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article imageB.C. man accused of murder - on Facebook

By Arthur Weinreb     Oct 13, 2011 in Crime
Surrey - The life of Garnet Ford, 26, began to spiral downward after he was accused on a social media site of killing 18-year-old Jamie Kehoe in Surrey B.C.
The incident that led up to the accusation made against Ford happened a week ago. Last Friday night, Kehoe was on a bus when two women began fighting. In an attempt to break up the fight, the Good Samaritan intervened. That's when a man is alleged to have pulled out a knife and slashed Kehoe's throat, killing him. The man, described as a thin, black male then fled the scene along with a woman.
Garnet Ford is a thin, black male.
Within two days of Kehoe's tragic death, Ford was named on Facebook as the killer. He told the Vancouver Sun that by Wednesday, he had received more than 15 threats, many of them threatening to kill him.
Ford was quoted as saying, Why me? I'd love to find out. You're ruining my friggin' life - I have an eight-months-pregnant wife at home. I have a four year old son at home.
According to Ford, he did not know Kehoe, had never met Kehoe, and was not in Surrey at the time Kehoe was murdered.
As a result of the social media accusation, Ford was fired from his job as a roofer. He has no money to support himself and his family.
On Tuesday, Ford voluntarily went to the police and met with members of the Integrated Homicide Investigative Team (IHIT) who are investigating Kehoe's death. The day after the interview, the RCMP issued a media release advising the public that Ford is not a suspect in the murder.
Besides confirming that Ford is not nor has ever been a suspect in the case, the police cautioned the public that uttering threats to do bodily harm or cause death is a criminal offence. Although sympathetic to Ford, the police seemed more concerned about how the Facebook posting might negatively impact their investigation. Sgt. Jennifer Pound, said, To call someone a murderer without the evidence to support it poses problems for investigators and the innocent people being blamed. The public need to focus on letting the police lead the investigation by facts and bringing those responsible for this tragic death to justice.
Jay Kehoe, Jaime's father, told Postmedia News that he didn't want vigiliantes. The grieving father said, I am sorry that this guy [Ford] was named. I don't think anyone should be harassing this guy.
At this time it is not clear why Ford was named on Facebook as Kehoe's killer. It could be that someone had a grudge against him or it could simply be that the poster genuinely believes Ford killed the 18-year-old because he fits the vague general description of the person wanted in the murder. If the latter is true, it calls into question the police practice of encouraging the public to use social media to help them solve crimes.
Last June, the Vancouver police and the RCMP made extensive use of social media to help them identify those who took part in the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver. The Vancouver PD thanked the public for providing evidence to them by way of social media sites such as Facebook. Of course posting pictures taken in public is one thing; deciding someone is guilty of murder and telling the world on a social media site is quite another.
Police are seeking a black man in his early 20s, with short curly hair. He is between six feet and six feet, two inches tall and has a thin build. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Integrated Homicide Investigative Team at 1-877-551-IHIT or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
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