Keep child killers and serious offenders behind bars

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Ceira Lynn lost her life, her healthy, vibrant, promising life, on November 12, 2015.  She and her twin brother, Colby, were in the care of the owner of a day home, Elmarie Simons.  This woman tethered Ceira in an improperly-sized car seat, put her in a dark closet and abandoned her for over 5 hours.  She quite literally left the daycare home and went shopping, receipts from Walmart and McDonalds eventually substantiating this.  Over that time Ceira, at 18 months, had no sustenance, no hydration, no changing of diapers, no supervision.  Medical evidence confirmed that Ceira, in struggling to get out of her restraints, ultimately choked to death, partially sliding through the car seat straps, which were loosely or not at all used to contain Ceira. Elmarie Simons was, after three years of investigation, charged with criminal negligence causing death, and was in May of 2018, sentenced to 3 ½ years by Provincial Court Judge Jim Ogle.

We are Ceira’s paternal grandparents, and with the rest of the family, we are horrified, disbelieving, devastated to learn last week that Ms. Simons has been released to parole through a half-way house.  The family was not invited to participate in assessing her qualification for release.  We were not even NOTIFIED that she was on the streets.  The only people who have kept the mother and father, Tanya and Ryan, apprised of most situations through the last 3 ½ years have been the media.  The police had their hands tied in what they could share, and Victims Services were soothing when contacted, but not at the high end of having pertinent knowledge to share.

We are none of us experts in the law.  Admittedly, we do not understand some terms, some processes, some time restrictions.  But we DO understand the meaning of parole, and in this case at least, Ms. Simons should have NEVER been considered for early release, and yet Simons has already received escorted temporary absences to attend church and for “community reintegration.”

Ms. Simons is a woman of such low moral character that a mere 7-8 months of incarceration could have no significant impact on her.  From the beginning, she has been sly, evasive and, with the benefit of hindsight, shows herself as a clever and relaxed liar.  From the first responders and police on what the family calls the murder scene, to the media, to the detectives and prosecutors and most assuredly to Ceira’s father, Ryan, she spent three plus years manipulating the facts.  When Simons was asked why she lied to police, Simons said she was reluctant to tell the truth "because it sounded so bad" and she "was trying to cover [her] butt."

“I don’t know, maybe she struggled and choked, it’s the saddest thing,” she told an interviewer, shortly after Ceira died. “It’s an accident, only God knows why it happened…Why would I ever hurt a child? It’s sickening and it wouldn’t benefit me at all.”  And in that same time period, she told others that Ceira was fussy and refused to nap in a playpen, so she was placed in a car seat to sleep.

In the meantime, Ceira’s parents’ lives were torn apart.  Ryan has not been able to hold a job long-term since Ceira’s death.  Tanya hardly sleeps. There was selling of their home, with yet another house now on the market. Tanya can’t control her grief, withdrawing from the family. Our grandson has huge issues acting out at daycare.  We, ourselves, have lost the loving, happy tenor of our family relationship with Ryan, pre-Ceira’s death.  We are grieving each in our own isolated way and no one can cope.  Our lives can never be the same.  Ms. Simons destroyed everything.

After all those months of Ms. Simons’ freedom and prevarication, charges were finally laid in August 2016.  More waiting, more stress, more confusion, months of so much pain and despair, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and months of postponements and cancellations, and then finally the case came to trial.  Ms. Simons chose that very last minute to plead guilty.  Judge Ogle said Simons was "deceptive" after she discovered Ceira's death and only started to show remorse when she entered a plea of guilty.

The family lost any chance of finally getting to hear details of what led up to this death, of the circumstances were around the twin, could not shake the feeling that they were somehow partly guilty because of their placement of the twins, felt powerless to control the plea bargain.  Meanwhile, Ms. Simons negotiated years off her thoroughly-deserved punishment.  How incredibly insensitive and selfish she was, dragging this out so long and then quite literally being rewarded.  The next slap in the face? This huge surprise of an early parole.

