This is part of my ongoing series on Canadian Mass Murders.
This lengthy report is broken down into the following sections:
- 2-Minute Overview
- Killer Granted Unsupervised Community Outings
- Son of God? The Illuminati? Vampires and Werewolves?
- Joint Statement of Families as Trial Gets Underway
- Not Criminally Responsible, Justice Eric Macklin Rules
- Statement from Families After Not Criminally Responsible Decision
- Timeline of Events the Night of the Murders
- Killer’s Father, Douglas de Grood, Delivers Statement to Press Two Days After Murders
On April 14, 2014, 22-year old Matthew de Grood went on a stabbing spree the left five young people dead at a house party in the upscale neighbourhood of Brentwood in Calgary, Alberta. It was the largest mass murder in Calgary’s history.
All five victims were described as “good kids” – young and talented and completely innocent.
- Zackariah Rathwell and Josh Hunter were friends and bandmates who had released a new album at a sold-out gig just two nights before they were murdered.
- Kaitlin Perras was a gifted ballet dancer, beautiful and vibrant.
- Lawrence Hong, originally from the Philippines, was an urban studies student and—like his alleged killer—a committed volunteer.
- Jordan Segura was pursuing a degree in religious studies and a career, ironically enough, in the funeral business.
After his arrest, Matthew de Grood was held at a secure psychiatric facility adjacent to the Calgary Remand Centre.
De Grood, son of respected veteran Calgary Police Service Inspector Douglas de Grood, underwent a psychiatric review to determine if he was fit to stand trial.
Two days after news broke that their son was the worst mass murderer in Calgary’s history, Douglas and Susan de Grood faced the news cameras and Douglas spoke to the families of the young people his son murdered. (Read Douglas de Grood’s complete statement at the end of this document.)
“We hope someday we will have answers as to why this happened. Regardless, it won’t bring the victims back, but we would give anything to do just that.”
On May 22, 2015, that review found de Grood was competent because he understood the charges against him and was able to communicate rationally with his lawyer.
His trial was set to begin on May 29, 2016, but on May 25th de Grood was found not criminally responsible for the murders by reason of mental disorder.
Killer Granted Unsupervised Community Outings
Dr. Santoch Rai told the Alberta Review Board that Matthew de Grood’s risk of re-offending was low, but that if he did commit another crime, it would be “high severity.”
Rai said de Grood knows that he needs to take his medication and suggested de Grood should be allowed unsupervised trips to supervised places in Edmonton, as well as be eased into living in a group home.
On October 1, 2019, the Alberta Review Board released their September 17th decision to grant Matthew de Grood unsupervised release into the community, despite the significant threat he still poses to public safety.
Gregg Perras, father of murder victim Kaitlin Perras, was disgusted at the news.
“At each review, we are always unpleasantly surprised by the latest ‘improvements’ in his mental state and the subsequent ‘privileges’ he will receive,” he wrote in an email to Global News.
“It seems ridiculous that someone who killed five people could be enjoying time outside the hospital only with a ‘responsible’ adult after only three years of being determined (not criminally responsible).”
Barclay Hunter, father of murder victim Josh Hunter, said the news is hard to fathom.
“It’s hard for the average person to wrap their head around. Why this is acceptable and why this would happen … I think he needs to be treated fairly and humanely and treated for his illness. But you know our goal is to see that people that cross that threshold in severe cases like this are not ever considered for absolute discharge.”
On October 3, 2019, Alberta Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer posted the following message on Twitter.
“I’ve heard from many Albertans who are frustrated & disturbed by this decision.
“I’ll be formally requesting that Alberta’s Review Board ensure a maximum possible role for victims to be part of the hearing process & advocating that Ottawa conduct a review of standards of release.
“I’ve also instructed my department to examine any & all other options around the review board process to respect victims.
“My thoughts are continually with the families & friends of Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Jordan Segura, Lawrence Hong, and Zackariah Rathwell.”
Son of God? The Illuminati? Vampires and Werewolves?
Two psychiatrists said Matthew de Grood experienced psychotic delusions during the timespan when he stabbed five young university students to death. They said he believed a war to end the world was about to begin.
“This war would’ve included fighting with werewolves and vampires,” Dr. Alberto Choy said. “He believed Zackariah was about to attack him and Zackariah … was a werewolf at the time. He believed those other individuals were also … supposed to attack him.”
Dr. Lenka Zedkova testified Matthew de Grood believed an end-of-the-world war was being waged, and he needed to stop it.
“He started believing that they were going to kill him because he was the son of God,” Dr. Zedkova said.
“Mr. de Grood also told me at some point he heard a male demonic voice, which he attributed to the sun god, telling him ‘kill them all before they kill you,’ and to him it marked the beginning of the war.”
