British Columbia

Murder-suicide of Prince Rupert, B.C, mother, autistic son under review

B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth is reviewing the murder-suicide of a mother and her autistic son after an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities called the incident a wakeup call for the province.

B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth investigating deaths of Angie Robinson and 16-year-old son

B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth is reviewing the murder-suicide of a mother and her autistic son after a disability advocate called the tragic incident a wake-up call for the province.

Earlier this month, the bodies of 40-year-old Angie Robinson and her 16-year-old autistic son, Robert, were found in their home in Prince Rupert on the northwest coast of B.C.

RCMP have confirmed the deaths were a murder-suicide, with Robinson taking the life of her son, but have not released anymore information about the incident.

But Faith Bodnar, executive director of Inclusion B.C., a disability rights advocacy organization, said the family was not getting the support it needed.

"These kinds of things don't happen without warning, and I want to know what was missed and who missed it," she said.

Bodnar says the tragedy points to a lack of resources for families of individuals with developmental disabilities.

"You know the fear at the back of our minds is that something terrible will happen, and, indeed, it has," she said.

Greater awareness of services needed

B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux says 11 professionals provide a variety of services for families of children with autism in Prince Rupert.

She says while the deaths are tragic, it's up to families to work with their social worker to ensure they're getting all the services "they're both entitled to and need for their child."

While there are no plans for a review of this specific case, Cadieux says the ministry is always looking at how to improve services.

"We are always looking at the services that we provide through the ministry, working with our service providers throughout the province to look at how best can we deliver services." she said.

"Are there things we can do differently to provide more service to more people? Are there new ways of delivering service? So, we're looking all of the time."

Children's resources scarce, argues representative

B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says she's found gaps in support in B.C. for kids with complex special needs.

"You know, it isn't autism, per se, it's just that at certain times, children need this careful, skilled support to be able to cope, and for their families to cope," she said.

"And what I've found, particularly in the north region, is those resources are scarce, if existent at all."

Turpel-Lafond says she will review the deaths but says she has never investigated a case with circumstances like this one.

She will decide whether or not to conduct a full investigation after the coroner's service and RCMP complete their work. 

With files from Marissa Harvey