breaching his bail conditions and had a mere 30 days added onto his
If he is released, I sincerely doubt that his neighbours will feel secure in their homes.
I realize that when the sentencing of Andy's killer was decided, and when a parole board reviews
an inmate's application for parole, various factors are taken under consideration. I also realize
that one of these factors was that the "manslaughter" of my cousin was the killer's first offense.
That's quite a first offense - what will he do as a second if given the chance?
It seems logical to me that if the killer was involved in, and has admitted to his involvement in, a
substantial drug enterprise prior to Andy's death, and his involvement with drugs is what brought
him to Coyotes restaurant and bar that terrible December night, with a knife in his possession
that was purchased that night with intent, Andy's death was not the killer's first offense. Indeed,
we are completely ignorant of the crimes Andy's killer may have been involved in previous to
Andy's death, but we do know that:
he was a drug dealer;
We also know that he lied for 4 years following Andy's death about his true purpose for being at
the bar that night; and we know that in those 4 years, he tormented his neighbours by throwing
human & animal feces on their doorstep.
he bought a razor sharp folding knife that night;
he carried that knife on his person into a public place;
he unfolded the knife at some point during the night;
he thrust it into my cousin's chest;
he ran out the door;
and he "lost" the knife before turning himself in.
Is this the type of man who can be rehabilitated in a mere 20 months following his sentencing?
I don't think so.
In the years since Andy's death, it has become far too obvious to my family that the legal system
favours the rights of the perpetrator over that of the victims. The "justice" system failed on the
day of sentencing when Andy's killer received 5 years in jail for taking a life - for taking all our
However, when Andy's killer was sentenced to a paltry 5 years in prison, my family was granted
a brief reprieve from the torment of the knowledge that the man who stabbed my cousin was
living in the same city, walking the same streets their youngest son walked, and shopping at the
same mall where my aunt worked.
Justice Kealey sentenced my family on that day too - he told us and I paraphrase, that it is over,
and that we should move on with our lives.
My family has been nursing a gaping wound for the past 6 years. It is a wound that has not been
permitted to heal. It has been a raw and weeping wound that has been kept open throughout the
4 years following my cousin's death, throughout the preliminary hearing, the various delays of
"justice". We sought justice, and with justice, a sense of relief and closure. But we never found
it. Instead, just when we thought we might be able to breathe, to maybe start to heal, here we are
- in a penitentiary laying out our souls and opening up our wounds before strangers and my
How are we expected to heal when the Canadian legal system keeps picking at our scab?
There isn't enough time in the world that can heal these wounds.
But I am asking you to please, give us some more time.
Thank-you for allowing me to come here today and speak on the matter of the
murder of Andrew Moffitt, and the effect such a senseless act of violence almost
6 years ago has had on my life, and those around me.
Let me begin by saying that is was an unpleasant surprise to be informed that
this day had arrived so soon after finally achieving some degree of closure in
March 2003 when Mr. Danninger was sentenced. At the time, the sentence was
unprecedented in its leniency, with credit given for time spent on bail conditions
that were violated repeatedly by Mr. Danninger until he was caught. It seems
hard to believe that a Justice of the court could make such an egregious error of
judgement when he pronounced such a short length of time a murderer should
spend in jail.
For this next statement, I wish to apologize to the family and their supporters,
but I feel it important that I describe events as I saw them, to give you an
accurate picture of the overwhelming effect this event had on me.
I was with Andrew Moffitt the night he was killed. I was the first person to
speak with 911 operators when he was stabbed. I was the first by his side to
administer CPR and comfort him until paramedics arrived. I placed my hand
over his chest with a t-shirt in a futile attempt to stop the torrent of blood and I
felt his heart stop and restart as myself and others tried to keep him alive. I
cradled Andrew on the floor of the restaurant and tried to speak words of
encouragement and hope all the while seeing the pain, agony, and fear in his
eyes as he tried to understand what was happening.
Later that night I was in a room in the police station, alone and covered in the
blood of my best friend, trying to rationalize the hell that I was living in. I had
suddenly and violently lost a best friend, my roommate for over 2 years, and I
had no idea why.
