Globe and Mail

Boy found dead; sister missing

Police searching Bow River for baby girl after mother, 23, contacts Calgary police

Dawn Walton
The Globe and Mail
Friday, June 8, 2001

CALGARY -- Rie Fujii leans back as she presses her left cheek against her son's face. Her arm appears outstretched to snap the picture in which both mother and toddler, Dominic Ryu Brown, have open-mouthed smiles and a shine in their eyes.

In another photo Ms. Fujii manages a grin as she sits with her long black hair draped over her right shoulder.

As she coddles her newborn daughter Gemini Brown, medical equipment is positioned behind them. Tubes drape across the arm of the chair and snake up to Gemini's tiny head.

Homicide investigators in Calgary developed the film yesterday at the same time as divers scoured the murky waters of the Bow River and officials searched the water's edge for Gemini's body.

Police believe the three-month-old girl, dressed in a yellow terry sleeper and a pink dress, and wrapped in a blanket, was sealed in plastic bags and dumped into the river some time during the past two weeks.

The search started two days after the decomposing body of Gemini's 15-month-old brother was discovered in Ms. Fujii's recently vacated downtown apartment.

Yesterday, the 23-year-old mother of two was charged with neglecting to bury a human body. She is scheduled to appear in Provincial Court this morning.

Although it's a little-used section of the Criminal Code, Staff Sergeant George Rocks said, if Ms. Fujii is found guilty, she could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.

You can't have somebody die and just walk away, he said.

Staff Sgt. Rocks said Ms. Fujii, a Japanese citizen who has been in Calgary for the past four years on a student visa, could face more charges as police continue their investigation.

A distraught Ms. Fujii turned herself in to police Wednesday night with the help of friends.

Police wouldn't reveal what she said or how they knew to search the Bow River, which runs through the centre of the city. They said they were acting on information they believe is reliable.

"I hope that we'll be successful, or we wouldn't be here. I'm quite confident," Staff Sgt. Rocks said.

Police are trying to contact the children's father, a Calgary resident, who didn't live in the modest apartment building in the city's southeast where Dominic's body was found Tuesday.

When police entered the apartment, they found no furniture except for a playpen. Toys were strewn about. They found Dominic's body lying on the bedroom floor.

Officials wouldn't say whether he was clothed, placed on a blanket; nor would they give the cause of death.

Residents of the building said they heard continual crying, sometimes for hours at a time, day and night, for more than two weeks. A few days ago the crying was replaced with silence, said Monica Giroux, who lives in the suite below where Dominic was found.

"It was just loud up there . . . the baby crying non-stop."

At the time, Ms. Giroux, 38, thought it would have been nosy to knock on the door. She chalked up the crying to a case of a colicky baby. Now she has regrets.

Autopsy results revealed that Dominic had been dead for several days before the landlord at the building notice a pungent odour seeping from the apartment when he dropped by to collect the rent. (Ms. Fujii rented the apartment in May.)

It is unusual for police to be investigating the suspicious deaths of two babies, Staff Sgt. Rocks said.

"It's always difficult. Homicide is difficult at the best of times, but when it comes to children, infants especially, it has a greater impact on us," he said.

The case has also shocked this city of about 880,000 where there have been only six homicides this year.

Joggers, in-line skaters and workers taking a lunch-time walk along the Bow River yesterday stopped to gaze beyond the yellow police tape that blocked the path to a downtown boat launch.

Copyright 2001 Globe Interactive, a division of Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.