A mother accused of drowning and strangling her three children reportedly starved herself to death in prison to avoid trial.
35-year-old Sonia Blanchette was found dead just hours before she was set to appear in court for the 2012 murder of her three young children. She had been in the hospital since Dec. 19th and allegedly weighed less than 80 pounds at the time of her death. Blanchette, according to the Montreal Gazette, refused to eat during her time in prison, and attempts to force feed her with a feeding tube were unsuccessful.
“Dying of hunger, that isn’t something you do in a few hours,” Elizabeth Fry Society executive director Ruth Gagnon said. Gagnon said that prisons have a legal obligation not to allow inmates to commit suicide. “When someone threatens their life, they must take measures to prevent it.”
Blanchette’s three children primarily lived with their father, but were allowed visits with their mother as long as their grandmother was also present. On the day of the murders, Blanchette’s mother left the house to run an errand. While she was gone, Blanchette strangled and drowned five-year-old Laurélie, her 4-year-old brother Loïc and their two-year-old sister Anaïs.
Blanchette had recently undergone a series of psychiatric evaluations, and was set to begin several pre-trial hearings this week. The trial had been set for October of 2012.
The father of Blanchette’s children, Patrick Desautels, told Radio-Canada on Friday that he felt a small sense of relief that Blanchette had taken her own life.
“I don’t have to go through the trial. It wasn’t going to bring me anything,” he said. “I would have liked her to have spent more time in prison having to think about what she had done. But she decided otherwise.”