Police probe Facebook `babykiller' vigilantes

Jun 14, 2007 04:30 AM


Police are investigating an online group condemning a northern Ontario woman accused of leaving her baby to die as a "babykiller".

Authorities are worried there may be a threat to her safety.

The Facebook group, which has about 200 members, advocates Tabitha Etches be chased "out of town" for the alleged crime and urges members to show up at her next court date with signs to "show (their) hate for her."

Some of the obscenity-laced messages posted on the popular social networking site call the woman "sick" and "twisted," expressing the hope that she will "rot in hell" or be beaten in prison.

"We need to make a statement that five years is not enough time for a crime like this," one member wrote. "Newborns are people too!"

While no concerns have yet been raised about Etches' safety, police will look into the online group immediately, North Bay police Sgt. Chuck Seguin said yesterday. "Anything that might present some kind of danger to the accused is certainly of concern to us, and we don't want any type of vigilantism going on or any behaviour of that type."

"This is before the criminal courts. It's not up to other people to decide on guilt or innocence."

Etches, 25, has been in custody since Friday on charges of infanticide and neglecting to get help in childbirth. Two teens found the body of a baby boy near a walking trail March 30. Investigators say the full-term infant, wrapped in a towel in a plastic bag, was likely alive when abandoned last winter.

During the investigation, police canvassed the community for leads, implored the mother to come forward and released photos of the orange towel found with the baby in the hopes it would lead them to her.

The mother was identified through DNA analysis by the Centre of Forensic Sciences. The cause of the child's death is not known.

Held at the North Bay Jail, Etches is expected back in court June 26.

Canadian Press