National Post

May 22, 2002

Mother of starved child seeks full parole

1995 trial shocked nation: Three-year-old boy found restrained and gagged with sock

The Canadian Press
National Post

KINGSTON, Ont. - Lorelei Turner, whose 1995 manslaughter conviction for starving her son garnered one of Canada's stiffest penalties for child abuse, will seek full parole today.

Turner and her husband, Steven, were sentenced in New Brunswick to 16 years in prison for a litany of neglect and abuse that led to John Ryan Turner's death in 1994.

Turner, 38, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., has been on day parole at an Ontario halfway house since February, 2000. Her parole hearing will be held at Kingston Penitentiary.

During a two-week trial that horrified people across the country, Steven and Lorelei Turner offered no explanation for the scars and scrapes that covered their son's body, nor the bone fractures that were in various states of healing.

The judge in the case accepted that three-year-old John spent his final days in a darkened bedroom on Canadian Forces Base Chatham, N.B., restrained by a harness and gagged with a man's tube sock to muffle his cries.

Neighbours concerned about John testified they believed his mother when she said he was under a doctor's care.

Until the recent conviction of Tony and Marcia Dooley in Toronto for the brutal beating death of seven-year-old Randal Dooley, the Turners' sentence was a landmark.

"At the time, they got the longest sentence in Canadian history for a child manslaughter -- by a lot," said Fred Ferguson, who prosecuted the couple in Miramichi, N.B.

"You can't lock them up forever. It's not as though they're psychopaths or pedophiles who are going to go out and find some other children to abuse. I may be naive in this, but as bad as this was and it's as bad as it gets, my hope is that this is probably a one-time thing with them."

Friends and acquaintances described Lorelei as a doting mother to a daughter born in 1993 -- when John was almost three years old.

The Canadian Press has learned that following the Turners' conviction, the girl was adopted by a New Brunswick couple.

National Parole Board reports obtained by The Canadian Press note that board officials rejected full parole for Lorelei Turner last fall after expressing concern about her plans to continue an unspecified relationship after release from prison.

"The board also notes you have a tendency to adopt a victim stance with respect to your offending," said the October, 2001, report.

The document does not specifically mention her husband, Steven, who was granted full parole in August, 2001, and now lives with his mother while attending college classes. It's not known where, but he was raised in Sudbury, Ont.

The reports note that Lorelei Turner has accepted responsibility for John's death and undergone psychological counselling. She is considered at low risk to reoffend, but has not been allowed to be with a child under 16 without authorization from parole officials.

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