EDITORIALS

Deja Vu Traumatizing in Attack on Toddler

Hunter Haze Straight-Smith (left) Randy Grisdale (right)

“Hey, just want to give you the heads up, a 3 year old kid was stabbed in the neck this morning by the mother’s boyfriend, probably not going to make it.”

It was a text message from a trusted source.

I had to read it a couple of times before it sunk in.

The news took me back to a very dark place, but first, the back story…

On October 30, 2019 at approximately 2:35 a.m, emergency personnel responded to a residence in the 300 block of Pritchard Avenue regarding a report of a child that had been seriously assaulted.

On arrival, a three (3) year old child was located suffering from significant upper body injuries.

The child was transported to hospital in critical condition.

The boy was identified by the media as Hunter Haze Straight-Smith.

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service Major Crimes Unit continued the investigation and identified a suspect who was known to the family.

Later that day, police arrested the man in the area of McPhillips Street and Leila Avenue.

Investigators believe the suspect had been in the company of Hunter’s mother at an address at an undisclosed location on Main Street when she was assaulted. The suspect then attended the Pritchard Avenue location, attacked Hunter and fled from the scene.

Daniel Jensen (FB)

Police subsequently located Hunter who had suffered multiple stab wounds. He was rushed to hospital where he remains in highly critical condition.

(Latest reports indicate he is on life support and is considered to be in “grave” condition. Sources indicate he is not likely to survive his injuries.)

Police charged  the suspect who was identified as Daniel Jensen (33) of Winnipeg.

Jensen was charged with;

  • Attempt to Commit Murder
  • Assault Cause Bodily Harm
  • Fail to Comply with Recognizance x 6
  • Fail to Comply with Probation Order

He was detained in custody.

In the aftermath, we learn Jensen was charged with assaulting the boy’s mother, Clarice Smith, on July 20 of this year. He was charged with a total of four (4) criminal offences that included assault with a weapon and uttering threats.

(Jensen also has assault convictions from January 2018 and December 2017. He also has convictions for other less serious crimes.)

While its not clear how he secured his freedom, Jensen was subsequently released and issued a court order prohibiting him from having contact or communication with Smith.

(In my experience, these orders are useless, if you truly want to protect a victim of domestic violence from suffering further violence, there is only one effective option – incarceration.) 

While others were shocked by the horror of the moment, my mind immediately reverted back to November 14th, 1998.

That was approximately 7,655 days ago.

While that might seem like forever ago, it really isn’t, at least not when we’re talking about the senseless murder of a little boy.


Baby Killers – A Special Brand of Evil

The little boy in the dark recesses of my mind is a three (3) year old toddler named Randy Grisdale.

In the early morning hours of that frigid date in November, little Randy was fast asleep in his crib when his monster came to call.

Daniel Younger (22), much like Daniel Jensen, was a lowlife underachiever embroiled in the cycle of domestic violence with the mother of his ultimate victim.

It goes without saying, Younger just like Jensen, had a history with police.

At around 1:00 a.m. that morning, Younger attended Diane Grisdale’s home at 744 Home Street intent on inflicting some form of unspeakable brutality upon her.

As fate would have it, she managed to escape before Younger got his hands on her.

Randy Grisdale (File Photo)

Her escape left Younger with no an outlet to release his anger and rage. The depths he would take to quench his violent thirst are still difficult to comprehend.

Younger entered little Randy’s room, snatched him from his crib and fled from the scene. Randy was clad only in a diaper and a thin t-shirt, the temperature outside was a chilly -2 degrees celsius and dropping.

The wind chill was -7 degrees and light snow was falling.

It was a horrifically vengeful act.

After fleeing the home, Younger dumped Randy in a parked van and left him to his fate.

Randy Grisdale subsequently died from exposure.

The autopsy revealed he had a bruise of unknown origin on his head.

(I believe Younger knocked Randy unconscious to silence him before he dumped his little body in that ice cold van.)

I was working general patrol that day and arrested Younger with my rookie partner Constable Shane Cooke.

At the time of the arrest Cooke pleaded with Younger to tell us where he put Randy.

Younger was not moved by Cooke’s pleadings and sat in the back seat of the patrol unit with his head tilted back and his eyes fixed on the ceiling.

He gave us nothing…..no response, no hint of concern and no remorse whatsoever.

