Speaking with the coroner, Feltis learned Bill had been wearing a thin gold chain, which, he noted in his report, may have caused the abrasions. Seeking an explanation for the broken sternum, Feltis asked if there was a sharp corner Bill might have fallen on, and the coroner said yes, the bathroom vanity. The pathologist was never shown the police photos taken at the scene. This was the kind of conclusion the Goudge Inquiry had cautioned against.
There was no evidence to support a heart problem and, as Pollanen would say at trial, acute cardiac arrhythmia is not a cause of death. Bridget did not see the post-mortem report until months later.
When she finally read it, she was floored. It took a few days to confirm what Bridget feared: Merritt had taken off with them. Bridget went to police, but officers would not take action without an updated family court order. Days passed before she could appear before a judge. On April 23, she gained temporary sole custody of the children, which led police to issue an arrest warrant for Merritt. Peel Const. Michael Young led the abduction investigation. Sitting in a police interview room on May 6, , Bridget outlined the family history.
She said the coroner had not yet given a cause of death. Had police investigated further, they would have learned that Merritt and Fattore left Mississauga on April 16 — the same day Bill died. Feltis, the pathologist, did not find out about the abduction until years later. Had he known at the time, he said in an interview, he would have considered it a suspicious circumstance and sent the body downtown. Bridget took her suspicions no further than the allusion to coincidence.
During those months, Merritt and Fattore had taken the children across the country. They settled in Nova Scotia, where Merritt gave birth to her fourth child. In November, Merritt was arrested, charged with child abduction and returned to Ontario in the custody of Peel police. Bridget flew to Halifax and took her grandchildren home to Pitch Pine. Merritt was released on bail with the conditions that she not have unsupervised contact with the children or leave her house without authorization.
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Merritt stayed in the vehicle, parked down the street, while Fattore went to the door. At the same time, Caleb arrived home with the children and saw Merritt in the van. Spooked, Bridget called police. Merritt was arrested and charged with breaching bail. She spent three days in jail. For the second time in a year, an ambulance raced to the Harrison residence and police tape stretched around the house, fluttering in the spring breeze.
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Bridget Harrison's body was found on April 21, , at the bottom of the stairs, just steps away from where her husband died. Bridget was lying face up, arms at her side, head resting on the bottom stair, her green eyes open and vacant. Years later, her family and friends would see photographs of the scene on a courtroom projector and grip their seats or the hands of their companions, holding back tears because emotion in the public gallery is prohibited.
Arriving at the scene, coroner Dr. Her body was sent downtown for the full forensic autopsy that her husband never received. This was a suspicious death. In a case conference two days later, forensic pathologists explained to police that the injuries to the front of her neck, combined with petechial hemorrhaging — a smattering of red dots on the skin and eyes, caused when blood vessels break during a pressure buildup — suggested neck compression, meaning she may have been strangled. But she also had broken bones in the back of her neck, not typically seen in neck compression cases, which supported the fall theory.
Michael Pollanen, the chief forensic pathologist. Pollanen had learned this was the second death in the house and was concerned about the similarities. He told police that Bill had died with several unexplained injuries, including the fractured sternum and throat abrasions.
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Bill had been cremated. According to a Peel police policy directive, all cases of homicide or suspected homicide are to be investigated by the homicide bureau. Police would not say who made that decision and why. From the day Bridget died, the family raised concerns about Merritt and those close to her.
Caleb spoke to Const. Robert Boyer on camera hours after her body was discovered. He became the file co-ordinator. Acting Det. Gregory Amoroso, a year veteran, was the officer in charge. Early on, police homed in on Caleb, who was known to have a difficult relationship with his mother.
Melissa Merritt speaks to police following the death of Bridget Harrison, telling the interviewer that Bridget's son, Caleb, had a troubled relationship with his mother. Boyer retrieved surveillance footage from Sobeys, confirming Fattore had been there, but police failed to corroborate a key element of his story.
Police never spoke to the grandmother. In early May, Amoroso was reassigned to a special command team for the G20 summit in Toronto that summer. Amoroso could not say who, if anyone, became the new officer in charge. Boyer, the junior guy, testified that he had no involvement in the investigation after the end of April, but he would be the one to close the case months later.
Police then presented findings from their own investigation. Who concluded there was no evidence of foul play? His final report explained the findings supporting each theory — strangulation vs. Source: post-mortem report of forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Pickup. Police encouraged them to offer proof.
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On Sept. There were no search warrants sought, Taylor said. No surveillance. No wiretaps. No production orders for cellphone records. No attempts to collect DNA discard. On Aug. He was the last member of the Harrisons to die in the house.
Elizabeth Gallant arrived at Pitch Pine Cres. Now there was no one left. Robert Boyer answered. As word spread, horrified relatives and friends descended upon Pitch Pine.
Finally, the homicide squad took over. Randy Cowan, not involved in the earlier investigations, told reporters police were looking into all three deaths to determine if they were connected. Merritt had access every second weekend. Approaching the summer of , Caleb had agreed to a temporary schedule, where the kids spent every other week with their mother.