It wasn't until after Mr. Danninger pled guilty that I had the full picture of what
lead up to that night, but I will speak to that in a moment. In the meantime, I
had to relive the event many times in as many hours providing my statement to
the police, and early in the morning of Christmas Eve 1998 I had to call my
parents from the Ottawa Police Station asking them to come get me, because I
had just witnessed the death of my best friend, and I wanted to go home.
I then had to return to the apartment that Andy and I shared, a place rife with
memories that I knew would never grow, and would always be tainted. Over
the next few days and weeks, I relived the experience again in again, in my sleep
and while awake, to friends and to myself, still trying to make sense of
everything. I do not remember Christmas that year, and my entire family went
through the motions in a sort of shocked reverie. I can only imagine what the
Moffitts were going through during the same time, making funeral arrangements
for their son rather than celebrating the holiday season.
Even though Mr. Danninger was arrested by Ottawa police the very night of the
stabbing, the Moffitt family, myself, and others involved spent the next four
years reliving the event through video recreations, preliminary hearings,
questioning, and media inquiries. And then there was the day-to-day pain of
memories that came back, triggered by an event, an offhand remark, even a smell
that all of a sudden sent me back in time to that night.
When I graduated from Engineering at the University of Ottawa, it was with the
mixed feelings of knowing that Andy was supposed to graduate with me. When
I got married, I did so with the thought that he was not here to share in the
moment, nor would I ever be able to see him start a family, and have our
children play and grow together. I do not think I will ever be rid of the
flashbacks and nightmares of that night, but I have got on with my life and career
with a resigned acceptance that all happy events will come with a sense of
remorse, and a vow to never forget how precious life is. On the other hand, to so
easily and callously commit murder, Mr. Danninger obviously does not hold the
importance of a human life in the same regard, and should therefore not be
awarded the privilege of freedom.
While Andy and I were looking ahead to our last year of University, and
preparing to take on the world with our chosen career paths, Mr. Danninger
decided to forego his own opportunity to better himself at university to peddle
and do drugs instead. He chose a path that rejected the laws of society, one of
drugs, violence, and crime. He chose to throw away the chance to be a
productive member of society in the interests of making quick cash preying on
the weak and substance-dependant. He chose to use illegal drugs himself. He
chose to arm himself with a knife on the very day of the murder, "just in case".
And when the opportunity came for him to leave Coyote's restaurant on
December 23, 1998, he chose instead to pull his knife and end the life of an
unarmed bystander trying to do the right thing.
Mr. Danninger had a chance to plead guilty to his crimes, and save the Moffitt
family the pain and anguish of a trial, but instead he chose to drag out the
inevitable, until faced with the damning evidence he always knew showed his
The Justice system, on behalf of society, gave Mr. Danninger a chance to prove
himself worthy of being in society by releasing him on bail, during which time he
was free to walk around, go to movies, see friends and family... a chance he took
away from Andrew Moffitt forever. What did he do with this chance? He blew
it by repeatedly violating conditions of his bail, including defecating on a
neighbour's property, only to be placed back in jail, showing society he is neither
ready nor willing to function as a law-abiding citizen.
Mr. Danninger made his choices, and so he must accept the consequences of his
decisions. You now have a choice as well. In my mind, it is imperative that you
show a society that currently lacks faith in our legal system that crimes against
individuals and society as a whole must not go unpunished, and will not be
rewarded with early parole. Mr. Danninger's actions against his fellow men over
the past 6 years are a clear indication that he does not respect the laws of society,
and does therefore not deserve the privileges and freedoms granted to those that
do. By violating the inherent rights of others, and committing the most heinous
act of taking another's life, he should be made to forfeit his own rights in the
interests of protecting society.
Thank-you for listening today, and I appeal to your sense of justice and fairness
to consider victims' rights when deciding the fate of Mr. Danningers's
application for parole. The Moffitt family, and society as a whole, deserve to see
justice for the inhumane actions of this man, and early release of a murderer is
neither appropriate nor just.