Justice Jim Ogle made these statements during sentencing in 2018:

"In my view, in the circumstances of this case, her position of trust for this child was at least equal to that of a parent. She had been entrusted by these parents to take care of Ceira."
"To then place this child in a darkened and isolated closet in an upstairs bedroom in this home and leave her there unattended for five hours was not only criminally negligent -- it was cruel and indifferent," Ogle said the fact Simons admitted doing the same thing with the child in the past put her degree of moral blameworthiness “at a very high level.”
"The court can only conclude the actions that ultimately caused the death of Ceira were considered and deliberate and without any excuse whatsoever. They were in every sense of the word cruel and callous."
Ogle said despite his inquiries, Simons never gave any explanation for her actions, which would “reduce the moral blameworthiness of these stark facts.”

The Parole Board of Canada, in 2019, told Simons

“… you continue to show little insight and that you struggle to provide any sort of rational explanation for the poor decision making and negligent actions you exercised that day.”
“you are reported to have shown remorse for your actions, but you fall short in accepting full responsibility.”

Still, the board granted the parole.

All the above observations blatantly point to the fact that this woman has spent her entire life honing a character that is reprehensible and despicable.  She has no sense of right and wrong.  The judge said he did not think Ms. Simons intention was to kill Ceira, but it leaves the question of what, then, WERE her intentions?  To demonstrate her power, her control, her vindictiveness?  What kind of person has intentions like THAT towards an 18-month-old child?  And should those intentions be applauded and rewarded?? This woman is an evil monster.

The parole board apparently suggested that she has shown good behavior in her short period of incarceration.  Of course, she would.  There is a reward for that, and with her clever deceitfulness there would be no problem in portraying a humbled person.  It is the act she performed right up until she made a plea of guilty.

The parole board suggests that being with her church and family would further her progress. Clearly, a woman who has exhibited Ms. Simons’s selfish indifference could truly have very little understanding of what the church represents or what the Bible says; she certainly doesn’t live a life embracing “Do unto others…”  Her sons threatened Ryan in the street shortly after the murder, and the repeated suspicious vandalism of their property pointed to the Simons family.  This doesn’t sound like a healthy atmosphere to encourage recognizing right over wrong, or compassion or non-entitlement. 

We have heard Ms. Simons will receive counselling while out on day parole.  It is the families’ belief that Ms. Simons could much better absorb her enlightenment, practice her homework, within the confines of a prison, rather than having the distraction of the freedom of the streets.  We are certain that Ms. Simons, in the ‘real’ world, would not display any improved behavior, any more ‘goodness’ tomorrow on the street than she did pre-incarceration.  You can not subdue a savage in so few months.

This day parole approval is a very grave mistake.  It is an incredible insult to the value of Ceira’s life and her potential.  Please, please, we beg you, revoke this parole process and allow Ms. Simons to have the time and focus in jail to acquire a full and honest comprehension of her wrong-doings.



Ceira McGrath's Grandparents

___________________________________________________________________Our daughter's brutal killer is out of jail after 7 months???? 

Help make change to the awful injustices victims suffer in Canada. And help put serious criminals in jail for appropriate amount of time. 

My name is Ryan. Our daughter Ceira was callously and inhumanely killed in a day home in November 2015 by a lying, deceitful, non-taxpaying illegal dayhome operator. (Please google Ryan McGrath Calgary to find media coverage). Her twin brother (and other children) fortunately survived the horrors that we now know occurred there. Our family has been devastated and destroyed by this, and continue to live in darkness and miss our perfectly healthy beautiful daughter so much every day still.

Now we have learned this dangerous child killer is already out on parole, and will be free in 6 months time??!!. Let me explain all the issues, and how insanely wrong this is.

Brief history.
Nov 2015 - Ceira killed at day home
Nov - July 2016 - Day home operator continues operating day home
July/Aug 2016 - Dayhome operator arrested and charged with criminal negligence causing death.
April 2018 - trial scheduled. Dayhome operator and her lawyer wait until last day, and then change plea to guilty. (which of course was likely their plan all along). Our family had prepared for weeks and are sideswiped
May 2018 - A judge sentences her to a ridiculous 3.5 years in jail
Jan/Feb 2019 - Given early day parole - with plan for release in 6 months.

