National Post

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June 9, 2001

'I wanted you to know ... how stressed I am'

Calgary mother charged: Diary reveals events leading to two children's deaths

Robert Remington
National Post


Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press
A diver scours the murky waters of the fast-flowing Bow River in Calgary, searching for the body of a missing baby girl whose brother apparently died alone in an empty apartment.

CALGARY - A portrait of a stressed single mother unable to cope with the demands of raising two small children emerged yesterday in the case of Rei Fujii, charged with failing to bury the body of her 15-month-old son.

Ms. Fujii will appear in court Monday and could face other charges, say police, who continued to search the Bow River yesterday for the body of Ms. Fujii's three-month-old daughter.

The decomposing body of Ms. Fujii's 15-month-old son was found Tuesday in her vacated apartment that was empty except for a few toys and a playpen.

The body of her infant daughter was set adrift in the Bow River in garbage bags, according to information received by police after a distraught Ms. Fujii turned herself in Wednesday night.

A diary kept by Ms. Fujii, 23, depicted a young mother overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising Gemini, three months, and Domenic, 15 months.

"People think it's easy to just stay at home and look after baby, but why don't you tell me that you can get up in the middle of the night or early morning to feed baby or play and watch them all day listening them crying, You know what, it is hard!!!," says the diary, obtained by the Calgary Sun.

In one entry, written to the children's father, Peter Brown, Ms. Fujii says: "Peter. I just wanted you to know how hard looking after Dom is. I understand that your job is hard too. It is probably different level of "Hard." I don't work outside, and I never have, but it doesn't mean that I don't have a job. I have a job called being a mom which has no day offs and no pay checks. I'm not saying that you don't help me. I know you've helped looking after Dom. I also know you cared about Dom. I wanted you to know how I feel and how stressed out I am."

In another entry she writes: "I hate my stupid living. I've decided to live like I used to."

And in another: "I've been trying my best for seven months, but I didn't know anything about baby. I'm still trying to be a good mom. It's really hard for me to do all the things at the same time, looking after baby, worried about rent, worrying about buying stuff for the house and the baby, and buying groceries.

"It pisses me off every time I think about that I have to put up with in life. I get stressed out, looking after baby, paying the rent, buying everything, it's way too much."

In a city brimming with agencies for single parents and immigrants, police and child welfare experts called the situation a tragedy.

"This is a community rich in resources but people need to be put in touch with those resources," said Linda Anderson, child abuse service co-ordinator at Alberta Children's Hospital. "To have this as the end result, it's very sad."

Ms. Fujii arrived in Calgary from Japan in 1997 on a student visa and briefly attended Mount Royal College learning English. Her student visa expired in August, 1999, and was never renewed. She moved frequently and never registered with the Japanese consulate as required for Japanese citizens living in Canada longer than three months.

She had two children with Mr. Brown, a Calgarian, who was not living with her. The two frequented a bikini bar, where management said they knew little about the couple.

Domenic's body was discovered after a landlord noticed an odour coming from the apartment. Neighbours said they heard screaming and crying for days but never reported it to authorities, thinking it was a case of a colicky child.

Anyone with direct knowledge of a child who is abused or malnourished is required by law to report it, Insp. Blake McWilliam of the Calgary police department said yesterday.

He said a crying child would not in itself be sufficient to warrant charges.

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