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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 22, 2011
Date of arrest: Same day (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1958
Victim profile: Her adopted daughter Sophie Fitzpatrick, 7
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Chelsea, Quebec, Canada
Status: Committed suicide by hanging herself in the jail shower on January 11, 2012

Tragedy eludes explanation

Thursday, January 12, 2012

After at least one other failed suicide attempt, Kathrine Dufresne — the Chelsea woman who killed her seven-year-old daughter Sophie Fitzpatrick — has ended her own life.

Dufresne, 53, died in hospital Wednesday night after being found hanging in the jail shower.

Last fall, Dufresne and her adopted daughter Sophie were found injured inside the family home — a discovery made by Dufresne’s husband and Sophie’s father Murray Fitzpatrick, who had just returned from a business trip.

Sophie was pronounced dead in Hull hospital.

The girl had been strangled and Dufresne had tried to kill herself, police said at the time.

A suicide note was discovered at the house.

After a psychiatric assessment, the court ruled Dufresne was fit to stand trial.

That was on Monday.

Three days later, she was dead.

“Something like this is extremely rare,” said her lawyer Wayne Lora, who learned of his client’s death from the media.

So why would a woman, who’d spent months trying to adopt a child, end up killing her? A daughter by all accounts she was head-over-heels in love with.

Lora said he’s never dealt with anything like this before.

His explanation: “She didn’t know herself.”

As for any mental health condition, any medication she might be taking, Lora isn’t saying.

But he has admitted in the past to having the same questions as everyone else.

“This is a very pathetic case,” he said at an earlier court appearance. “A seven-year-old child?”

He’s dealt with infanticide, usually a result of a mother’s postpartum depression, but he said it occurs when the child is eight to 10 months old.

“Not an older child — I’ve never had that,” he said.

And Dufresne’s husband, Murray Fitzpatrick, is now left without his family, first losing his daughter, then his wife. Understandably, he isn’t interested in talking.

Contacted by the Sun Thursday, he hung up the phone — politely, but quickly.

So now friends and family can only wonder how a woman who appeared on the outside as a happy, loving parent, could take her own daughter’s life.

For most of us, it’s unthinkable, unimaginable.

At the time of little Sophie’s death, friends and neighbours described Dufresne as a loving, attentive mother.

Good friends Sue Marchand and her husband Claude have known the Fitzpatricks for almost 20 years. They were the best kind of parents, they said at the time of Sophie’s shocking death.

Little Sophie was the light of everyone’s lives, according to the couple. Sophie had been in Canada for 5½ years, adopted by the Fitzpatricks from China.

“Kathy is a very good friend of mine and so is Murray,” said Sue Marchand, adding she went to the movies with Dufresne every Tuesday.

Sue Marchand had seen Sophie just days before he death as the girl made her way home from school with her mother.

While some have hinted at marital discord, Lora has earlier insisted the relationship between Fitzpatrick and Dufresne had nothing to do the attempted murder-suicide.

Whatever demons danced in Kathrine Dufresne’s head likely died with her.

Lora said through all of his dealings with his clients, she appeared normal.

“From everything I saw, she seemed quite sane when I was dealing with her,” he said.

He can’t explain what happened when she took her daughter’s life.

“It was 10 minutes of insanity when she killed her daughter. Killing herself was probably the sanest thing she did.”


Chelsea killer mom dies in hospital

By Larissa Cahute - Ottawa Sun

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Chelsea mother who killed her seven-year-old daughter used her few minutes of privacy in prison to end her life.

Kathrine Dufresne, 53, died in Hull hospital around 9 p.m. Wednesday after hanging herself in the Hull Detention Centre at 11 that morning.

“Mrs. Dufresne was under visual (monitoring) almost full-time. There was a short moment to take a shower that she took advantage of,” said the president of the Quebec prison guards’ union, Stephane Lemaire. “The guard had a bad feeling, she broke down the door and went in the shower and saw the woman had hanged herself.”

On Oct. 22, Dufresne’s husband, Murray Fitzpatrick, returned to the family’s Chelsea home after a business trip to find his daughter, Sophie, strangled and his wife injured.

Quebec police sources at the time told QMI Agency it was a botched murder-suicide. A letter found by police outlined the circumstances, according to sources.

Dufresne was awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges.

“This is at least the second (suicide attempt),” said her lawyer, Wayne Lora.

Earlier this week, a Quebec judge found Dufresne fit to stand trial.

“I wasn’t very happy (about that),” said Lora.

He believes his client suffered from some sort of mental illness or condition.

“It was 10 minutes of insanity when she killed her daughter,” he said. “If you think it takes someone to be mentally ill to try to commit suicide it would be proved.”

He was planning a second psychiatric assessment.

“I had hired probably one of the best psychiatrists in the area,” he said. “We were just trying to get things into motion.”

As Dufresne awaited trial, Lora said, she wasn’t on suicide watch, although she was supposed to be checked on often to see if she was depressed, and if so, taken to hospital.

