Monday, 20 May 2013
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Posted: Apr 29, 2013 2:48 AM EDTUpdated: May 02, 2013 2:13 PM EDT
By Rebecca Thomas - email
CAVE CREEK, AZ (CBS5) -
The situation is heartbreaking.
A 6-day-old baby is dead and her own mother, who has eight other children, is accused of killing her.
Her husband, 36-year-old Nina Koistinen, said she suffers from severe mental illness.
But according to those who know the family, there might have been another contributing factor - the family's religion.
Since Phoenix police arrested Nina Koistinen on Thursday, April 25, several former members of the Phoenix Laestadian Lutheran Church in Cave Creek have come forward with serious concerns about one of its doctrines.
One former Laestadian, who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, said it boils down to brainwashing.
The teaching: if you use birth control - even if it's a life or death situation for a woman - you'll go straight to hell.
"Six-days-old?" he said with deep emotion and disbelief.
Like most people, even those who don't know the family, the former Laestadian is broken up over the April 8 death of 6-day-old Maya Hope Koistinen.
On April 25, Phoenix police said Nina Koistinen told them she smothered the child because she had too many kids and was jealous of the attention her husband gave the infant.
"They're good people," the former Laestadian said between tears. "Nina had a psychotic break."
Her husband, Brad Koistinen, expressed those same concerns to a judge during his wife's initial appearance on April 26.
"Nina suffers from bipolar, and schizophrenia and depression," he said, visibly shaken. "And we have tried for years to manage it."
Brad Koistinen told CBS 5 News his wife has been in and out of mental hospitals during their 15-year marriage.
Yet, they continued to grow their family.
Maya was baby No. 9.
According to the former Laestadian, "Nobody ever said, 'You know what Nina, you should stop having kids, because you can't handle it. And, that's OK. You're still heaven acceptable.'"
Instead, according to this sermon by lay pastor Eric Jurmu from Mother's Day 2012 - around the 17-minute mark - trying to control the number of children you have is a sin.
"There have been these kinds of occasions were the enemy has tempted some with practicing birth control," Jurmu preached during his sermon. "It's not according to God's word - it's not according to the teachings of God's kingdom."
The former Laestadian said it's these kinds of words that shame and scare members into following the doctrine without question, "Somebody who uses birth control is basically giving up their faith, in a sense, and now they're going to hell."
He said the Laestadian church, with roots dating back to 19th century Finland and small in size in the United States, is one you're born into.
"It says 'go forth and multiply' in the Bible," he notes. "I think that's one of the most commonly-cited verses. But that's a pretty creative interpretation of 'go forth and multiply.'"
He described the Laestadian church as a closed culture.
"When you grow up in that environment, and these are your friends, these are your family - you don't really have any good friends outside of that environment," he explained. "That social ostracization - that's a real intense pressure."
He told CBS 5 News he feels if the Koistinens didn't believe they'd betray their religion, by not having more children, Nina Koistinen might not be behind bars facing a charge of first-degree murder.
"I'll tell you this, if she did the crime - if it was a pillow, the church was stitching the threads one thread at a time through her whole life," he said.
CBS 5 News spoke with Jurmu at his home Sunday evening.
He did not want to talk on camera.
But, he told CBS 5 News: "God created Nina with her mental illness. He gave her all the children she could bear. And if she couldn't handle more kids, God would've closed her womb."
Jurmu asked CBS 5 News to email him a list of questions - which we did.
Here are the questions CBS 5 News asked.
- What is the Phoenix Laestadian Lutheran Church's stance on birth control?
- Are there instances where you would encourage a couple to practice birth control?
- If so, what are those conditions and what would be an acceptable form of birth control?
- Have you ever encouraged a couple to use birth control - if so, why and which form?
- What do you tell members of your church about couples who choose to use birth control - and, choose for themselves how many children they want to have?
- In your church culture, how would a woman - who openly used birth control - be treated by the congregation?
- Do you believe women in your church have free will in regards to their childbearing decisions?
- Do you feel it's healthy or a good idea for a severely, mentally ill woman - who is struggling with the current number of children she has - to continue to have more children?
- Obviously, I am referring to Nina Koistinen - a member of your church - but, also anyone else who's struggling with a debilitating form of mental illness.
- According to Phoenix police, Nina has made statements to Child Protective Services in the past about wanting to harm her children.
- Were you aware of this prior to news reports?
- If so, do you feel Nina should have been encouraged to have more children?
- Would you or any member of your church ever consider telling a couple in a similar situation - it's OK to stop having children, if it would benefit the mother's mental or physical health?
- As you know, Nina Koistinen is facing a charge of first-degree murder - after police say she told them she purposely smothered her 6-day-old daughter Maya.
- Please tell me your reaction to this?
- Does the church and it's doctrine, as many former Laestadian's tell me, have "blood on its hands" - if Nina, in fact, did intentionally kill her child?
- Do you feel think this child's death could have been prevented?
