Calgary

Alex Radita had life story of 'suffering,' says his kindergarten teacher

For the first five days of Emil and Rodica Radita's first-degree murder trial, the seats in the gallery were empty but for a handful of reporters. Until Thursday, when the Calgary teen's kindergarten teacher sat quietly in the back row taking in the graphic evidence of his death.

Alex's parents, Rodica and Emil Radita, on trial for 1st-degree murder

Alex Radita stands beside his painting in 2004 when he was enrolled in a B.C. school. (Sandy Wong)

For the first five days of Emil and Rodica Radita's first-degree murder trial, the seats in the gallery were empty but for a handful of reporters — until Thursday.

On Day 6 of the trial, Sandy Wong — Alex Radita's kindergarten teacher — sat quietly in the back row taking in the graphic evidence of the Calgary teen's death given by the medical examiner.

Wong, who recently moved from B.C. to Cochrane, says she only learned of the circumstances of Alex's death the day before his parents' murder trial began.

"I was deeply troubled and filled with much sadness and anger," she said.

Alex, 15, weighed less than 37 pounds at the time of his death in May 2013. His mother Rodica, 53, and father Emil, 59, are on trial for murder.

Kindergarten was the only year Alex was enrolled in school. He'd been seized from his parents by B.C. social services and placed in foster care after nearly dying from untreated diabetes — the same allegations his parents now face at their first-degree murder trial.

"We live in a broken world and we're all flawed individuals. Mistakes are made," wrote Wong in a letter to the B.C. and Alberta children's ministries on Wednesday. 

"I believe that Alex was failed on so many levels by so many flawed people."

At the time she taught Alex, the Raditas were living in Surrey, B.C. Wong says Alex loved school, was inquisitive and "asked a lot of questions."

"He was impish, a chubby little guy." 

'Alex did not return to school'

Little has been known about Alex Radita. He was a child largely hidden from the outside world. 

In the five years the family lived in Alberta, Alex never saw a doctor and was kicked out of a homeschooling program for failing to complete work.

While in foster care, Wong says Alex spoke of his family and clearly missed them. But having been given his background, including several hospitalizations for untreated diabetes, she was worried about what would happen when the boy was returned.

Sandy Wong taught Alex Radita when he was five, the year he was enrolled in school after being seized from his parents by B.C. social services. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Even at age five, Alex had learned to test his own blood sugars and played a key role in managing it. Wong says she reported the results to his foster mother, Vera Boyko, every day.

Boyko, who was supposed to testify, died just over a week before the trial began.

"When a judge made the decision to return Alex to his parents, we were concerned for his well-being," wrote Wong.

"We feared that his medical needs would not be met, that the insulin he required would again be withheld. Once back with his parents, Alex did not return to our school."

'I will never forget Alex's sweet face'

After Alex was returned to his parents, they complied with a judge's order to have his diabetes monitored by a doctor for several years before they failed to turn up for an appointment.

An investigation was launched and the parents could not be located. Eventually, the family was discovered to have moved to Alberta. No communication ever took place between the two provinces' social services departments

"I hope that Alex's tragic death will bring about necessary changes regarding follow-up and monitoring in serious cases of neglect, when once apprehended children are returned to their parents," wrote Wong in her letter.

"His life story of suffering and premature death demands that greater, more open sharing of information between provinces be implemented. The most vulnerable must be protected.

"I will never forget Alex's sweet face and the privilege it was to teach, support and encourage him during his kindergarten year. He is free of his suffering now and resting in peace."

  • Read the full letter to B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development here
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