Rodney Moffitt (Jr.)
Henry Danninger took my brother's life with no provocation, no reason other than
to bring pain and suffering to another human being.
He is the only cause that has prevented my brother from being with his friends
and family today. He is the only cause that has made my family suffer greatly for
nearly six years now. One person, just one evil little man has caused all of this.
My brother, Andy Moffitt was a bright and caring computer engineering student
with hopes and dreams of starting a career and raising a family. He was already
a contributing member of society with a part-time job at a high tech company.
Andy had every reason to look forward to the future.
In stark contrast, Andy's killer was a dropout, heavily into drug dealing and stolen
property. He was not only wasting away his life, yet also the lives of countless
others with the deadly narcotics he peddled.
Andy's killer was intending on causing harm that fateful night when he murdered
my brother. We learned from the preliminary hearing that Andy's killer went to a
mall to purchase a knife which he later brought to Coyote's in anticipation of
using it on someone.
On that night, Andy's killer attacked a former roommate with a beer bottle on the
head, with no provocation. He then attacked a complete stranger, kicking him
between the legs, with no provocation. He then stabbed a complete stranger, my
brother, with a knife, again with no provocation.
The person who Andy's killer first attacked that night was meeting him at
Coyotes, a public place, because he feared Andy's killer. Not only had he
been assaulted by Andy's killer in the past, yet he was threatened with bodily
harm countless times before.
Even after Andy's killer stabbed my brother, he threatened to kill the other
patrons, including an RCMP officer, who chased after him as he fled the crime
Andy's killer did all of this for nothing, his life was not in danger. He attacked
those people and swung his knife for no reason, no one was trying to harm him
that night. He used his knife to kill someone, my brother for no reason at all.
My brother's death was the cumulation of wicked aggression that was not the
result of a passing whim, it was the result of an evil monster bent on inflicting
All along Andy's killer showed himself to be intent on hurting others. Even while
preparing for his murder trial, Andy's killer was charged by police with
harassment of a neighbor for throwing feces on a car. This resulted in Andy's
killer losing his house arrest privileges and being locked up while preparing for
Andy's killer was not just interested in assaulting people with knives. Police found
a stolen shotgun at his apartment. If he had not used a knife that night he killed
my brother, there is no telling how many people he could have harmed with a
As you can see, Andy's killer is only able to express himself with violence. If not
only to ensure he is punished appropriately, you must deny him parole to protect
our society from this murderer, for as long as possible.
My family has received countless letters and emails from not only average
concerned citizens, yet also members of provincial and federal parliament,
senators, mayors and chiefs of police, expressing their outrage at the light
sentence given to Andy's killer. All of these people are not only shocked at how
little jail time was given in this case, yet also the fact that Andy's killer could
possibly spend less than two years behind bars for this heinous crime.
It is hardly believable, less than two years for taking someone's life? Is that how
the Canadian justice system equates one man's life, with a few years behind
bars? You must keep Andy's killer where he belongs, for as long as possible.
Think of the safety of our society. Think of the guilt that will be on your
conscience should he be released and then repeat his actions from that night
again. Think of what he did to my brother and the result on Andy's friends and
In closing, I want you to remember some important facts.
I want you to remember that my brother was already a contributing, successful
member of society. At only 23 he had a professional job and was only a year
away from graduating as a computer engineer.
I want you to remember that my brother was recently awarded posthumously by
the Governor General of Canada, with the Medal of Bravery for his heroic actions
on the night he was killed.
I want you to remember that the University of Ottawa has honored the memory of
my brother with a memorial scholarship, the largest privately funded the school
has even seen. Each year, thousands of dollars are awarded to engineering
students who demonstrate Andy's qualities of caring and consideration for
I want you to remember that Andy's killer has used violence on many occasions,
and will continue to express his violent nature on others, using knives and
possibly even guns.
I want you to remember that Andy's killer fled the scene threatening the lives of
the people who chased after him. He then attempted to disappear and not take
responsibility for his actions. It was only because he was identified that he later
turned himself in, otherwise he would never have faced justice.