“He believed that all these individuals were the Illuminati and they were about to kill him, and they were possessed by the moon god.”
Dr. Zedkova said, in her opinion, de Grood likely suffered from schizophrenia when he attacked his victims and was therefore not in touch with reality. While suffering from a mental disorder like as schizophrenia, de Grood would not be able to perceive things correctly.
Dr. Andrew Haag disagreed with his two colleagues, but only to a degree. See R. v. de Grood, 2016 ABQB 294.
“Mr. De Grood certainly did know and could foresee the physical consequences of his actions. He clearly knew that people would be seriously harmed by his actions and indicated that he tried to kill his victims quickly and humanely. However, it is Dr. Haag’s opinion that Mr. De Grood did not know that his actions were morally wrong at the time. He indicated to Dr. Haag that he had to kill his victims and saw his actions as a ‘kill or be killed situation.’ In his mind, Mr. de Grood was acting in self-defence at the time.”
Joint Statement of Families as Trial Gets Underway
On March 16, 2016, the families of the slain young people issued a joint statement.
We speak to you collectively as one voice, as a group of family members who have lost our wonderful children and siblings far too soon.
We are giving a written statement at this time and are not planning to field any questions today. We will likely provide a statement at the end of the trial and may be available for questions at that time.
We are here to represent the voices of the victims…our loved ones who had their futures taken away and cannot represent themselves…and we are also here to support one another in our profound loss.
Please understand that the last two years have been extremely difficult … incredibly long and anxiety ridden for us as parents, as family members, and for our children’s friends, who also lost so much that terrible night.
It is immeasurable to comprehend the anguish and sorrow we have experienced over the last two years. Only those who have experienced significant loss can relate.
All five families are so thankful and so grateful for the overwhelming support that we have received from our extended families, from friends and from the greater Calgary community. We will continue to need that love and support now and in the future.
The grieving and the memories never end for any of us. There is no such thing as a “new normal” that some people talk about. There is only existing… surviving… and a series of bittersweet events going forward in our families lives such as graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. These milestones will be happy and sad at the same time.
A series of tributes to our children will be presented in court and on TV over the next several days to reflect their short, but meaningful lives and put the focus where it should be… on the family that was taken from us: Lawrence, Josh, Kaiti, Zack and Jordan. (The accused always gets too much focus when a trial occurs.)
We are well aware of the important role that the media plays on a daily basis in informing the public of the truths and details about a trial. However, please respect our wishes for privacy during this incredibly stressful time. We will come to you if we wish to comment.
The priority for us during this trial is to ensure that our loved ones will be given the fair and just attention that they deserve. All we ask is that you remember how they lived – full of purpose, full of life, full of goodness and love for their friends and families. Their deaths and this tragedy do not define them.
Thank you for your time and attention. We have nothing more to add at this time.
Not Criminally Responsible, Justice Macklin Rules
On May 25, 2016, Justice Eric F. Macklin ruled Matthew de Grood was not criminally responsible for the murders.
It has been established beyond a reasonable doubt that, in the early morning of April 15, 2014, Matthew Douglas de Grood caused the deaths of five young people: Joshua Barclay Hunter, Zackariah James Rathwell, Kaitlan Ashley Perras, Jordan Gabriel Segura and Lawrence Martin Hong.
I find on a balance of probabilities that at the time he caused their deaths, Matthew de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder that rendered him incapable of appreciating or knowing that his actions were wrong.
Therefore, and in accordance with s. 672.34 of the Criminal Code, I find that Matthew Douglas de Grood committed the acts that resulted in the deaths of these five individuals but he is not criminally responsible for those deaths on account of mental disorder.
Statement From Families After Not Criminally Responsible Decision
On May, 25, 2016, the families of the murdered university students issued a joint statement.
Now that the trial for Matthew de Grood has concluded, the families of Jordan Segura, Zackariah Rathwell, Kaiti Perras, Joshua Hunter and Lawrence Hong would like to make a short statement.
First of all, we would like to express our immense gratitude to Justice Macklin for allowing the five tributes to our wonderful loved ones within the court. Our goal at the beginning of the trial was that the spotlight be put on those we lost; that continues to be our goal now and into the future.
We ask that everyone remember the names:
- Zackariah Rathwell
- Jordan Segura
- Kaiti Perras
- Lawrence Hong
- Josh Hunter
We can all cherish their legacy by reminiscing moments together, living out their values and supporting others through the scholarships and foundations created in their memory.
Those are the individuals who should be remembered. Those are the lives that were lost, and no matter what: Kaiti, Jordan, Josh, Zack and Lawrence are still gone and our families will never be whole again.
The end of this trial is not the end of this journey for us, we continue to be broken.
