National Post

Saturday, February 27, 1999

Parents defend daughter
Alleged murder plot

Gary Dimmock
Ottawa Citizen


Chris Mikula, Ottawa Citizen / Frank and Maria Bonacci leave the courthouse after the hearing of their daughter, who is accused of hiring a hitman to kill them.

A Sunday school teacher charged with hiring a hitman to kill her brother and parents is being defended by both her mother and father, who insist police made a mistake.

Frank and Maria Bonacci deny their 27-year-old daughter, who lives at home, hatched an elaborate plot to end their "emotional abuse" and collect a substantial family inheritance they say doesn't exist.

"The whole thing has been blown out of proportion because my daughter would never hurt anyone," Mr. Bonacci said. "My daughter is the type of person who would help someone when they are down and out. She helps people.

"She's just going through a lot of hurt and I just want to take her home," her 50-year-old father said.

Teresa Bonacci was arrested Wednesday following a week-long police probe in which an undercover officer posed as a would-be hitman for hire.

Earlier that day, authorities say Ms. Bonacci paid $20,000 as a "down payment" for the contract killings. She is charged with three counts of counselling to commit murder, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

At a court hearing yesterday, Ms. Bonacci cried softly in the prisoner's box and then flashed a smile to her mother and whispered: "I love you."

A court psychiatrist who examined her briefly said she is fit to stand trial and recalled that the young woman claimed she had suffered emotional abuse at the hands of her parents.

Dr. Reghuvaran Kunjukrishnan said the accused is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. "She is depressed and has certain feelings that something wasn't quite real," Dr. Kunjukrishnan told court.

Ms. Bonacci, a part-time Carleton University student, remains in custody and is scheduled for a 30-day psychiatric assessment. Judge Patrick White dismissed a defence motion to release her, on the grounds she is a danger to the public.

Her mother burst into tears and her father cried out her name when police escorted her from court. Her parents are struggling to understand how their daughter. She is to appear in court March 26.

Copyright Southam Inc.