I want you to remember that Andy's killer was uncooperative during the
investigation and court proceedings. Because of his silence the murder weapon
was never found. He then made those who witnessed the crime and my family
suffer for nearly four years through a lengthy and detailed preliminary hearing.
Only after newly discovered evidence did he finally realize his guilt would be
shown at trial and plead guilty to manslaughter.
I want you to remember that Andy's killer showed not even one sign of remorse.
He never once asked for forgiveness or expressed any sympathy for his actions
to my family.
I want you to remember how Andy's killer has destroyed my family, causing us to
suffer for the rest of our lives.
And most importantly, I want you to remember my brother Andy, who lost his life
because of this person's actions.
I am appalled with the Canadian justice system for giving such a light sentence
to Andy's killer. My brother was murdered, killed by another man in cold blood,
and yet a judge gave Andy's killer a light sentence of only five years.
Please do not compound this grave error by granting parole to this murderer.
Think about how Andy lost his life and how this has affected Andy's friends and
family. Think of the potential further affect if he were to hurt others as he has hurt
my family. Think about Andy!
I met Andy for the first time in the summer of 1990, two months after his older
brother Rod and I started dating. I had just turned 18, and Andy was 15. We
were both very shy and so our initial interactions were very polite and brief. It
would take more than a year before we actually had lengthy conversations. By
that time, I was a regular in the Moffitts' home and had become more relaxed
around the family. In many ways, Andy and I shared the same temperament, and
so it was easy for us to get along.
In 1992, Rod's family moved to Brockville. Despite seeing less of Andy, we
seemed to get to know each other a lot better with distance.
One particularly happy time of year for us all was Christmas. Rod and I would go
to his parents' house on Christmas eve. We would all do last minute shopping at
the mall and then have dinner together. We would stay up late, watching movies,
having snacks and talking. Two movies in particular always seemed to be
watched; Home Alone and It's a Wonderful Life. I can still remember lying on
their basement couch at 11:30 at night Christmas eve 1998, with It's a Wonderful
Life playing on the TV, as our lives were anything but wonderful, and feeling like I
was in a very bad dream. That Andy couldn't be dead, that what was happening
When Andy moved to Ottawa to attend University, we became particularly close.
I worked at Loblaws on weekends, and he would come in every week. I would
show him what was on special, and he would take my advice. He confided in me
about school, his girlfriends, and his life in general. I felt like I was his sister. He
was never once rude to me or unkind. Rather, he was always sweet, always
In the fall of 1998, I was preparing to write the Medical College Admissions Test.
My family is involved in law enforcement, and I always found it interesting, but
my true calling was medicine. As a way to combine my two interests, I thought
about specializing in Forensic Pathology. I wanted to give a voice to victims of
violent crime who could no longer speak for themselves. Several of my family
members and friends could not understand why I would want to be a pathologist.
Yet Andy did. I remember he came to our house one night that fall, and he and
Rod worked on upgrading their computers. Andy told me he thought it was a very
important job, and that I would be good at it. Just a few months later, Andy was
murdered. When the time came for me to choose a medical specialty, I could not
select Pathology. After doing a rotation in Forensics, I was faced with vivid
images and memories of Andy's death, and I knew psychologically I would not be
able to cope in that profession.
I last spoke with Andy the day before he was murdered. Even though we had
talked on the phone many times, and he had a very distinct voice, after I said
Hello, he would always say, "Hey. It's Andy". For months afterward, I kept
hearing that over and over in my head.
