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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - Cut and cooked strips of flesh and fat from the boy's body in a ritual he said was inspired by the horror movie Warlock
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 8, 1995
Date of birth: 1980
Victim profile: Johnathan George Thimpsen, 7
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Beating with a beer bottle and a rock
Location: La Ronge, Northern Saskatchewan, Canada
Status: Found not guilty by reason of insanity on August 2, 1996. Transferred to psychiatric hospital

LaRonge, Saskatchewan: 14-year-old Sandy Charles murdered a 7-year-old boy. He was fascinated with the horror movie Warlock and its sequel, which he watched 10 times before the child was killed and mutilated. Mutilations done to the child mirrored incidents depicted in the movie. (Case in Saskatoon renews criticisms of TV violence, Globe and Mail, June 20, 1996)


Sandy Charles

After watching the movie Warlock 10 times, 14-year-old Sandy Charles of Saskatchewan killed an eight-year-old boy by stabbing him with a knife and then beating him with a beer bottle and a rock. After killing the boy, Charles cut strips of skin from his victim and boiled them down. Warlock claimed that if you drank boiled-down fat from a virgin, it would give you the power to fly. Charles wanted to fly.


Killings by Teen-Agers Up Sharply in Canada

By Clyde H. Farnsworth - The New York Times

August 24, 1995

Johnathan George Thimpsen was born in this isolated Indian community on Dec. 30, 1987, and was killed here on July 8, 1995.

Playful and outgoing, he had a winsome smile and a couple of missing front teeth. His hero was Zorro, the masked, caped, sword-wielding vanquisher of villains.

His body was found on July 11 in the aspen and cedar woods a few hundred yards from his grandmother's house on Sinotte Crescent. His throat was slashed, his head crushed.

The police arrested a 14-year-old boy and a 7-year-old accomplice, stunning this former fur-trading outpost, now a mining center, nearly 400 miles north of Regina.

The arrest of the children highlighted a rise in killings committed by Canadian youths. Among other high-profile cases in recent weeks: two 14-year-old girls were charged with stabbing a man to death in Calgary; the police arrested five teen-agers for beating a fisherman to death in Prince Rupert; six teen-agers were apprehended for the death of a man on welfare living in a tent in Dawson City.

Although Canada considers the United States a hotbed of crime, the numbers show Canada catching up, and killings by youngsters in Canada are up sharply. During all of the 1960's, there were 75 homicide suspects under the age of 16, according to Statistics Canada, the Government's statistical agency. But in the three years from 1992 through 1994, after the youth crime category was changed to include 17-year-old's, there were 150 such suspects.

"Use any word you want -- shocking, scary, frightening," said Barb Riley, a reporter for The Northerner, the local weekly, "but it's something the people here want to address and find answers for, and I think they're starting down that road."

One answer appears to be in easing the wretched conditions in aboriginal communities plagued by poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and painful cultural uprooting.

A hearing in November will determine whether the 14-year-old, who is charged with first-degree murder and is in custody in Saskatoon, will be tried as an adult.

The 7-year-old, a cousin of the victim, is too young to be charged and has been turned over to Social Services workers. Criminal responsibility begins in Canada at age 12.

The Young Offenders Act bars identification of either boy.

When a bail hearing was held for the accused last month at the La Ronge courthouse, "a slight, light-skinned native youth shuffled into the court, took his place in the prisoner's dock, looked briefly around the room, and then buried his head on his knees for the balance of the proceedings," wrote the news magazine Western Report,

According to those who knew him, the teen-ager, raised by a single mother, was not considered a trouble-maker. He was described as studious and even took part in a science fair mounted this year by his seventh-grade class at the Churchill School, a junior high and high school.

"Not your stereotypical, tattooed punk hanging out in the pool hall," noted one resident, who asked not to be identified.

La Ronge is an area of 5,500 people, mostly young, mostly Indian. Unemployment has been as high as 50 percent. Much of the work is seasonal, like harvesting and bagging wild rice after the short summer.

Although gold and uranium mining and diamond prospecting are on the upswing in the region, many employers tend to import technicians, engineers, surveyors and other specialists from the south.

Michelle Harding is the elected area director for the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan, representing people of mixed white-Indian ancestry, a large proportion of the town. She ruminated as she sipped coffee behind her desk in an office on La Ronge Avenue, the town's main drag along the banks of a vast lake:

"We've not only lost Johnathan, but we've lost another child, and possibly a third, and I think sadly about what their lives could have been like, and also I think what could force an innocent child, or should be innocent at 14, to do something so heinous."

Because of the publication ban, it may be months before any of this is known. Yet some indication of the torment of many youths is reflected by calls that come into a telephone crisis line operated by the La Ronge Native Women's Council.

