• 02/24/14 - - 15 years after prison slaying, Donald Mongeon goes to prosecutors

    - - 15 years after prison slaying, Donald Mongeon goes to prosecutors

    Ottawa thief was slain in Kingston penitentiary, 50 steps from a guard post -- GARY DIMMOCK, OTTAWA CITIZEN 

     

    Fifteen years after Donald Mongeon was knifed to death in prison, Ontario Provincial Police have turned to prosecutors to see if there’s enough evidence to warrant charges against the men police believe got away with murder.

    Detectives have long had their sights on four suspects, but the investigation has been thwarted by a code of silence among prisoners since the January 1999 killing at Collins Bay Penitentiary in Kingston.

    Mongeon, a small-time Ottawa thief, was six months into a five-year sentence for armed robbery when he was found dead in his locked cell on a Sunday morning. His body lay undetected in a pool of blood for six hours after the 11 p.m. lockup, even though guards said they checked in on him during their overnight rounds.

    His cell was ransacked, its walls spattered in blood and, out on the catwalk, there was a trail of blood leading from its door. The guards reported nothing wrong on their hourly checks. His cell was about 50 steps from a three-man guard post.

    It’s not the first time detectives have gone to prosecutors with the hopes of solving the case, but it is the first time they’ve gone with identified suspects.

    The last time they went to the Crown, it was for a case against the guards as potential accessories to the killing. No criminal charges were filed, and the guards instead were charged internally and suspended for negligence.

    The most recent consultation with the Crown’s office comes after a former prisoner came forward as a witness, hoping to make a deal on fresh drug-trafficking charges.

    When the police told him they couldn’t help him with that, he refused to give a sworn statement. But it wasn’t a total loss: It finally gave detectives an apparent first-hand account of what happened to 27-year-old Mongeon, a one-time Ottawa Citizen cafeteria worker.

    The witness, now 38, is the same man the OPP tried twice to interview in 1999. He refused, as did every other prisoner on the range back then.

    In an interview with the Citizen, the witness provided an account that included the same suspects in the police theory. But his version of their motive is at odds with what detectives had believed. The police theory was drawn almost entirely on physical evidence because prisoners back in 1999 refused to co-operate for fear of being next in line for the morgue.

    Police thought Mongeon was killed for skimming hash he had smuggled into the unit through trailer visits with a girlfriend. Another early police theory had it that Mongeon had failed to have a block of hash smuggled in.

    But according to the witness, Mongeon was the one who was owed money and his killers killed him to wipe out their drug debt.

    “They (two black inmates) came to me before (the killing) and asked if we (Native Brotherhood) would do anything if they went at him,” the witness told the Citizen. “We said no, but I thought they were going to rough him up. I didn’t know they were going to kill him.”

    The witness said he saw two other prisoners enter Mongeon’s cell around 4 p.m. on Jan. 16, 1999, a Saturday afternoon.

    “When I described the weapon, the detective said it matched the autopsy report,” he said.

    Mongeon was stabbed at least 26 times, once in the heart.

    The next morning, when a guard did report something wrong, he reported it as a suicide. When detectives showed up, it took only one look inside the cell to know it was a homicide.

    Mongeon’s parents have been waiting 15 years for the killers to be arrested. They don’t make excuses for their son’s crimes and are the first ones to tell you he was anything but an angel.

    Still, they say, Donald Mongeon could have been anyone’s son and didn’t deserve to die in prison. They both say the guards failed their son, and though they waited 10 years for an inquest with the hopes of a full airing, that would not be the case.

    The coroner who presided over the inquest kept a key police brief secret from the jury. The Citizen obtained a copy of the confidential police brief; in it, detectives theorized guards — who didn’t do their jobs properly — might have been an accessory to the homicide. There is a $50,000 reward for information on the unsolved killing.

     

    gdimmock@ottawacitizen.com

    Donald Mongeon, left, photographed with his father Joe, was stabbed to death in his cell in Collins Bay Penitentiary in 1999.  Photograph by: Chris Mikula, Ottawa Citizen



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