Woman who kidnapped toddler in 2006 accused of abducting another
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They said Joanne Merlene Jones was no longer a threat.
Six years after the woman kidnapped a 4-year-old boy from a Toronto shopping mall and sparked a city-wide search, an Ontario Review Board panel decided she no longer required its oversight.
A diagnosed schizophrenic, Jones had been found not criminally responsible in the 2006 kidnapping of Josiah Dejon Madurie. But years later, the independent tribunal agreed she had changed, her hallucinations and “fixation on children” controlled by medication.
“All parties supported a finding that Ms. Jones no longer remains a significant threat to the safety of the public,” reads a finding from the board, an independent tribunal that oversees cases involving mental illness, which ultimately saw Jones discharged in January.
On Tuesday, Jones, 41, was back in court, glassy-eyed and silent as the judge read out a new charge against her: kidnapping.
Just after 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, a woman in a long white coat allegedly walked into Oshawa’s Village Union Public School and lured an 11-year-old boy outside for a walk.
Moments later, the boy broke away and ran back to the school, reporting the incident to teachers.
Jones was later arrested by an officer in the area and charged with kidnapping a child.
Edgar Meikle, a family friend who was babysitting Dejon the day the boy was kidnapped from the Albion Centre mall in 2006, said he was angered to hear of the new charges against Jones.
“My two legs couldn’t move. They got weak . . . it was terrible,” said Meikle of the moment he realized Dejon had been taken.
The boy was found on a subway platform the next day by a TTC worker.
In the current incident, school board officials don’t know how their “highest level of security” — including locked doors, buzzer access and security cameras — was breached.
“I can only speculate that at that time of day . . . it is possible that this person could have walked in when somebody else was walking in,” said Jeannine Joubert, superintendent of education at the Durham District School Board, stressing that the police investigation was ongoing.
Ontario Review Board documents obtained by the Star show Jones had been detained at mental health care facilities across the GTA since her 2006 arrest, including more than a year spent in a minimum-security unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
In 2008, she was transferred to a 24-hour supervised group home in Scarborough. She later moved on to supportive housing units in Oshawa and Whitby. By 2010, she was living independently with her twin sister, who also suffers from schizophrenia.
A neighbour at the Oshawa apartment listed by police as Jones’s residence said she moved into the building in May or June and spoke to no one.
The Ontario Review Board has reviewed Jones’s treatment and detention every year since she was found not criminally responsible. Though the board discharged her in January, some medical professionals had previously issued warnings about her release.
During a 2010 hearing, a psychiatrist treating Jones noted “there is a pattern of difficulties with children or in relation to children” and others agreed she continued to pose a “significant threat” to public safety.
The psychiatrist noted a previous assault on a child-care worker looking after Jones’s son, as well as strange behaviour in a British Columbia nursery. He said he worried Jones’s difficulties with children would return if she stopped taking her medication.
But the review board’s most recent report indicated Jones had experienced no hallucinations in three years, had displayed no violent behaviour since 2006, and required no prompting to take her medication.
“(Jones) knows it is the medication that has assisted her to be well,” a psychiatrist who has treated Jones since July 2011 told the review panel.
Upon her discharge, Jones was given a treatment plan that required her to meet with a nurse and participate in the Integrated Community Access Program, a service provider for people with mental illness connected to the Whitby mental health centre where Jones had previously been treated.
The Star could not reach an official with the community access program by press time.
Multiple calls to the review board that granted Jones a discharge were not returned Tuesday.