Last year the center received calls about 514 children. The calls related to parents drinking, abandoned children, safety at risk, parental battery, other battery, sexual assault, suicide attempts by the child, suicide attempts by the parent, substance abuse, domestic disputes, parents in crisis and runaways from foster care. Two-thirds of the total crisis calls were about children.

"There must be some full-scale concerted effort to heal the families of this community," said Cec Allen, who is in charge of a project to build a local child shelter for the Native Women's Council. "If not, we won't have any community left."

Already there are signs the community is fraying. Five people were slain here in 1993, giving the town brief statistical notoriety as Canada's murder capital. Sexual assaults are rife.

As in other northern communities, La Ronge is plagued by a high rate of suicides, especially among youths, a further sign of the economic and social depression and cultural dysfunction that are part of life here.

The high rates of poverty, unemployment and substance abuse, combined with low levels of education and the prevalence of single motherhood, give many northern Indian communities characteristics similar to inner cities of the United States, said Irvin Waller, a University of Ottawa criminologist.

Another "disturbing parallel," he said, is access to firearms, handguns in the American inner cities, long guns used for hunting in the north.

Until a generation ago, said Prof. Doug Durst of the Department of Social Work at the University of Regina, Indians were routinely educated in residential schools where they had to abandon their language and culture. Beatings reinforced lessons. Widespread sexual abuse has also been documented.

"Having been abused physically and sexually, parents from those schools are not good parents themselves," Professor Durst said. "A whole population is caught between two worlds, troubled and confused."

For the children who knew Johnathan Thimpsen, the loss was painful and troubling.

"When we think about this, we're just crying all time," said Jaya Ramayya, assistant director at the day-care cooperative where Johnathan had been taken daily by his mother, Cindy Thimpsen. At a ceremony last month, mental health experts from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band urged the children to write short notes to Johnathan and slip them into helium balloons that ascended to the heavens.

"Many wrote, 'We love you, Johnathan'," Ms. Ramayya recalled. "It rained, and so the children noted that Johnathan's tears were falling."


Sandy Charles, 14, of Saskatoon, SK, Canada stabbed and smothered a 7 year old boy in La Ronge SK on 1995-JUL-8.

He and an 8 year old accomplice carved 10 to 15 strips of flesh and fat from the body. He took the body parts home, cooked them, and ate them. Charles was suffering from bizarre delusions and becoming schizophrenic when he watched the movie Warlock and its sequel Warlock II at least 10 times.

One media source also quotes The Exorcist. The Warlock series are horror movies which describe Gothic Satanist rituals and concepts, including the belief that if a person drinks the liquefied fat of an unbaptised child, they would gain special powers - in this case, the power to fly.

He told the police "There's a spirit in my room that gave me these thoughts". He had been contemplating suicide but a voice told him that it might be just as good to kill someone else. At his trial in 1996-JUN, a psychiatrist testified that the accused "did not see the victim as human but as an object whose death was necessary to fulfill his deluded plan". On 1996-AUG-2, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge concluded that Sandy Charles "was suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt of criminal responsibility".

There was no organized Satanic group involved in this murder. Charles was driven by his own delusions and mental illness, rather than by any religious belief in Satanism. The source of the child's particular delusions were based on the "Gothic Satanism" hoax promoted by the movies. That hoax is in turn based on late Middle Age and Renaissance beliefs which are unrelated to Satanism and Witchcraft as they were practiced, then or now.


Teen may get to walk hospital grounds

CBC News

Monday, November 16, 1998

A dangerous inmate may be allowed to walk the grounds of his mental health hospital thanks to a new satellite-tracking system.

Sandy Charles was institutionalized three years ago after being found not criminally responsible for the slaying of a seven-year-old boy. Charles cut and cooked strips of flesh and fat from the boy's body in a ritual he said was inspired by the horror movie Warlock.

Charles has not been allowed outside the hospital's psychiatric ward since March. At that time he escaped from his guards and wandered for 15 hours before being recaptured.

Friday, a review board at the hosptial said he should be allowed to walk the hospital grounds, but only if he agrees to wear a device that allows a satellite to monitor his location.

Police say Charles is extremely dangerous.


Mental patient sentenced for assault on nurse

CBC News

Monday, June 26, 2000

A young man charged with murder a few years ago was in more trouble recently.

Sandy Charles has been living in the Psychatric Centre in Saskatoon since 1996, when he was found to be mentally ill, and not responsible for the death of a La Ronge boy.

Monday, Charles found himself back in court, accused of assaulting a prison nurse. Court was told Charles got into a fight, and knocked the nurse unconscious.

He was sentenced to one day in jail, already served.



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