Killer had voluntarily begun counselling

Hoped to control emotions, reconcile with wife, mother says

Zev Singer, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Francois Mailly, who died late Sunday after killing his wife and three children, had voluntarily begun counselling in recent months, his mother, Mary Jane Mailly, said yesterday.

Mr. Mailly went, Mrs. Mailly said, in the hope that getting professional help with his emotions would give him a chance to reconcile with his wife and live once again with her and the children.

Mrs. Mailly, grieving over the loss of her son, her daughter-in-law and three of her six grandchildren, said her son was not a perfect man. But the story of the five tragic deaths, she said, is a story of a man who was, if anything, too focussed on being with his family.

"I know it's not right what he did, but it's my son," she said. "He's not a monster."

Mrs. Mailly said her son was a man with strong ideas about what he thought was right and, at times, had difficulty being flexible. She said he went to anger management counselling, arranged through his job as a Canada Post letter carrier, to help him become better at accepting people as they are.

"He knew himself," she said, adding that he was determined to do whatever it took to overcome the troubles he was having with his wife, Francine -- even if it meant talking to a stranger about his feelings. He was not a man who believed in doctors, she said.

"For him to do that," she said of his decision to start counselling, "that was a big thing for him."

Mrs. Mailly recalled the day her eldest grandchild, Francois' daughter, Jessica, was born. She said her son was in the delivery room, but stayed in the corner because he couldn't stand the sight of blood.

Mrs. Mailly, who was also in the delivery room, said her son was reduced to tears when his child was born. Ever since, she said, his children had been the absolute focus of his life.

"If he could have put his family in a cocoon, he would have done it," she said.

Mr. Mailly's brother, Shawn, said yesterday Francois had registered a business under the name Brandon and Kevin Auto Restoration. The idea was to work together on cars with his sons.

He had bought a 1958 Cadillac that was to be a future project. He also created a dirt track at his farmhouse on which he used to let his three children drive an old Dodge Colt around -- with him always in the passenger seat with his hand on the emergency brake.

He took the family to a restaurant every Sunday.

Every day, Shawn Mailly said, his brother, who finished his postal route in the morning, would have dinner ready for his wife and children when they got home.

In an effort to provide for the family as best he could, he took on extra work, fixing cars and even joining crews to set up concert venues for big shows.

Mr. Mailly said the counselling was an acknowledgement on his brother's part that in some ways his concern for his family was too strong.

Francois Mailly was very particular about the way he watched out for his children. If they went outside to play, he went with them.

He never allowed anyone but a few very close family members to babysit them.

He also worried about who was interacting with his children when they were taking part in sports.

He worried about pedophiles. Sometimes at the hockey rink where his sons played, he would inquire about men he didn't recognize.

"He was not a trusting person," Shawn Mailly said.

While there is no doubt in Shawn Mailly's mind that his brother felt he was protecting the family he loved, he said his brother was becoming aware that he would have to change some of the ways he expressed that love. The message from the counselling sessions had sunk in enough for him to repeat it to his brother.

Shawn Mailly remembers the words his brother told him the counsellor told him: "You've got to work on Frank first, and then you can work on the family."

"He was trying," Shawn Mailly's wife, Lynne, said.

Mary Jane Mailly said her son didn't drink, smoke or run around. He had only one focus: his family. She said she cannot let the way his life ended erase all he had done up until his final day.

"You'll never take the love I have for him away from me. He brought me so much joy in my life," she said.

She will just try to remember all five of the people who were taken from her.

"I'll miss them terribly," she said.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2006