Let me start by saying I firmly believe this should have been a manslaughter charge. It was planned, we have many strong reasons to believe this happened to our children and other families children multiple times before it became fatal, and on the day of Ceira's death; she left her in a faulty car seat, in a dark closet, alone upstairs for FIVE hours.

Social media posts have attacked our family, and even the Alberta government has suggested we should have used Licensed care.....Well let me talk about that...We had twins, and we had our twins on three "Licensed" daycare waiting lists in Calgary. With twins, and a good economy at that time; we did not get to top of waiting list in time. We know now of many other horrors that occur regularly. We then started speaking to friends and looking for online reviews about good day homes in the city. We landed with a women who came referred to us as "Mother Theresa", and the "best day home ever" etc. We met her, toured (most) of the house and chose her with grave outcome and circumstances obviously.

We believe the crown prosecutor in our case cut a deal at the last minute without our families (or the police ) knowledge, and hence the judge and court system all told us he was "range bound" due to precedent? Even though the sentence could have been (and bloody well should have been) a lot longer. In fact our family was told between 4-8 years. We were disgusted, and nauseated at the time. But forced to live and suffer with it, and were told she would have to serve at least a third of her sentence before parole eligibility AND that we would be made aware of any proceedings so we could attend and be sure to try and stop her release. We were never made aware.

If you look back on the case history and news related you will see this isn't just someone who "made a mistake or had a momentary of lapse of judgement". During the course of the investigation, and once the news came to light (of course all this adds to the huge guilt I carry around but..) of many other people who had complaints about her, including other parents at the time who were to afraid to report to the police and never came forward (I have electronic copies of all this). She was proven and called out by the judge to be a deceitful, lying monster who had no regard for our daughters life. All of this should have led to a lengthier sentence if not a murder charge.

Now we are beyond furious. 
-How did this woman get out of jail so early?? (Please refer to parole board decision; they even note she IS NOT showing remorse etc. - then they grant it??!!)
-How was the family affected (or no one) else made aware there was even a parole hearing?
-We want this literally overturned and reversed. We want an appeal. 
-This self admitted child killer who shows no remorse does not even have a stipulation to not look after children again upon her full release (During day parole she is not to be around children).
-All levels of government will not reply to my emails in a timely, or effective manner
-The Calgary police have no good answers
-The crown prosecutors said they weren't aware either

-Several media people have told our family that if the victims do not attend the parole hearings; then the optics don't look good, and favours the criminal. Well WE WERE NEVER TOLD.
-if anyone suggests to me, that in passing they mentioned to me a process to find out how to do all this; well we were deep in throes of the worst days of our lives. We should have been provided electronic or printed out instructions. This is ridiculous.
-We want an appeal to this. This child killer should not be released into Canadian public.
-This criminals release sends a scary message to the public about accountability for such a horrific crime — if the punishment is only a a few months in jail?? FOR KILLING A HELPLESS INNOCENT CHILD IN BRUTAL MANNER - 7 MONTHS!!

I have not been able to find and retain employment, Ceira's surviving twin brother has been diagnosed with learning disabilities related to severe trauma, and Ceira's Mom is absolutely devastated since the loss of Ceira. These are just the tip of the iceberg of the impacts this has had on our family. We are unable to have more children medically. She took away our only daughter and brother.

How can this happen in Canada? How can a grave injustice like this occur in our country???

I've contacted everyone, and no one will help or listen to us anymore. Please Help us spread this story. It's outrageous. Please help make change.

I would be glad to go into far more detail about the horrors of this story - I can't begin in online post to explain the depths of the impact this has had on our family, or the concern we have for other children in Licensed and unlicensed day home's in Calgary, and elsewhere. Massive, sweeping changes are needed to both the criminal justice system, the treatment of victims and not to mention the entire day home/daycare system in Alberta, and many other parts of Canada. In Ontario, change was made!! It can happen. Help us make Ceira's (and all children) voice heard!

We need her and people like this back behind bars. Society needs them back behind bars. Children are in danger. Children are the foundation of our society.