News about the murder of a two (2) year old girl in Blairmore, Alberta made my blood run cold this morning.
Baby killers are a special kind of evil.
Most people can’t fathom the kind of remorseless evil that can snuff the life out of a two (2) year old child with cold-hearted ruthless indifference.
Unfortunately, I have more insight than most.
In fact, I’ve never been able to forget the experience of spending time in an 8′ x 10′ Police interview room with that special brand of killer.
The call came in at 12:55 am on Saturday, November 14th, 1998.
I was working an emergency response patrol car with rookie partner Constable Shane “Cookie” Cooke #2009.
We were assigned to the call somewhat late in the game at 3:07 am, well over an hour after other officers had arrived at the scene. The search for the suspect proved negative up to this point and further units were required to expand the search area.
The details of the call sent to our computer were disturbing:
- a male suspect fled from 744 Home St
- took a small child from the home
- child clad only in diaper
- call is Domestic in nature.
This was a serious call, a baby snatched from the warmth of his bed dressed only in a diaper with freezing temperatures around -2 degrees Celsius and dropping, light snow and windy conditions prevailing.
We didn’t have much to go on, a suspect description and photo provided but no direction of travel or potential addresses to check. It was clear time was of the essence, a child’s’ life potentially hanging in the balance, odds of survival diminished by every minute that passed.
The suspect, estranged boyfriend, twenty-two-year old, Daniel Younger, an under achieving dirt bag who was previously “known” to the Police. The child, two year old Randy Grisdale, whose mother Diane was completely distraught and overcome by Younger’s senseless act of vengeance. The abduction of a child to inflict emotional damage to her, it was pure evil.
For almost two hours we frantically checked every location known to us, conducting grid searches, checking with associates and all nearby seedy Hotels, all for not, no sign of the suspect or the child.
At 4:50 am, all that changed, a call from dispatch advising that Younger was believed to be using a pay phone at the 7-11 store at Ellice Ave and Arlington Street.
We raced to the location, engine revving and tires squealing only to learn that Younger had fled the scene before our arrival. The hunt was on, I knew Younger couldn’t have gotten far so I dropped my rookie partner off in the area on foot.
I stayed in the cruiser car and started to cruise the back lanes hoping to flush Younger out into the open where he wouldn’t have a chance against my partner, the former football star who possessed blazing foot speed.
The plan worked to a “T”, two minutes later “Cookie” broke radio silence reporting he had the suspect in custody a short distance away at a nearby church on Arlington St.
When I arrived at the church Cooke had Younger handcuffed and under complete control, it was a great catch for a rookie cop.
We placed Younger in the back of our cruiser car and went through the legal formalities regarding his arrest and Charter rights. When I advised him of his right to call a lawyer he declined stating “No, I don’t want to call no one, it doesn’t matter no more anyways.”
Once these formalities were out-of-the-way we quickly drove Younger back to the area where a number of Police Officers had gathered to attempt an area search to locate the kidnapped child. These officers looked at Younger’s footwear so they could attempt to track his tread pattern in the freshly fallen snow.
During the six-minute drive to the Public Safety Building Constable Cooke pleaded with Younger to tell us where he had taken baby Randy. Cooke stressed that we had grave concerns that Randy might suffer serious exposure to the elements and we believed that his life was in danger.
Younger was not moved by these pleadings and sat in the back seat with his head tilted back and his eyes fixed on the ceiling. He gave Cooke nothing, no response, no hint of concern and no remorse for his evil deed.
It was during this car ride I came to the conclusion this case was going to be much more than a kidnapping matter. Younger’s body language told me much more than that, I was convinced at this point he had killed the child.
After lodging Younger in a holding room I instructed him to take a seat at the steel table. After taking his seat Younger quipped “I tell you one thing, I did go over there to do something to her, I was going to hurt her, but I never wanted to do anything to him.”
He then violently smashed his forehead on the top of the steel table, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, a total of five mind numbing thuds. When he finished he looked up at me and said, “If you want to beat me, go ahead.”
I can assure you, I would have loved to take him up on the offer but it was now even more clear to me, these were the actions of a baby killer struggling with the reality of the new heights he had reached with his uncontrolled violence.
Once Younger calmed down his handcuffs were removed and he was provided paper replacement clothing after his outer clothing was seized for forensic examinations. It was shortly after this process that Younger looked at me and said “I want to talk to him (Cooke) for a minute.”
I knew Younger could sense my contempt for him and wasn’t surprised he didn’t want to talk to me. I exited the interview room and remained out of Younger’s view just outside of the open door.
Cooke sat at the table with Younger and they spoke….
Younger “I’ll let you in on a secret but I don’t want to tell your partner.”
Cooke “Go ahead, I’ll listen to you.”
Younger “How is the baby?”
Cooke “I don’t know.”
Younger “I’ll tell you I went over there to hurt her, yes, but I never meant to hurt him.”
