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article imageAngry Facebook Users Illegally Leaked the Names of Accused Underage Murderers

By Kyle Pallanik     Jan 5, 2008 in Crime
14 Year Old Stefanie Rengel was tragically murdered on January 1st, becoming Toronto's first homicide victim of the New Year. Many mourn her loss, but angry calls for the accused to be tried as adults has led to their names being made public on Facebook.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act in Canada prevents media from publishing the names of the accused. However, but the names of the accused, a 17 year boy, and a 15 year old girl, have been repeatedly mentioned on Facebook messages and even posted pictures of them, despite efforts by staff and police to remove the posts that contain the information.
At the time of this writing there are three discussion groups dedicated to the memory of Stefanie on Facebook, where hundreds of messages express everything from heartfelt sympathies to her family, personal messages to her spirit and various points of view about the laws that protect the accused.
Police are concerned with the interference with the rule of law and a CBC report quoted Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash as saying that the police "simply have no control" over the actions of users on the Internet. "I think what the events of the last few days have shown is that there are many people who are part of the criminal justice process who have to look and see whether changes are necessary." he said, about the justice system's inability to keep up with the changes in technology and the expressive nature of social networking tools.
Many of the critics of the Youth Criminal Justice Act echoed the opinion that the Stefanie Rengel's murderer(s) should be tried in an adult court in various Facebook posts and opposed the publication bans that would have them keep the identities of the accused to themselves.
The Accused and the Crime
Just after dark on New Year's day Stefanie Rengel was stabbed repeatedly in the stomach on the sidewalk near her home at St. Claire and O'Connor. Just a few metres from her front door, she was left to bleed to death, by her attacker who fled the scene. She was found later by an off-duty police officer and rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Two teens are now in the custody of police after appearing before an Etobicoke court on Thursday. Police say that they were greatly aided by Stefanie's parents and friends.
The oldest, who has just turned 18 on January 5th is accused of first degree murder, abetted by a 15 year old female, also accused of the same felony. The crown, who has said that they will be seeking adult sentences for both teens, indicated in their synopsis that the boy was driven to commit the murder by the jealous girl who wanted Stefanie dead.
The girls lawyer Marshall Sack has fiercely challenged the first degree murder charge, saying that she was not at the scene of the murder. Regarding the accusation that the girl 'ordered' the boy to kill Stefanie, he is reported to have said, “My client is alleged to have indicated at some point in time that she wanted the deceased not to be alive” but she did not “put this young man up to this."
The young man who is accused of stabbing Stefanie to death, is reputed to have had a bad temper, as fellow teen Anthony Kozac explained "We knew him through baseball. And he had fits sometimes, like angry outbursts." Another teen, Casey Brown, said to CityNews reporters that her friend Stefanie had dated the boy, and mentioned that he had trouble controlling his emotions.
Mourning the Loss
On the evening of January 4th, about 400 friends, relatives and well wishers, gathered for a silent candlelight vigil outside the home where Stefanie had lived. Her mother Patricia and stepfather James Hung came outside to meet the gathering from their front porch.
"Thank you so much," an emotional James Hung was quoted as saying. "We don't know what to say. We're overwhelmed."
The people gathered there began to sing 'Amazing Grace' quietly as Adolfo Rengel-Gonzalez, her birth father, stepmother Maureen Rengel and younger brother Ian came outside to join in an embrace.
The vigil had been organized by Scott Patton, the pastor of the Presteign-Woodbine United Church, that Stefanie had attended and spent a lot of time.
"We carry this light with us in the community to show the family we cherish Stefanie's memory," he said. "Even in the midst of this we continue to have hope."
A friend of Stefanie's stepfather, Sgt. Terry Sidora, who works in the police Emergency Task Force unit with him, has established a trust fund, where donations can be made to raise money intended to commemorate Stefanie. Donations can be made to TD Canada Trust, account number 502-004-729-863-22671. “It’s a tragedy clearly that’s touched everyone, and it’s something as friends that we’re trying to do for the family,” he said.
Stefanie's friends continue to share their memories of someone who they describe in many heartfelt ways, including a touching slide show of photos, posted on YouTube.
More about Stefanie rengel, Murder, Facebook