Comment: Ruby Ann Ruffolo made mockery of system


Manipulation led to years of delays and other criminals will try it, too



Lois Ruffolo holds a framed photograph of her son, John Ruffolo -- killed by his wife, Ruby Ann. The victim's mother walks with his sister, Sarina, left, his father, Mario, and sister, Mena Westhaver, at the Victoria courthouse yesterday.

Photograph by: Debra Brash, Times Colonist, Times Colonist

My son was murdered on Oct. 19, 2003. He wanted a divorce, but his wife wasn't willing to share the marital assets. We were devastated -- it's an indescribable pain.

What followed were seven years of hurtful rumours that compounded that pain.

Finally, I can publicly say John Ruffolo wasn't, and never was, a heroin user or dealer. He was not a slumlord and never ran escort services. He was a loving, hard-working man -- a son that any parent would be proud of.

These allegations were put forth by one person -- his murderer -- in an attempt to divert guilt elsewhere. Parents can only imagine how difficult it was to endure such publicity.

Louise Dickson's story in the Times Colonist on Nov. 21 was a long-awaited relief -- the truth was out.

Here's a snapshot of my son's marriage. After his death, we learned his wife and killer, Ruby Ann Ruffolo, was eight years older than John had believed; she had four children he never knew about; her eight-year "terminal cancer" simply never was; and the "nephew" living with them turned out to be her son.

John knew she was trying to have him killed and was living in fear. He was controlled and lived under the constant threat of losing his child. Had he reported the threats on his life, he might be alive today. I hope men learn from this and won't be reluctant to report abuse -- emotional or physical. It's real and only escalates.

Our system allowed his murderer to walk freely among society (on bail) for seven years. Family members shouldn't have to pass their loved one's killer on the street on a daily basis.

Our system is so hung up on the rights of the accused that the court's hands seem tied at every turn. When a criminal knows the law -- she has a law degree -- the system is easily played.

Since October 2003, she has made a mockery of the system. Month after month, year after year, we left the courtroom in disbelief and friends left in shock and disgust. If they hadn't seen it with their own eyes, they never would have believed it.

Unfortunately for me, I had to see it, and I want the taxpayers to be told what this charade has cost them.

In the U.S., she'd have been dealt with years ago and would likely be looking at far more than 25 years.

The system should focus on justice for victims, not on coddling the criminals. Many times, I felt my son was forgotten in all this and that his murder simply provided a stage for an accused and defence lawyer to play games. I wouldn't wish my horror on anyone, but I do wonder if the family of a victim with an "important" last name would have endured such performances and waited seven years for justice and closure.

In contrast, I'm so grateful to every member of the Saanich Police Department, the West Shore RCMP and prosecution team involved in this case, in particular Sgt. Glen Mackenzie of Saanich and Crown prosecutor Scott van Alstine -- both are credits to their professions.

So many people worked tirelessly to bring justice for John, with genuine compassion and professionalism. The witnesses who came forward, the amazing members of the jury and the "angels" who miraculously found my son -- I will never forget you. I was so fortunate to have the support of many dear friends and loving family. I would not have made it without them.

I think of my beautiful son every single day -- a fun-loving, caring, good person, liked by all who met him and deeply loved and missed by his family.

This is yet another case that needs to be examined for its inexcusable delays and manipulation of the system.

I've been told that there's never been another situation like it, but this farce will soon be repeated.

Criminals who observed this process will be anxious to try it, as the tactics delayed the inevitable for seven years.

The public has a right to see where their tax dollars are going; television cameras should be placed in our courtrooms. No one would have been impressed with what they saw here. This "show" was simply embarrassing to watch.

Lois Ruffolo is the mother of John Ruffolo.