The finding of NCR (not criminally responsible) will be a recurring nightmare for our families.
In this system Matthew de Grood will meet with a Mental Health Review Board every year to determine if he will be granted concessions.
There will be no peace for us; our wounds never fully heal because every year our families will have to wonder, what will be the fate of the man who damaged so many lives.
Every year we will be forced to relive details of our family’s deaths, the anguish and sorrow.
We ask that fellow Canadians become informed about the justice system, the designation “Not Criminally Responsible” and its implications.
A possible reprieve for our families is the designation of a High Risk NCR, a new law that among other changes would allow a review board to decide to assess an extremely dangerous offender every three years.
The five families would support the prosecution in seeking the designation of High Risk NCR, which would give gravitas to the fact Matthew de Grood killed five people and support the system in ensuring that he is not a threat to the public.
Every year that Matthew de Grood is reviewed we hope that our community will value the lives of Josh, Zack, Jordan, Kaiti and Lawrence and do what they can to support the five lives that de Grood ended.
A lot of discussion around these murders and trial are painful to think about and at times get away from the core of it. That five lives were taken away and countless others devastated by the actions of one person.
Unfortunately, no matter what the outcome is, or could have been, our loved ones Lawrence, Zack, Josh, Jordan and Kaiti are gone – and there is no changing that.
Those five young bright people will only smile in our memories, we can only hug them in our dreams, and every moment good or bad will be spent wishing they could share it with us. Their lives, our lives, their friends and the futures for all of us affected are forever changed.
Thank you for your attention.
Timeline of Events the Night of the Murders
This timeline of events comes directly from the court decision R. v. de Grood, 2016 ABQB 294.
On Monday, April 14, 2014, Matthew de Grood was scheduled to work a shift at Safeway between 2:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. He received a text that day from his childhood friend, Brendan McCabe, inviting him to a Bermuda Shorts Day party, an annual celebration of the last day of winter semester classes at the University of Calgary. The party was being held at 11 Butler Crescent in Calgary. Mr. McCabe lived in the house with four roommates: Sarah Kapiczowski, Teri Lewis, Michael “Joe” Regnault and Jordan Segura. The five roommates were all in their 20s and were either U of C students or starting their careers.
Mr. de Grood took the C-Train from Crowfoot station to Brentwood station. At 9 p.m., Mr. McCabe met Mr. de Grood at a Co-op gas station near Brentwood station as Mr. de Grood said he could not remember how to get to the house. He was still wearing his work uniform.
Approximately 25 to 35 people attended the party over the course of the night. Mr. de Grood was not observed to consume any alcohol or drugs over the course of the night. There were no confrontations between anyone at the party and Mr. de Grood, and he had no enemies at the party. The atmosphere of the party has been described as “laid back and relaxed” and everyone was in a good mood.
Just before 1:00 a.m. on April 15, 2014, Mr. McCabe, Mr. Regnault, Ms. Kapiczowski and Jayda Shreenan went to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant to pick up food. Ms. Kapiczowski drove them in her car. At the time, Ryle Lindenaar and Elizabeth Stockmal were sitting in Mr. Lindanaar’s car parked across the street from the house and Laura York went out to the car to join them.
Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlan Perras, Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Teri Lewis and Matthew de Grood all remained in the house.
Mr. Hong was lying down and sleeping on a couch in the living room. Mr. Hunter, Ms. Perras and Mr. Segura were seated on a second couch facing the other. Mr. Rathwell and Mr. de Grood were in the kitchen. Ms. Lewis was lying in her bed in her upstairs bedroom, trying to fall asleep. There was no one else in the house.
Mr. de Grood picked up a chef’s knife from a knife block on an open shelf in the kitchen. The knife had a black handle with a single cutting edged, non-serrated blade that tapers into a sharp tip. The blade measured 21 centimeters in length by 4.6 centimeters in width at the widest point and had a thickness of 3 millimeters.
Using the knife, Mr. de Grood stabbed Mr. Rathwell seven times, Mr. Hunter six times, Mr. Segura once, Ms. Perras four times and Mr. Hong four times.
The stabbings occurred quickly and unexpectedly. The five victims had little, if any, opportunity to react. Mr. Rathwell was stabbed in the kitchen. Mr. Hunter and Mr. Segura were stabbed on or near the couch on which they were sitting and Ms. Perras was stabbed in the dining room as she tried to escape. Mr. Hong was asleep on the couch when he was stabbed.
After being stabbed, Mr. Hunter ran out the front door of the house just as the four individuals were returning from the McDonald’ restaurant. As they walked from the driveway towards the house, they heard Ms. Perras screaming inside the house and saw Mr. Hunter running out the door and across the front lawn. Mr. de Grood was chasing Mr. Hunter and held the knife in his hand.