On the day he died, I had dinner with a friend who was visiting from B.C. I arrived
home around 9:30. While Rod was upstairs on the computer, I sat on the living
room floor, wrapping up the last presents. It was miserable outside. I was glad to
be home. At midnight, Rod came downstairs and we watched our favourite
television show. As it ended, and we were falling asleep on the couch, we had no
idea that was the last moment of peace we were to have. We were both
exhausted and I guess we did not hear the phone ring at first. The ringing
became persistent and in a moment I was awake, with adrenaline rushing
through me. It was the middle of the night. I cannot accurately describe to you
the intensity of pure emotion and grief you experience in hearing that a family
member is dead, murdered, upon waking from sleep. Your mind is in complete
shock, your heart beats uncontrollably, and the room spins around you. No other
experience in our lives had prepared us for that moment. The experience is so
intensely painful, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. The numbness that set
in soon after would consume me for months, and I suppose it is what helped me
through the chaos that became our lives.
I lost a brother and a friend that night. I did not have a chance to say goodbye. I
lost a valuable family member forever.
I believe in justice and I believe in the goodness of humanity. Yet I can never
reconcile the injustice inflicted upon Andy by this person for his own selfish
agenda. People do make mistakes, for whatever reasons. But they have to be
held accountable for their actions. You cannot be partly responsible, or
inconsequentially responsible for murder. You are either guilty or innocent. This
person is guilty of taking Andy's life. His sentence and punishment should reflect
the magnitude of his crime. There is no worse crime than murder; of deciding
that you are so important that you are entitled to take another human's life. It is
As a physician specializing in surgery, I use a blade to help preserve life, not
take it away. I cannot begin to understand how someone could even conceive of
hurting another person with a weapon, much less fatally wounding them, and I
cannot pretend to.
I do not know how Andy's killer feels about what he has done. I do not know if he
truly comprehends the magnitude of his actions, or if he really cares. Yet I do
know how we feel. Andy is not just a murder victim; a statistic in the 1998 crime
reports. He is a son, a brother, a friend, and so much more. For those of us who
love him, nothing has been the same since his life was prematurely stolen from
him and us. Andy had never done anything wrong in his life. Yet his sentence for
protecting his friends, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, is
permanent. His sentence could not and never will be shortened for good
behaviour and time spent. His is eternal, as is ours.
Even if he were to spend his life in jail, his killer's sentence would never be
comparable to Andy's. Not only did he ruin happy family times like Christmas by
stealing a valuable family member from us, he had the gall to commit such a
violent, cruel act at Christmas time, thus ensuring that the season would always
be doubly painful for us. So much for peace and good will toward men.
Regardless of what he did or didn't do prior to the early morning of December
23rd, 1998, on that cold December night, he committed murder and that is what
counts. His sentence should be a reflection of that action and not based on what
he did beforehand or since.
I simply ask of you that he spend the maximum amount of time possible
contemplating his actions and the hurt he's caused. The time served to date is
simply not enough.
Thank you for your time.
The following is my opening remarks to my victim impact statement
on behalf of my husband, younger son Michael, and myself.
Before I start, I would like to bring everyone back to March 27, 2003
at the sentencing report from the Honorable Justice Mr. R. J. Kealey.
He stated and I quote, "the public must understand and be aware that
the courts in Ontario and particularly in the Ottawa area will NOT
tolerate the unlawful taking of life especially when it is the result of a
stabbing with a knife carried as a weapon for use in a violent manner.
For too many adolescents, teens and young men the weapon of choice
is that of a knife and many carry them on their person. These are
lethal and they result in the loss of life and serious injury on a weekly
if not a daily basis in our city. So it needs to be made known that
leniency will NOT be afforded to those who choose to so arm
These are strong powerful words spoken by Judge Kealey, "the courts
will NOT tolerate the unlawful taking of life, leniency will NOT be
afforded to those who choose to so arm themselves."
Today, you find yourselves, less than 20 months following a modest
sentence of 5 years in prison for the taking of a life, assessing the
possibility of a release of an admitted drug dealer, who purchased a
folding knife with a razor sharp 3 1/2 inch blade for the sole purpose
to make use of it, which he did. A man who was initially charged with
2nd degree murder only to have the Crown plea-bargain a guilty plea
for the lesser charge of manslaughter.
