Calgary Herald

Friday 2 July 1999

Please understand: Dad

Mom accused in kids' deaths suffers extreme depression

Jeff Adams, Juliet Williams, and Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald


Home of Craig and Diana Yano at 38 Shannon Cr. S.W.


Chris Bolin, Calgary Herald / Pastor Jared Enns removes the Yanos' belongings from Windermere villa.


Diana and Craig Yano are shown in a family photo in 1985.


Photo: CFCN / Diana Yano

Distraught Calgary father Craig Yano expressed love for his two dead children, and sympathy for his wife accused of drowning them, in a heart-wrenching statement to the Herald late Thursday night.

"My two most wonderful, most beautiful, most precious children -- Brittany and Joshua -- are gone," Yano said.

"The grief and suffering felt by myself and my family are beyond words, and is something that I would hope no parent should ever feel."

Yano, his wife Diana, five-year-old Brittany and three-year-old Joshua arrived at Fairmont, B.C., last Saturday and checked into the 116-unit Mountainside Vacation Villa, where they've had a week-long time-share contract for seven years.

When Yano returned from golfing on Tuesday about 4 p.m., he discovered his children dead in the bathtub and called for an ambulance.

Attendants alerted police, who arrested Diana at the condo at 5:30 p.m. and later charged her with two counts of second-degree murder.

In his statement, Yano said: "Two years ago, Diana suffered a serious battle with cancer that left her susceptible to extreme depression.

"No one can fully understand what has happened in these past few days.

"However, what is known for sure is that Diana was a very loving mother to our two kids, and always wanted what was best for them."

The 37-year-old woman appeared Wednesday in B.C. provincial court in Cranbrook. A judge ordered a 30-day psychiatric assessment, for which she has been transported to Vancouver.

Diana has been placed under a suicide watch -- because of the nature of the charges, rather than because she's attempted to kill herself, said RCMP Cpl. Steve Robertson.

"We have a father who's totally devastated," said Cranbrook lawyer Patrick Dearden, who has been hired by the Yanos.

"Can you imagine coming home and finding your children dead? To me, it's totally inconceivable. But to this gentleman, it's not inconceivable. It happened."

The veteran criminal lawyer said his meetings with Yano and other family members have been agonizing.

"In my office yesterday (Wednesday), I had more emotions flowing than I've experienced in years."

Yano said his family members and friends -- including members of the Southview Alliance Church that he, Diana and their children have been attending -- have been very supportive.

"I thank God for the many people who have shown their love and care for both Diana and I," he said.

Those people include members of Lake Windermere Alliance Church in Invermere, about a half-hour drive from the two-bedroom condo in which Brittany and Joshua died. Church members drove to the Mountainside Vacation Villa complex Thursday, gathered up the dead children's toys and the family's luggage and loaded it into the family's red mini-van.

"They (Craig and Diana) need prayers and support right now," said Lake Windermere Alliance pastor Jared Enns.

In southwest Calgary's Shawnessy neighbourhood, where the Yanos have lived for years, a neighbour said the drownings were "out of the blue."

Laurie Neske, who called herself a close friend of the accused, said the case is "so tragic. Diana's world was her children. This is something you can't ever fathom. I don't know how he (Craig) can cope."

Neske said she and Diana are piano teachers: "We were always comparing notes and students. That was our link."

Neske said although Diana hasn't exhibited signs of ill health since her gloomy bout with breast cancer, she and Craig are "very private people."

Mike Contini, president of the Shawnessy Community Association, was shocked when told of the deaths.

"It's heartbreaking to hear something like this," said the father of two young children.

Cpl. Robertson said forensic experts at the RCMP's Vancouver crime lab are conducting tests to determine if Brittany and Joshua were drugged before they drowned, although preliminary information indicates otherwise.

Most on-scene investigative work is done, but police may need to interview more witnesses, Robertson said.

"We have 30 days for a psychiatric assessment, so that gives us some breathing room."

Robertson noted there was no apparent witness to the crime, and Craig Yano was never a suspect.

Police have no motive, although Robertson said they do have theories.

The discovery of the children was extremely troubling, even for veteran police officers, he added. All emergency personnel at the crime scene have received trauma counselling.

Mountainside Vacation Villa manager Bastiaan Winckers said the Yanos were typical, seemingly happy members of the community, about two-thirds of whom are sun-loving Calgarians willing to make the three-hour drive west.

Father's Statement

Statement supplied to the Herald from Craig Yano, father of Brittany and Joshua

"A terrible tragedy has occurred in my family. My two most wonderful, most beautiful, most precious children, Brittany and Joshua, are gone. The grief and suffering felt by myself and my family are beyond words, and is something that I would hope no parent should ever have to feel. I thank God for the many people who have shown their love and care for both Diana and I. Your concern and prayers are very much appreciated.

"Two years ago, Diana suffered a serious battle with cancer that left her susceptible to extreme depressions. No one can fully understand what has happened in these past few days. However, what is known for sure is that Diana was a very loving mother to our two kids, and always wanted what was best for them.

"All of our family and friends, and our loving God, continue to support Diana in this very dark hour. I, my family and friends, would like to thank you in advance for allowing us the privacy to mourn and to start to heal in this time of sorrow. We would appreciate that any further questions be directed to our lawyer, Patrick Dearden in Cranbrook."

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