Mr. de Grood chased Mr. Hunter southbound down Butler Crescent. Mr. McCabe ran after Mr. de Grood and caught up to him about 150 meters from the house. Mr. de Grood was holding the knife above his head with the blade pointed downward.
Mr. McCabe grabbed Mr. de Grood’s hand that was holding the knife and told him to give him the knife and to calm down. Mr. de Grood lowered his hand and released the knife to Mr. McCabe, which Mr. McCabe grabbed. The knife and Mr. de Grood’s gloved hands had blood on them.
Mr. Hunter returned to the house and collapsed on the front lawn.
Mr. de Grood told Mr. McCabe that it was “the night of the long knives” and took off running southbound towards Brentwood Boulevard. Mr. McCabe threw the knife onto the roadway and chased after Mr. de Grood, catching up to him after about 200 meters. Mr. McCabe grabbed Mr. de Grood and told him to calm down and come back to the house. Mr. de Grood pulled away and Mr. McCabe pushed Mr. de Grood up against a parked vehicle.
Mr. de Grood wiped his bloody hands on Mr. McCabe’s hands. He said that they were “blood brothers” and wanted Mr. McCabe to come with him. He then told Mr. McCabe not to get in his way, or he would be next. Mr. McCabe noticed that Mr. de Grood had his hand in his pocket, and he was worried that Mr. de Grood might still have a box-cutter with him, which had been noticed earlier in Mr. de Grood’s work uniform.
Mr. McCabe let Mr. de Grood go, and Mr. de Grood ran eastbound on Brentwood Boulevard. Mr. McCabe ran back to the house.
Ms. Lewis, who had been in her upstairs bedroom at the time of the stabbings, had heard a male voice yelling words to the effect of “it’s okay, it’s cool — dude, calm down” and phoned 911. Ms. Lewis went downstairs to find Mr. Rathwell, Mr. Segura, Ms. Perras and Mr. Hong injured. Mr. McCabe, who had already chased Mr. de Grood down the street, told Ms. Lewis that the perpetrator was Mr. de Grood. Ms. Lewis provided Mr. de Grood’s name to the 911 operator.
Ms. Lewis, Ms. Shreenan, Ms. Kapiczowski and Mr. McCabe provided first aid to the victims inside the house. Mr. Regnault provided first aid to Mr. Hunter on the front lawn. Ms. Shreenan and Mr. Regnault also phoned 911. Mr. Regnault provided a description of Mr. de Grood to the 911 operator.
Between 1:21 a.m. and 1:23 a.m. on April 15, 2014, police received three separate 911 calls about a stabbing incident at the house and at 1:26 a.m., the first members of Calgary Police Service arrived on scene.
At 1:34 a.m., Emergency Medical Services confirmed that Mr. Rathwell, Mr. Segura and Mr. Hong were deceased.
At 1:39 a.m., Ms. Perras was transported from the scene to the Foothills Hospital where she was pronounced deceased at 3:00 a.m.
At 1:44 a.m., Mr. Hunter was transported from the scene to the Foothills Hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 2:17 a.m.
Killer’s Father, Douglas de Grood, Delivers Statement to Press Two Days After Murders
Two days after their son committed Calgary’s worst mass murder in history, Douglas and Susan de Grood bravely faced news cameras and Douglas delivered the following statement.
“I am Douglas de Grood and I am an inspector with the Calgary Police Service, but I am here today not as a police officer, but as a parent and a husband. I speak for my wife, Susan de Grood, as we are one voice.
“We are shocked and devastated and we are trying to make sense of what happened.
“We are deeply saddened for what the families and friends of the victims are going through. Your lives have been turned upside down. We know words cannot begin to ease your pain and suffering. Please accept our deepest condolences and know you are in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers.
“Our condolences also go out to the first responders who attended the scene. You had to detach from your emotions to do your job. Your professionalism was exceptional.
“Like any parent can tell you, a love for your child is unconditional and we love Matthew dearly.
“Our Matthew is a great kid, full of love, kindness and respect for others. Growing up, he received good grades in school and was active in a variety of sports. As a young adult, he got a part-time job, entered university and became more involved in the community. He raised funds for charities through his passion for running. He had a bright future ahead of him as he was about to start law school in the fall.
“Just like you, we struggle to understand what happened. We have received an outpouring of support from our extended families, our friends and neighbours, co-workers and even people we have never met. We thank each one of you for your support. We will never recover from this, but the collective support has helped ease some of the pain.
“We hope someday we will have answers as to why this happened. Regardless, it won’t bring the victims back, but we would give anything to do just that.
“Our final words are to you, the media. We ask that you respect our family’s privacy as we deal with this tragedy.
“Thank you for your co-operation.”
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