Cooke “Is there anything else you want to say?”
(In an odd twist at trial, these comments were excluded from evidence by the Judge who indicated he believed I had breached Youngers right to privacy, as if he had an expectation his conversation with a uniformed Police Officer could somehow be private, it was a bizarre ruling.)
At 5:20 am, I heard a transmission on the Police radio that the baby had been located but didn’t appear to be breathing.
(Police at the scene had done an excellent job tracking Younger’s foot prints in the fresh snow and found baby Randy who had been cast into an abandoned vehicle some distance away from the warmth of his mother’s home.)
At 06:00 am, I advised Younger that the baby had been found….
Younger “How is he?”
Jewell “We don’t know at this point, we’re waiting to hear.”
Younger “Will you let me know when you find out?”
Jewell “Yes I will.”
Younger “Murder or attempt murder, that’s what it’ll be.”
To me, this was a further admission of Younger’s evil act, I was convinced he fully intended to kill young Randy, why else would he utter the words, “Murder or attempt murder, that’s what it’ll be.”
These words were his acknowledgement of something much worse than just a simple child abduction and subsequent abandonment, these words were an admission to a much more evil act with much more evil intentions.
At 07:20 am, I received the tragic news, a call from the Hospital from one of my co-workers reporting baby Randy was deceased. An autopsy would later reveal Randy died from exposure.
I was also advised Randy had a bruise of unknown origin on his head.
The news didn’t surprise me, but nonetheless, it broke my heart just the same.
At 07:23 am, I formally charged Younger with the murder of Randy Grisdale and advised him of his Charter Rights. Younger made no requests but in his typical angry twisted style, uttered a veiled threat to the baby’s mother Diane.
At this point word about the horrific killing had spread throughout the Police Service. Cops from everywhere were outraged and coming into the station to try to get a look at the baby killer.
Emotions were running high and I was concerned someone might try to give Younger the beating he had previously asked for and so richly deserved.
My experience in Court told me I could not let that happen. The pending trial had to be about Younger and his evil act, not about the Police and abuse of authority. The result, constant supervision and control of Younger’s holding room door.
A guard posted to protect this vile human being who only hours ago, murdered an innocent defenceless little boy.
If that’s what it took to get Younger a life sentence then that’s what we were going to do, guard and protect his miserable ass, as distasteful as it was.
At 09:35 am, my last interaction with the baby killer came as a result of Younger’s knock on the door;
Younger “When are they (Homicide Detectives) coming to talk to me?”
Jewell “They should be here soon.”
Younger “Why can’t they fucking hurry up?”
Jewell “They’ll get here when they’re ready.”
Younger “That fucking c – – -, she put me in here, she’s fucking lucky she wasn’t the one that got it, she’s fucking lucky I didn’t do her.”
The true essence of Daniel Younger captured in his last words to me, the complete lack of remorse or acceptance for his horrific act, his blind rage and true intentions revealed!
Younger’s words told us his true intention was to murder his former lover, Randy Grisdale’s mother Diane, when he couldn’t get his hands on her, he settled for second best, how better than to hurt a mother than to kill her child.
Daniel Younger truly is evil personified.
After the dust settled on this case I heard the rumours.
Speculation circulating I failed to discharge my unspoken responsibility to beat the information regarding Randy’s whereabouts out of Younger the moment I first laid hands on him. The speculation suggested it could have made a difference and possibly saved Randy’s life.
Well, I didn’t beat him and I will have to live with that decision.
My belief at the time was beating Younger was a risk that could not guarantee the desired result. Younger was a high-strung violent offender who demonstrated a high degree of pain tolerance by smashing his own head multiple times on a steel table. Five violent thumps, not a blink of the eye and an invitation extended to inflict more violence upon his wretched soul.
I wasn’t going to beat him to satisfy my thirst for vengeance, I just didn’t work that way.
Regardless, I had no doubt baby Randy was already deceased by the time we had Younger in custody, his body language told me all I needed to know.
Ultimately, after four-hours of exposure to the frigid elements and a violent unexplained bruise on his head, I’m confident Randy had little to no chance of survival.
Even if the beating was fruitful and Younger confessed the location the child, he may still have died from exposure. The excessive use of force used on Younger could have contributed to an acquittal that might have seen him walk on his charges, a scenario I know I could never have lived with.
In the end, I took a degree of solace in providing my testimony at Younger’s trial, looking directly into his empty dark eyes as I regurgitated his vile comments for the jury.
Our eyes locked in an unbreakable stare, each of us waiting for the other to blink first. As his evil eyes pierced my soul I relented, turning instead to the jury to make eye contact with them in order place emphasis on evidence that was sure to expose Younger as the cold remorseless killer he was.
The verdict – guilty of murder in the first degree, with no possibility for parole for a minimum of twenty-five (25) years.
A result I’ve been able to live with.
Editor’s Note – Edited version previously published in the Power of Words blog. (Sept 2012)