Lora said her death isn’t a result of a lapse in jail protocol.

“If someone is going to commit suicide they’re going to do it — you can tie them down and they’re still going to find some way of doing it,” he said. “Maybe this was the best thing for (Dufresne).”

Lora said Dufresne was an intelligent woman who knew what she wanted.

“And I think she took the measures to assure herself of that,” he said. “She had tried to kill herself before in a very serious way — it’s just truly accidental that she survived.”

According to Lora, Dufresne was “functioning fairly well in other aspects.”

Police are still investigating.

A man who answered Murray Fitzpatrick’s phone Thursday declined to comment.


Chelsea mom fit to stand trial

Jessica Beddaoui - Ottawa Sun

Monday, January 09, 2012

A Chelsea mother charged in the death of her 7-year-old adopted daughter has been cleared to stand trial.

Kathrine Dufresne, 53, made a brief appearance in Gatineau court Monday and was remanded until Feb.28.

Dufresne was dressed in grey sweatpants and a white sweater, her blond hair only slightly disheveled.

At her first court appearance in October she appeared dazed and stunned but on Monday she was alert while speaking to her lawyer and scanning faces in the courtroom.

On Oct. 22, Dufresne’s husband Murray Fitzpatrick returned home from a business trip and found his daughter Sophie Fitzpatrick unconscious and his wife injured inside their family home in the Kingsmere neighbourhood of Chelsea, Que.

Sophie was pronounced dead in Hull hospital and Dufresne suffered from non-life-threatening injuries.

Neighbours told the Sun that Sophie had just started Grade 2 at the Montessori school on Old Chelsea Rd — she was adopted from China almost six years ago.

After reviewing a medical report on her well being, court was told the case could proceed to trial.

Defence lawyer Wayne Lora said the report suggested Dufresne be monitored regularly while in provincial prison because her risk of suicide is believed to be high.

“They have asked the prison to watch her and to test her regularly,” Lora told the Sun.


Mom charged in Chelsea murder

Seven-year-old girl strangled in home

By Justin Sadler and Kelly Roche - Ottawa Sun

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CHELSEA — The mother of seven-year-old Sophie Fitzpatrick has been charged with murder in the strangulation death of her daughter.

The adopted girl from China was found inside the family home Saturday by her father, Murray Fitzpatrick, who had just returned from a business trip.

His wife, Katherine, 53, had tried to kill herself, police sources told QMI Agency, and remained in hospital.

Sources said a letter was allegedly found in which the horrific act is explained.

Sue Marchand and her husband Claude have known the Fitzpatricks for almost 20 years.

“Horrible,” Sue Marchand said before police confirmed the mother had been charged. “It’s beyond belief.

“She was a fantastic girl.”

They were the best kind of parents, Claude Marchand said.

Earlier Sunday, three sunflowers lay at the top of the Fitzpatrick laneway at 80 Barnes Rd., perhaps one for each of the lives shattered in the alleged murder-attempted suicide.

Little Sophie was the light of everyone’s lives, according to her neighbour.

Sophie had been in Canada for five-and-a-half years, adopted by the Fitzpatricks, who were described as loving and caring parents.

“Kathy is a very good friend of mine and so is Murray,” said Sue Marchand, who went to the movies with Katherine Fitzpatrick every Tuesday.

Claude Marchand said Sophie’s birthday wasn’t known when she was brought to Canada, so the Fitzpatricks celebrated it on Canada Day.

But somehow, the unthinkable happened Saturday inside the family home.

Away on a business trip, investment adviser and financial planner Murray Fitzpatrick returned home to find Sophie strangled and his wife, who had tried to kill herself, Quebec police sources told QMI Agency.

The pair was rushed to hospital, where the girl was pronounced dead.

Murray Fitzpatrick’s grief manifested in anger when he answered the door of the family home Sunday morning and demanded reporters leave the property.

“Please, give us privacy,” he said.

“You think you know someone,” Sue Marchand said. “To hear that something’s happened to the family, it’s beyond belief. When you’re a parent and you have a child, you just can’t imagine.”

Sue Marchand had seen Sophie on Thursday as the girl made her way home from school with her mother.

Nothing seemed awry with Katherine Fitzpatrick, her friend said.

“She was just like she always is; bubbly, outgoing, friendly, funny. She asked me if I wanted to pay her bills 'cause we were at the mailbox and I said, ‘No, I’ve got enough, thanks’. ”

Sophie had just started a new school year — Grade 2 — at the Montessori school on Old Chelsea Rd.

“For Murray, Sophie was the highlight of his life, the child he always wanted and he got one,” Sue Marchand said. “And Kathy, the love of his life, and I don’t know how he’s going to cope with all of this. I don’t know how anybody copes with it.”


The victim

Seven-year-old Sophie Fitzpatrick was killed at her home at 80 Barnes Rd. in Chelsea, Que., by her mother Kathrine Dufresne, who later committed suicide.
(Justin Sadler/Ottawa Sun)



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