Randy’s body would be found later by patrol officers who did a remarkable job tracking Younger’s footprints in the fresh snow.

Sadly, it was too late, nothing could be done to save him.

At 09:35 am, I had my last interaction with Younger before turning him over to Homicide Unit investigators;

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 cunt, 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 was captured in his last words to me, the complete lack of remorse for his horrific act, his blind rage and true intentions revealed.”

The true essence of Daniel Younger was captured in those last words, the complete lack of remorse for his horrific act, his blind rage and true intentions starkly revealed.

I was happy to repeat those disgusting words to the members of his jury.

I think it helped them get there.

Daniel Younger was convicted of 1st degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for twenty five (25) years.

Randy Grisdale had everything in common with little Hunter.

  • They were both 3 years old when the monsters came for them
  • They were both victims of grotesquely violent acts of vengeance fueled by weak men who were in relationships with their mothers
  • Both boys were sleeping in their cribs at the time of their attacks, a sacred place where they should have been safe
  • Their deaths can be directly attributable to the ugly cycle of domestic violence
  • Both boys were tremendously loved and adored by the people in their lives
  • As if somehow connected by destiny, the toddlers bear a striking resemblance to each other

In my mind, the boys will be eternally linked.

The attack on Hunter was like a bad dream for me, a nightmare really.

I felt traumatized by it.

It made me think of all of the men and women who worked on Hunter’s case who lost a little something that day.

I helped me understand the depth of trauma we experienced when we worked Randy Grisdale’s case.

It made me realize that, even after 7,655 days, some wounds never really heal.


Breaking News:

Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 4:10 p.m.

News media is reporting Hunter died shortly after being taken off of life support.

Expect police to upgrade charges against Jensen forthwith.

#riphunter


Update:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The WPS issues a press release indicating Jensen’s charges have been upgraded to 2nd degree murder.

On November 6, 2019, Homicide Unit Detectives attended to the Provincial Remand Center and arrested Jensen on the upgraded charges.

Jensen was processed and subsequently returned to custody.

8 Comments

  1. The psychological impact of the violence in our community affects a lot of people- sometimes for the rest of their lives. It’s not difficult to realize that those directly affected will interact with many others from a trauma-affected perspective, and many of those people will also be affected, sometimes without even being aware of the underlying traumatic incident. That’s the truth, and what we need to come to terms with in our communities. When violence is part of the environment we live our lives in and around, it’s rare to be unaffected.

    Where we are has a lot to do with shaping who we become. Preventing violence has a huge impact. Sometimes it’s things that won’t happen that secure our best futures.

  2. George Kullman

    You nailed that one James…..that’s one night 7,655 nights ago that are etched in my brain forever……’like forever ago’ and like yesterday……

  3. Diane Grisdale

    My heart goes out the family and mother of little Hunter. I know their pain to well. I’m so sorry for your loss, this breaks my heart as the pain never goes away. It’s hard for me to hear this and see my son back in the paper. I live with this pain every day, to the family stay strong you are in my prayers.

  4. Randy’s case was the first thing I thought of when I heard about Hunter. I had Jensen in court for a domestic on the mother just a few days before this happened. She had brought little Randy to court with her that morning. Cutest little boy. Devastating.

  5. I tried to recall this young boys name. I remember this case. Very similar is a lot of ways.

  6. James G Jewell

    Menno;

    I agree, getting it right is difficult, thats why when it came to domestic violence arrests or threats it was easy for me to direct officers to detain the accused offenders in custody.

    It seems we’ve marginalized property crime so much in the justice system we should be able to put more emphasis on keeping violent offenders in jail.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts…

  7. Menno Zacharias

    Getting it right in terms of who should be incarcerated and who should be granted bail is no easy task. This is especially true in domestic assault cases. Because retraining orders are especially ineffective in domestic cases there is a need to err on the side of caution to ensure the safety of innocent victims.

  8. So sad and the same “group”, same dynamic!! There is help/resources for domestic violence victims and many people will accept even go to a shelter. But my experience has been that many Aboriginals reject the help, others not so much, those that don’t are in the majority and until their thinking and facing facts, truth even reality changes I have concerns for this type of violence changing. Very often the help is rejected because it is “White man’s doing” or because of colonization etc. It seems to be getting work in the last few years as they band together but still insist that the “government” help them. It is such a sad situation and children are paying the price.

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