This is part of my ongoing series on Canadian Mass Murders.
On Sunday, March 5, 2006, John LaFleche got really, really drunk, fought with his estranged wife Wendy, then grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and bludgeoned her to death. Then, fearing his children would grow up in abusive foster care like he did, LaFleche beat 7-year-old Victoria and 3-year-old Jesse to death as they lay sleeping in their beds.
Devon Brisborne, Wendy LaFleche’s 16-year-old son from a previous marriage, was the lone survivor. He was not home at the time of his step-father’s murderous rampage.
Immediately after killing his wife and two youngest children, John LaFleche sped away from the murder scene. He would later claim he was going to kill himself by driving his car off a bridge.
As he fled from the scene, LaFleche dialed 911 on his cell phone to alert police to the multiple homicide.
“You’ll only get this once … do you hear me? 15407 Yonge Street, Aurora … you got a three-year-old dead boy, you have a seven-year-old dead girl and you have a 41-year-old dead woman … Bye.”
York Regional Police arrived at Wendy LaFleche’s home and found three dead bodies, just as the 911 call said.
The pursued LaFleche and attempted to block off the killer’s escape route with spike belts and roadblocks. After a high-speed chase along Highway 40 north of Toronto, police finally stopped his vehicle, arrested John LaFleche and charged him with three counts of first degree murder.
Lengthy Criminal Record
John LaFleche has a long criminal record and spent roughly 13 years in prison for crimes ranging from break and enter and robbery to weapons possession, according to The Toronto Star.
I could not find any of his convictions on Canlii.org, nor could I find any record of a Firearm Prohibition Order against John LaFleche, which is standard procedure in sentencing criminals for weapons offences.
Drunken Jealous Rage
John LaFleche was an alcoholic who refused to deal with his substance abuse. His drinking, combined with his ongoing psychological abuse of his wife, are the primary reasons Wendy LaFleche asked him to leave the family home months prior.
The Aurora Banner delivered an excellent overview of the events leading up to the multiple murders.
He drank 24 beers in 24 hours as he passed the time and tried to keep himself awake for a night shift the following day where he worked as a garbage truck driver, the court heard.
His heavy drinking forced him to make several trips to the bathroom next to Ms Lafleche’s bedroom.
During one trip, shortly after she arrived home at 2 a.m., he overheard her having a sexually explicit phone conversation with a man she met online.
Before leaving, shortly after 5 a.m., he went upstairs to Ms Lafleche’s bedroom to confront her about the telephone conversation he overheard a few hours earlier.
The argument quickly became heated and Mr. Lafleche smashed his wife’s head and upper torso with a baseball bat until she stopped moving, the court was told.
Next, he entered his children’s rooms and beat them with the same bat, even stopping to check their pulses.
“I wish there was an excuse for it. If it wasn’t for the alcohol, it wouldn’t have happened. There was no plan for what I did. I can’t explain why it happened, but it happened.”
Alcohol is no more responsible John LaFleche’s heinous actions than a gun is responsible for Gamil Gharbi’s heinous 1989 murders of 14 female engineers at École Polytechnique.
Both men are responsible for their repugnant acts – not beer, not baseball bats and not guns.
Like Gamil Gharbi before him, John LaFleche is 100% responsible for his actions that fateful March day.
Blaming alcohol, saying It’s not my fault, is the sniveling whine of every person who refuses to take responsibility for their actions.
- John LaFleche chose to get drunk.
- John LaFleche chose to pick up an aluminum baseball bat and beat his estranged wife to death with it.
- John LaFleche chose to brutally end his own children’s lives.
John LaFleche alone is responsible for their deaths. Beer is just his convenient scapegoat, and banning alcohol will not stop people like LaFleche from committing similar heinous crimes in the future.
The cold, hard and brutal reality is John LaFleche refused to deal with his mental issues, his own traumatic childhood and the psychological abuse heaped on him by a string of foster parents.
His repeated failure to man up and deal with these issues cost three innocent people their lives.
Life In Prison
On Friday, January 11, 2008, after pleading guilty to murdering his family, Justice Michael Brown sentenced John LaFleche to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 19 years.
In the meantime, the rest of Wendy’s family is left to bear the hole in their hearts left by a selfish and jealous alcoholic.
Those are scars that never heal.