We will no doubt hear from the killer and his representatives that he
has been a model prisoner and is deserving of release. However, I
submit that a period of less than 20 months for a drug dealer who
operated a substantial drug enterprise who pleaded guilty to
manslaughter after having taken the life of an outstanding young man
with a promising future is insufficient to conclude that he has been
rehabilitated to the point that he is deserving to be returned to
The Honorable Mr. Justice Kealey said all the right things in his
sentencing summary. Where he failed however was to hand down a
sentence that would serve as a clear message that respect for the law
and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society is
fundamental. Five years for taking a human life does not do this.
The opportunity to do the right thing lies with each of you who sits on
the Parole Board. In your deliberations, we urge you to consider the
fact that 20 months incarceration for the taking of a life is inadequate.
To release the offender at this early stage of what was a modest
sentence to begin with would truly be a miscarriage of justice and will
add to the loss of public confidence in the criminal justice system. To
illustrate, I respectfully request that each of you try to imagine
yourselves in a similar situation. To have lost a loved one through
such a hideous, violent crime is difficult enough, to accept such a
criminal walking the streets after having only served 20 months of a
light 5 year sentence is simply unimaginable. To release this man at
this time is wholly disproportionate to the harm done.
I would like to address the Board with respect to the continuing
negative impact and harm this crime is having on our family both from
an emotional and financial perspective.
My husband had a great job which ended suddenly after Andy was
killed. It was a job that he looked forward to everyday - in fact he
devoted 29 years. He had no plans on retirement, he was planning on
working until the age of 65. He wanted to be able to see our youngest
have the same opportunities that we were able to give our two oldest
(Roddy & Andy). It did not work out that way. His employer thought it
would be best to offer him an early retirement package. It was a good
offer but it was the worse thing to do to a person who desperately
needed a purpose to get up in the morning. His company knew that he
could not give them the 100% that he always gave. They knew the
long road that was ahead of us concerning the judicial proceedings.
They knew that things were just going to get worse for us. They knew
Rod could not deal with his loss - so the best thing they thought would
be to encourage him to take retirement. They were right in a way
because when a parent looses the greatest gift from God - you lose the
reason to go on. Today, he works part-time in a grocery store but still
misses being "Mr. Christie" and also all the perks such as a company
car, car/dental insurance, company trips and all his many friends he
made over the 29 years.
As for myself, my life was and still is a home-maker. I always worked
part-time to be able to buy the extras that we could give the children.
Life was great. We always thanked God for what we had especially for
giving us three wonderful sons. They were our reason for living.....
Henry Danninger changed our lives forever. It is very difficult to
express in words how we are feeling. If you are parents, I know you
would feel the same way. Society faces heartbreaks everyday. People
die all the time but NOT the way Andy died. He didn't just die, he was
murdered - stabbed in the heart and this is what is incomprehensible
for all of us to understand. He died at the hands of a drug dealer who
had no value for human life. He died a violent painful death. He died
in a country where our last Prime Minister said in his Canada Day
speech up on Parliament Hill that "the young people of Canada are so
lucky to be living in a country where there is peace. A country where
all their dreams can come true. He also said that everyone must have
compassion and care about their fellow man". As I listened I realized
that Prime Minister Chretien could have been talking about Andy.
Andy was a compassionate, caring young man who had so many
dreams but because of an evil person who had no value for human life,
Andy's dreams will never come true.
Picture this: The door bell rings at 4 a.m. We all jump out of bed.
Michael is the first one running to the front door yelling "it's Andy" in
fact, my husband and I also thought it was Andy - he was home for
Christmas. It wasn't Andy standing there, instead it was a policeman
who was assigned to deliver the most dreadful news that every parent
fears - Andy was dead! He had been stabbed in the heart. He said he
was told that Andy was trying to break up a fight - he was only trying
to keep the peace. That moment Michael lost his innocence. He was
only 11 years old and his world was shattered into tiny little pieces.
My husband and I were standing next to Michael. We couldn't believe
what we were hearing. I argued with the police that it had to be a car
accident because that is how society loses their young but not this
way - not by the thrust of a knife. Michael just stood there frozen - he
was in shock. He didn't even cry. Thank God the police called our
parish priest and asked him to come over. I didn't know what to say to
Michael and I knew in my heart that the priest would be able to
explain "God's will" better to him than I or my husband could have.
