Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Couple's Odyssey ends in Tragedy

An article in the National Post about the Fonteece case does provide a little more information concerning the case.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will only comment on the case after sufficient information exists.

The text of the National Post article by Peter Cheney on February 10, 2009 is as follows:

Husband charged with helping wife commit suicide says they had fallen on hard times

Sudbury was 12 hours behind them when Peter and Yanisa Fonteece limped into Thunder Bay in their 1998 Oldsmobile. They checked into the Super 8 motel and told the desk clerk they had car trouble. But it went far deeper than that. Five days later, Mrs. Fonteece was dead, and her husband was in jail, charged with helping her commit suicide.

According to Mr. Fonteece, they were both unemployed and had decided to leave Ontario behind. Like a Canadian version of The Grapes of Wrath set in the economic meltdown of 2009, they were heading west in search of greener pastures. But it all ended at the Super 8 on the north end of Thunder Bay's Memorial Avenue.

At 6 a.m. last Friday, police say, Mr. Fonteece made a 911 call from the motel. Later that day, he was behind bars. Mr. Fonteece is 46. His wife was 38. Police say they'd been living in Waterloo, Ont., and had fallen on hard times. They were heading for British Columbia.

Exactly what happened to Mrs. Fonteece will be determined by an autopsy. Police can't say whether she was suffering from a serious illness. But according to Thunder Bay police spokesman Chris Adams, investigators who were called to the Super 8 found evidence to support two charges against her husband: criminal negligence causing death and assisted suicide.

"We're still working on what happened," Mr. Adams said. "Obviously, this is a terrible private tragedy."

The couple's background has presented police with a mystery. They arrived in Thunder Bay on Feb. 2. How they spent the four days until the 911 call and the discovery of Mrs. Fonteece's body is unknown, and police have had no luck tracking down any of the couple's relatives.

"We're still trying to piece together information," Mr. Adams said. "This is a highly unusual situation."

Mr. Adams said Thunder Bay is a traditional stopping point for travellers making the trip across Canada. The city is at the head of Lake Superior, and is the only major city in a remote area larger than some countries - Sudbury is about 12 hours to the east, and Winnipeg is about eight hours to the west.

"Thunder Bay is a crossroads," Mr. Adams said. "If you're driving across Canada, you go through here. There's no choice - everything that goes down the road has to pass through Thunder Bay."

Mr. Fonteece made a videotaped appearance in a Thunder Bay courtroom on Saturday. He is scheduled to appear again today. A search of his background yielded few results. A man using the name Peter Fonteece appeared in a 2001 computer forum about the fate of the new Windows XP operating system. A P.B. Fonteece appeared in the transcript of a 1995 Compuserve conference with a member of the rock band Def Leppard. (Mr. Fonteece's middle name is Bernard.)

In 2007, a list of expired Internet domain names included the entry

Lynn Peterson, Thunder Bay's mayor, said the Fonteece case has captured a tremendous amount of local attention. "It's in all the papers," she said. "Everyone's talking about it. Everybody's saddened by it. What else can you say?"

The link to the National Post article:

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