Annette Toro is raising questions about the RCMP investigations into the deaths of her two teenaged sons, who police concluded had committed suicide.
Warning: Contents of this story could be disturbing to some readers.
A mother is taking the RCMP to court after raising questions about the police investigations into the deaths of her two teenage sons.
Annette Toro says in her court petition that on April 10, 2015, her son Dillon, who was then 13 years old and had recently moved to Kelowna to live with his father, was found dead in the man’s home.
The boy was found in his bedroom with a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The weapon belonged to his father and was a restricted firearm, says the court document.
The RCMP investigated the case and classified Dillon’s death as a suicide, it says.
Two years later, on April 20, 2017, Toro’s son Payton, who was then 18 years old, was found dead just outside the father’s residence. He had been visiting his father at the time.
Payton also suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The weapon belonged to the father and was a restricted firearm, say the petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
The second teen’s death was also classified as a suicide following an RCMP investigation, it says.
Toro hired Glen Orris, a prominent criminal defence lawyer, to assist her in making inquiries into the case.
After making a request for information on the cases, the RCMP released a synopsis into Dillon’s death that Orris says raises questions about whether it was a suicide.
In a letter to the RCMP dated Dec. 5, 2017, Orris noted that Dillon was found on his back beside his bed.
“This seems to be an unusual position for the deceased to be in if the wounds were to the back of his head,” said Orris.
The Vancouver lawyer also noted that a shotgun was found on the floor by Dillon’s legs.
“If the shotgun had somehow been used to commit suicide (from the back), it seems to me it would be unusual to find the shotgun on the floor by his legs.”
An empty shell case was found on the floor by police as well, said Orris in the letter.
“My experience with shotguns is that a pump-action shotgun requires a pump action to release the empty shell casing after the gun is fired,” he said. “That is inconsistent with suicide.”
Orris said he assumes that all of the points were investigated and resolved but were omitted by the RCMP synopsis, so a “complete police investigation” file is required for the mother to be satisfied about the conclusions.
“This ‘synopsis’ does not support the conclusion of suicide because of the unanswered questions posed above.”
The petition claims that there have been unreasonable delays in the RCMP responding to the mother’s requests for information.
“The delay in these circumstances is unacceptable and fiercely prejudicial to Ms. Toro,” says one of the court documents.
An online obituary of Dillon described him as a “beautiful, witty, intelligent and talented boy with wisdom beyond his years. He had many passions and interests: he loved reading, basketball, wake boarding and vacationing with family and friends.”
An obituary of Payton spoke of him as a “charismatic young man with a gentle soul, whose infectious laugh could be heard after one of his many pranks. We will miss him forever and will continue to keep him in our hearts.”
Thomas Budd, the father of the boys and a financial advisor and philanthropist, has spoken out a number of times on the traumatic impact of his sons’ deaths.
“The trauma that I’m dealing with, basically unthinkable, but I’ve lost both of my children to suicide,” he said in one emotional videotaped statement posted online.
No response has been filed to the petition. The RCMP said in an email that they had received access to information requests in March which were complied with in the prescribed period.
“On April 17, the RCMP were notified of the petition filed in Supreme Court and have engaged the Department of Justice on this matter. We cannot speak publicly to this matter any further.”