A man identifying as Randy Janzen posted a disturbing note to Facebook last week in which he confessed to shooting his 19-year-old daughter Emily in the head to free her from chronic, crippling migraines. The post goes on to explain how Janzen then killed his wife Laurel and his sister Shelly to spare them any suffering.
Despite justifying the killings online, Janzen was likely fully aware that his actions were wrong, said psychologist Patrick Baillie in an interview.
"This isn't somebody who has a mental disorder that has so interfered with his thinking that either he doesn't know what he's doing or he doesn't know that it's wrong," said Baillie.
"I think (Janzen) is an individual who perceived himself as being at the end of his rope and started to think about this as a solution."
Baillie has testified in numerous court cases involving defendants looking to be found not criminally responsible because of a mental illness.
The psychologist drew an immediate parallel between Janzen's case and that of Robert Latimer, a Saskatchewan farmer convicted of second-degree murder after killing his disabled 12-year-old daughter, saying he wanted to end her chronic pain.
But unlike with Latimer, Baillie said what makes this case unique is that Janzen allegedly went on to kill the rest of his family.
Emily Janzen poses with her father, Randy, before prom in 2014.
In the Facebook post, Janzen explained that his wife "should never have to hear the news her baby has died" and that his sister should not have to live alone with the shame of his actions.
"Latimer says here's why I did it, I take responsibility for it and I know that there are going to be consequences," said Baillie, whereas Janzen's case "strikes me as an individual who was making decisions for a lot of people without any evidence that those people would have wanted to participate in those actions."
Homicide investigators have not formally identified the bodies discovered at two crime scenes in B.C.'s Fraser Valley, but they revealed on Friday that the bodies all belonged to one family, including that of the suspect.
After discovering one body at a home in Aldergrove, B.C., a four-hour standoff took place with a man inside a residence just east of Chilliwack, B.C., until the home caught fire and was quickly engulfed in flames. Police have not yet explained the cause of the blaze.
Police are expected to give an update into the killings on Monday. There is no confirmation on whether the suspect's death was a suicide.
While murder-suicides are not all that uncommon — amounting to about six per cent of the approximately 500 murders in Canada per year — Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd said murder-suicides involving so-called mercy killings are rare.
Still, Boyd said he would be hesitant to classify the Janzen case as a possible mercy killing.
"The fact that a person has severe migraines is seldom a reason to take their life as an act of mercy," he said. "That seems rather farfetched."
Friends of Janzen's daughter Emily say the talented singer had aspirations to become an opera star but was held back by the debilitating migraines that plagued her since elementary school.
B.C. Coroners Service spokeswoman Barb McClintock said it is too early to know whether a public inquest will be held into the deaths.
A public inquest is a formal court proceeding with a five-person jury that looks into the facts surrounding an unnatural death. The chief coroner has the power to hold an inquest if she believes it would be of benefit to the public and would prevent similar deaths in the future.
— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver
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