- Or, was it - as you referenced during our conversation - 'God's will?'
In an email, he replied, "I was busy this evening with other prior commitments so I wasn't able to respond to your questions. I think there are two distinct topics of discussion, one are the birth control questions, the other is the question of mothers' health. I will consider these questions and get back to you with my response in the next few days. In the meantime, I think it's most important to pray for the family as they struggle and mourn the loss of their child."
The Laestadian Lutheran Church is not affiliated with the Lutheran Church in the United State
Friday, 3 May 2013
'I love them and I'm going to keep them safe': Heartbreaking notes scrawled on walls of home by pregnant woman who 'killed her three children before she fell from multi-storey'
- Fiona Anderson, who is believed to have killed her three children, wants to be buried with them
- Died after falling to her death from multi-storey car park in Suffolk
- Her parents made a plea on television this morning for children's father to fulfill her last wish
By ANNA EDWARDS
PUBLISHED: 15:15 GMT, 3 May 2013 | UPDATED: 18:04 GMT, 3 May 2013
Fiona Anderson fell to her death in April after she allegedly killed her three children
A heavily pregnant woman who is believed to have killed her three children before she fell to her death left messages on the walls of her home asking for them to be buried together.
Fiona Anderson, who suffered fatal head injuries on April 15, had written notes saying that she loved her children and would keep them safe shortly before she died last month.
The parents of the 23-year-old appealed to the father of the children to grant Ms Anderson's last wish.
Officers found her children - Levina, three, Addy, two, and 11-month-old Kyden - dead at their home in Lowestoft, Suffolk.
Ms Anderson's father Michael Anderson said in a pre-recorded interview shown on ITV's Daybreak this morning: 'She'd written that the children were asleep in their bed all together, all tucked up with their bears.
'They were all looking very peaceful and happy together.
'And she also wrote "please bury us together, we want to be together to keep them safe".'
The father of the children, Craig McLelland, reportedly does not want his children to be buried with their mother.
Mr McLelland had recently separated from Ms Anderson, who was depressed at the time of her death, according to neighbours.
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Fiona's parents Kerry and Michael Anderson are urging the children's father Craig McLelland to allow the children to be buried with their mother
The heartbroken mother said she reacted with disbelief when she heard the news of Fiona and her children's deaths
Mr Anderson said: 'We must understand that that was not Fiona, Fiona would never have done anything to hurt her children.
'So that evening, Fiona, whatever happened, she had in her mind that what she was doing was correct.
'She was looking after the children and she wants to be with the children to look after them still. Everybody must understand that.'
Fiona Anderson is thought to have penned messages in green felt tip after she allegedly killed the children and fell to her death
The father of the children, Craig McLelland, reportedly does not want his children to be buried with their mother
After allegedly penning the messages, CCTV images showed eight-months pregnant Ms Anderson walking around Lowestoft holding a teddy bear before she was found
CCTV images showed eight-months pregnant Ms Anderson walking around Lowestoft holding a teddy bear and wearing a white coat shortly before she was found.
Her mother Kerry said Fiona seemed happy when she last saw her.
Mrs Anderson said: 'She adored the children. Everything was the children, they were just everything to her.'
Precious: Levina in school uniform and a smiling Addy enjoying a joke
Family: Father Craig McLellan pictured with his children (left to right) Addy Kyden and Levina. The three were found dead in their mother's flat
Innocent: Addy McLelland was just two. He was found dead at the flat with his brother and sister
The heartbroken mother said she reacted with disbelief when she heard the news, saying: 'Things like that just don't happen.'
Both parents were emotional during their interview, and Mr Anderson said they would be unable to move on from their grief until their daughter is buried.
He said: 'Until we can actually bury our daughter we can't even comprehend going forward.'
Kyden McLelland (left), who was 11-months-old and Levina McLelland, three. It is not known how they died
Happy siblings: Levina, Kyden and Addy in Halloween fancy dress
Speaking on ITV's Daybreak this morning, Mirror columnist Fiona Phillips, who interviewed Michael and Kerry Anderson, said: 'Obviously Craig, the children's father, must be hurting too and Michael and Kerry realise that and the reason they wanted to do this interview is they're appealing to Craig.'
At the time of her tragic death, Fiona's parents and her sisters Claire and Laura Anderson said that 'life was sometimes overwhelming' for her.
In a statement, they said: 'Fiona was a beautiful, intelligent girl and a loving and caring person, but she had suffered from mental illness since she was young and we believe she was driven to her actions yesterday.
Fiona Anderson clutching a teddy bear moments before she fell to her death in Lowestoft
Anderson died from injuries sustained from jumping 40ft from a multi-storey car park
Police have released these CCTV images to help piece together Fiona Anderson's final moments
Deaths: Suffolk Police have confirmed that officers briefly spoke to Fiona Anderson, pictured, hours before the tragedy
Deaths: Police have sealed off this multi-storey car park in Lowestoft today after a woman fell to her death here, which led officers to discover her three children dead at home
This was not our Fiona - she was not herself. She cared passionately about others but often brought stress on herself by caring too much. She was gentle but ended up under too much pressure.
