N.S. woman admits she strangled daughter to keep
'Mommy, don't': girl's last words revealed as Penny
Last Updated: Friday, January 30,
Penny Boudreau sobbed as she apologized in court Friday. She was
sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 20 years after pleading
guilty to second-degree murder.(CBC)
A woman from Bridgewater, N.S., has been handed a life sentence with no
parole eligibility for 20 years for strangling her only child after her
boyfriend gave her an ultimatum.
Penny Boudreau, 34, pleaded guilty
Friday to second-degree murder in the death of 12-year-old Karissa
The girl's frozen body was found on the outskirts of Bridgewater on
Feb. 9, 2008, about two weeks after her mother reported her missing.
Boudreau, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, told the court, "I'm
When asked about the apology, Paul Boudreau, Karissa's father, said
bluntly: "Crocodile tears."
"Justice has been served," he added.
Justice Margaret Stewart, who handed down the sentence at the Nova
Scotia Supreme Court in Bridgewater, said the horrible crime merited a
"You can never call yourself mother in conjunction with Karissa's
name again," Stewart said.
Karissa's relatives sobbed loudly as Crown attorney Paul Scovil read
out the grim details of the girl's final moments in an agreed statement
The court heard that Boudreau's boyfriend, Vernon Macumber, told her
she had to choose between him and her daughter if she wanted to save
Carried body to river
It was dark and snowy on Jan. 27, 2008, when Boudreau drove the girl
to a remote spot on William Hebb Road in Hebbville, near Bridgewater.
They got out of the car and argued. Boudreau tackled her daughter,
knelt on her chest and strangled her with a length of twine.
Boudreau could feel the girl's hands digging into the ground as she
Karissa's last words were, "Mommy, don't."
Boudreau then put the body in the car and threw away the twine in a
She drove to a spot along the LaHave River, and as she dragged the
body, pulled down Karissa's pants to give the impression the girl had
been sexually assaulted. She then rolled the body down an embankment.
Karissa Boudreau, 12, was a Grade 6 student at
Bridgewater Elementary School.(Bridgewater
Boudreau later tossed several pieces of Karissa's clothing in the
garbage can at the local swimming pool.
When she got home, she told police her daughter had run away. She
also called friends and teachers to spread the story.
Stewart had harsh words for Boudreau.
"The words, 'Mommy, don't' from a trusting and loving Karissa are
there to haunt you for the rest of your life," she said.
Paul Boudreau is still trying to comprehend what happened. Karissa
was living with him at one point but moved to Bridgewater to be with her
"I can't call it anything other than a senseless act," said Boudreau,
adding his ex-girlfriend had options.
"Had I known this was going to happen, I would have never let her go
back. But what parent is going to say, 'No, you can't go back and see
your mother,'" he said.
Penny Boudreau was charged with first-degree murder in June 2008. At
the time, police said they believed Karissa knew her killer.
Scovil said Boudreau had two motives: to save her faltering
relationship with Macumber and keep Karissa from publicly calling her a
He said he agreed to the lesser charge of second-degree murder to
give the family some closure and avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
Murder carries an automatic life sentence. Both the Crown and defence
recommended parole eligibility after 20 years.
"All in all, it was the right thing to do," Scovil said.
As for Macumber, Scovil said there was no evidence he wanted his
girlfriend to kill her daughter. He said Boudreau made it clear that she
was solely responsible.
"We suspected very strongly that he must have had an idea. But there
was no evidence to suggest that he either had concrete evidence or
assisted in any way," Scovil said.
Undercover police investigation
The grim truth of what happened to the girl came out as a result of
an undercover police investigation.
Boudreau gave the details to officers posing as organized crime
bosses, who said they could help her destroy evidence held by police.
Karissa's story has gripped the small Nova Scotia community ever
since her mother made a tearful plea at a news conference for her
daughter's safe return.
Boudreau said they had had a fight in the parking lot of a grocery
store, and when she came back to the car, Karissa was gone.
Several searches of the area turned up no sign of the young girl.
Two weeks later, a passerby discovered Karissa's frozen body on the
bank of the LaHave River.
Paul Boudreau said he had suspicions about his ex-girlfriend from the
moment Karissa was reported missing.
"Any parent knows their child, and when a child does something way
out of character, you know from Day 1 it's not true," he said.
Rumours had been circulating around Bridgewater, too.
Wendy Rhodenizer, a resident who helped organized this week's
candlelight vigil, said the town is going to have an even tougher time
healing now that the details of Karissa's death are out.
"We'd heard some really vicious rumours at the beginning, and we
didn't know what to believe," she said. "I will say one thing, I'm
extremely impressed with the investigators in this."
Senior officers with the RCMP and local police say hardened
investigators were reduced to tears during their long undercover
Though Penny Boudreau was sentenced to life with no eligibility for
parole for 20 years, she can apply for early parole after 15 years under
what is known as the faint-hope clause of the Criminal Code.