Henry Danninger changed our lives forever. Time does not heal. The
pain is the same. The heartache never goes away. You just learn to
live with it. It is like a cancer eating our hearts out. It will get us in
the end. There is no cure. The only reason we are still on this planet is
because our other two sons still need us - especially our youngest
Michael. I am afraid for him. How many children does society know
that have experienced this trauma when they were 11 years old?
When Michael went back to school he had a lot of support from his
teachers and peers. His peers would all assure him that Andy's killer
would be punished severely. These children were all brought up to
believe in punishment and accountability. As time went by some of
these children would see the killer out and none of them including
Michael could understand why he was not in jail. These 11 year old
children are now 17 year old young adults and the system has let
them all down. They have all witnessed that a life is worth very little
in our justice system. They have all witnessed that a person can kill a
human being and be sentenced with a mere few years.
When Henry Danninger broke his bail conditions we all finally saw
some justice when we read in the newspaper that the police had
picked him up for breeching his bail conditions. He was caught on 24
different occasions harassing his neighbours. He was captured on a
video camera throwing human and animal feces on his neighbour's
car and door steps in the middle of the night when he was supposed to
be in his home. He was later sentenced to an additional 30 days. This
incidence is another proof that Henry Danninger cannot be trusted to
keep the peace. Even his neighbours were quoted in the newspaper
stating that they were afraid to leave their children alone in their own
backyards for fear of him.
Releasing Andy's killer so soon would be a sure threat to all our
mental health. I don't know what everyone's reaction will be if they
encounter the killer out of jail. I can only speak for myself when I
happened to walk into his path at the mall where I work.
It was a week till Christmas and I was trying to bring myself to do
some Christmas shopping. It was just too difficult, everything I looked
at, I wondered if Andy would like it. Every young man I saw shopping
I pictured them to be Andy. I ended up at the grocery store in the
produce section. I ended up buying Andy a little Christmas tree for his
grave. As I walked out of the grocery store into the mall, I was face to
face with the killer. To me, it was like facing the devil. I was not ready
for this encounter. I think I was in shock. I just turned my body
toward the doors and ran to the safety of my car. I don't know how I
drove home, my eyes were filled with tears. I did make it home that
evening and was so thankful that I did not bring Michael with me to
do his Christmas shopping. Life is very cruel sometimes. To be dead
would be easier but we cannot take the easy way out for the sake of
Roddy and Michael. My husband and I wonder so much what we did
so wrong to be punished this way, and if there is something we did,
why wasn't it us and not our precious son who gave up his life when
he got up to help that terrible night?
Another incident, my husband and I were downtown coming back
from our dentist. Waiting for a green light I glanced at the corner. I
had to look twice and then asked my husband if he saw what I was
seeing - Andy's killer standing on the corner. I remember telling my
husband that it was like a bad nightmare.
As Michael's mother I am pleading with all of you who sit on the
Parole Board to put the wellbeing of Michael foremost. I don't know
what his reaction will be if Andy's killer is released so soon. In fact, I
don't know how any of us will be able to function. It would be
devastating. We are not ready for this. We need time. Time is all we
have now. We are so tired, especially tired of fighting the justice
system. I am begging you to consider the well being of a young boy
and also his older brother. They have their whole life a head of them.
Michael gave up last year at school. He just couldn't focus, and just
did not care about anything, certainly not his future. He definitely
does NOT need to think of the killer being out of jail.
Michael still has not been able to visit Andy's grave. He has returned
only once and that was a very proud day for him. That day was the
day Andy received his Medal of Bravery. It was hung with pride on his
Please do not release Henry Danninger. Please give Michael a chance
to lead a healthy, productive life. Let him see that the world is not a
cruel and cold-hearted place. He has his whole life ahead of him and
with all our help he will turn out to be a good productive citizen. I
know Andy would want everyone to make sure his little brother turns
out to be a good, kind and happy person.