'As a family we were close but she would often push us away, keen to do her own thing and not to listen when we offered support. Life was sometimes overwhelming for her.'
They added: 'She was really popular but just didn't believe she was and had forgotten there were people there that could help her.
'We wish more had been done to recognise her mental health problems.'
The inquest into the deaths of Ms Anderson and her children was adjourned last month.
There has been a huge outpouring of grief in Lowestoft since the tragic events of Monday, and dozens have laid tributes
A tearful Craig McLelland arrives at the home where his three children were found dead on Monday with his mother Mandy who comforted him as he lay a balloon and a toy
Police let the distraught father through their strict cordon as the continue to investigate the suspicious deaths
Distraught: The pair had three children together and are believed to have recently split up
Mr McClelland is comforted by a friend as he surveys the growing mountain of tributes
Investigation: An officer guards the doorway to the flat as forensics scour the rooms inside and messages continue to be left outside
- For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2318984/Fiona-Anderson-Parents-pregnant-woman-killed-children-fell-multi-storey-ask-father-grant-final-wish-bury-them.html#ixzz2SFp2sIed
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Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press FilesA view of the Supreme Court of Canada from Dec. 10, 2012.
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court will rule on Friday in the case of a woman accused of concealing her newborn baby’s body, a decision which some legal experts say could touch on the politically thorny issue of when a fetus becomes a human being under the law.
Although the case of Ivana Levkovic deals specifically with the law around concealing a child’s body, at least one expert says there’s room for the country’s top court to give a judicial opinion on when human life begins.
“Inevitably there is a legal connection to abortion generally, but that is not to suggest the Supreme Court may themselves make that connection,” said Eugene Meehan, a former executive legal officer of the Supreme Court of Canada who is now a partner at Supreme Advocacy LLP in Ottawa, a law firm specializing in Supreme Court matters.
Levkovic was charged with concealing the dead body of a child in 2006 after a building superintendent found the decomposed remains of a baby in her recently-vacated apartment in Mississauga, Ont.
Levkovic went to police and told them that she fell down at home, went into labour, then put the dead body of the baby girl in a plastic bag and left it on the balcony.
She was charged under section 243 of the Criminal Code, which makes it illegal to conceal a child’s body “whether the child died before, during or after birth.”
The trial judge in the case held that the term “child” in its before-birth application was unconstitutionally vague, and struck the word “before” from the section. Pathologists could not determine whether the baby died before, during or after birth, so Levkovic was acquitted.
The Ontario Court of Appeal, however, said the trial judge erred in his ruling. The court ruled section 243 was not void for vagueness, and ordered a new trial. That trial is on hold pending Friday’s ruling.
Meehan said the Supreme Court has the option of dealing with the case on narrow technical grounds, strictly limited to the wording of section 243. But they could also broaden their ruling.
“They could also go wide, and give a judicial opinion on when human life begins. And that would be in the context of is it or is it not a criminal offence to terminate the life of a child in utero,” he said.
Canada doesn’t have an abortion law on the books; the Supreme Court struck the last one down in 1988 in the landmark Morgentaler case.
The defence, which wants Levkovic’s acquittal recognized, argued at the hearing in October that the law is too vague and violates a woman’s privacy rights in relation to pregnancy. Their factum notes there’s no statutory definition of “child” applicable to section 243.
The Crown argued that the law is not too vague. In documents, they say the meaning of a “child” who died “before birth” is fully substantiated through legislative history, judicial interpretation, and otherwise as having a gestational age of at least seven months. The law’s purpose, they argued, is to facilitate the investigation of infant deaths.
“The state’s ability to investigate suspicious infant deaths is essential to the achievement of a goal directed at the protection of the most vulnerable of victims,” they said.
Intervening in the case, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario argued the law criminalizes behaviour that shouldn’t be considered a crime. “The act of having a miscarriage is not illegal,” said lawyer Marie Henein.
The law about concealment dates back to 1893, a time when the legal definition of “child” would have been less contentious and strict anti-abortion laws were in place, experts said.
University of Ottawa Law School associate professor Carissima Mathen, a constitutional law expert, said it would take “mental gymnastics” to turn this case into a discussion about when a child becomes a human being.
“Given the fact that this is a very specific crime about concealment, and not about injuring or harming an unborn child, I wouldn’t expect them to wade into that particular debate,” Mathen said.
But she added that the law on concealment “before birth” can be understood as ancillary legislation to laws that criminalized abortion.
“The concealment applied to a child before birth makes the most sense as a companion crime to an anti-abortion law. When you don’t have an anti-abortion law on the books, it becomes a lot trickier. Why does the state have an interest in knowing?
“In that way, it’s hard to get away from the abortion issue even though if you just strictly look at the law, abortion is not on the table.”