Victoria Times Colonist

Babies starved to death while mom partied

Judy Monchuk
Times Colonist (Victoria)
Friday, June 21, 2002

File / Rie Fujii is shown with her son Domenic Brown.

Keith Morison, Southam Newspapers / The parents of Rie Fujii leave court in Calgary Thursday.

CALGARY -- A woman who left her two babies alone for 10 days so she could enjoy sex and drugs with a new boyfriend returned to her apartment to find they had starved to death, an Alberta court heard Thursday.

The chilling account of the last days of 15-month-old Domenic Brown and his three-month-old sister Gemini came in a statement of facts from a Crown prosecutor after their mother, Rie Fujii, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Fujii had told a friend that a babysitter was looking after the children while she visited the boyfriend in Cochrane, just west of Calgary, in May 2001. She later told a fellow inmate that she left the kids because she wanted to have sex and take drugs with the boyfriend.

"On her return to the apartment, she found both children dead," said prosecutor Pat Yelle.

She put Gemini in a garbage bag and put her in a dumpster, and wrapped Domenic in a blanket.

"The accused would hold Domenic to warm him and see if he would wake up, but she knew he was dead," Yelle said.

She then left the boy's body in the apartment and returned to Cochrane, sticking to the story that a sitter was caring for the kids. Domenic's decomposing body was discovered in the apartment on June 5, 2001, when the landlord came to collect the rent and was overwhelmed by a sickening odour.

Police divers scoured the murky Bow River for days after Fujii told investigators Gemini's body was wrapped in plastic bags and thrown into the water. Her body has never been recovered.

Fujii surrendered to police several days after the discovery of Domenic's emaciated body. She was originally charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Yelle told court that Fujii, a Japanese national who was staying in Canada illegally after her visitor's visa expired, had become overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for two infants.

Two days before Domenic's body was discovered, a friend found Fujii crying and saying that she didn't think she was a very good mom.

Some time before that, Fujii ran into a friend of the babies' father, Peter Brown, at a transit stop. "She told him she hated Peter Brown, she hated her kids and that she wanted them all to die," Yelle said. "She wanted to kill them, she hated her life."

Brown has never attended any of the court proceedings. He was jailed for unrelated petty crimes shortly after Domenic's body was discovered.

Fujii, 24, showed no emotion as her plea was entered in Court of Queen's Bench on Thursday. She did not look at her parents, who travelled from Japan to attend court.

They only learned of their grandchildren's existence after their deaths.

Yelle said Fujii made repeated use of a crisis nursery in Calgary, leaving Dominic there for up to three days at a time and using it again after Gemini was born.

Even before the second child arrived, Fujii turned to women's shelters for a place to stay when Brown became abusive.

Yelle said she lied to shelter counsellors about being a landed immigrant and was afraid to tell them her visa had expired, fearing that she would be sent back to Japan without her child.

Fujii came to Canada in 1997 on a visitor's visa and briefly attended Calgary's Mount Royal College. It is expected that she will face deportation after her legal case is concluded.

© Copyright 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)