Media-related injuries, crimes, deaths in Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia: Brian Allender admitted killing Cheryl Anne Joe in Vancouver in January 1992. He was convicted of first-degree murder after the jury heard he sought out a prostitute after watching the movie Silence of the Lambs, then beat her to death and cut out her sexual organs. (Appeal set in copycat killing, Toronto Sun, October 4, 1996)

Cambridge, Ontario: A 13-year-old boy told police that rap music and watching horror movies that featured Freddy Krueger (the killer from Nightmare on Elm Street) ripping blouses off women caused him to sexually assault his 10-year-old step-sister. (Blamed rap for crime, teen put on probation, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, September 30, 1993)

Pembroke, Ontario: A soldier accused of sexually assaulting his ex-wife was inspired by a violent sex scene in the movie Basic Instinct as related at his trial. ('Basic Instinct' blamed for inspiring sex assault, Guelph Mercury, January 8, 1993)

Flin Flon, Manitoba: Following the broadcast of Murder in the Heartland on ABC and CTV affiliates, James Bridson, 18, abducted 13-year-old Meaghan McConnell, shot her mother and brother dead and seriously injured another daughter, 15-year-old Shannon. The shooting spree mirrored the movie. A Winnipeg psychologist said he couldn't help but see similarities between the Flin Flon incident and the story related in the movie about the crimes of Charles Starkweather. (Manitoba murders mimic show on TV, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, May 8, 1993)

Ottawa, Ontario: A 21-year-old man died after imitating a scene from the movie The Program, in which young men prove their bravery and team spirit by lying in the middle of a busy highway. After similar deaths in the United States, Touchstone Pictures, a Walt Disney subsidiary, cut the highway scene from the film. (Teen imitating movie stunt killed in Ottawa, The Record, April 19, 1994)

Montreal, Quebec: Police blamed The Crow, a violent movie staring Branden Lee for a spate of arson in two area towns. In Joliette, a pair of teens dressed like characters in the movie were arrested and charged with arson after six vehicles were torched in a 12-hour period. "We see a link with The Crow," St.-Hubert Det.Sgt. Yvon Lacasse said. "Since it came out, there seem to have been fires everywhere." (Movie blamed in arson spree, Toronto Sun, November 17, 1994)

Toronto, Ontario: A Crown Attorney in the trial of Paul Bernardo sought to have the book, American Psycho, introduced as evidence, stating that Bernardo had read it as his "bible" and the book had been a blueprint for his crimes. (Life imitates 'art' in Bernardo 'bible', Toronto Sun, September 1, 1995)

LaRonge, Saskatchewan: 14-year-old Sandy Charles murdered a 7-year-old boy. He was fascinated with the horror movie Warlock and its sequel, which he watched 10 times before the child was killed and mutilated. Mutilations done to the child mirrored incidents depicted in the movie. (Case in Saskatoon renews criticisms of TV violence, Globe and Mail, June 20, 1996)

Kyle, Saskatchewan: 18-year-old Leroy Linn received a life sentence for killing Diane McLaren and Sandra Veason in May of 1997. During the trial, Crown prosecutor Glen Herman was able to show that Linn not only boasted about the killings, but proudly dubbed himself a "natural born killer". While testimony suggesting a link to the movie Natural Born Killers was ruled inadmissible, Herman believed Linn was mimicking the behaviour of Woody Harrelson's character from the movie. Linn used a line from NBK when he told an undercover officer "I'm a natural born killer -- what a rush". (Saskatchewan's 'Natural Born Killer', Leader Post, November 7, 1998)

Toronto, Ontario: Raids throughout central Ontario led to the arrest of three men accused of being Rambo-style bandits who did $1 million in robberies. Toronto police hold up squad officers said the gang called themselves "The Crew" and patterned themselves on the Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro film Heat. ('Rambo' heist gang busted: Cops, Toronto Sun, July 23, 1998)

Little Saskatchewan First Nations, Manitoba: 11-year-old boy accidentally hanged himself after telling friends he'd seen it done in the movies. (Boy hanged in 'movie' tragedy, Toronto Sun, October 15, 1999)

Toronto, Ontario: The brother of a 16-year-old boy who planned to set himself on fire outside the United States Consulate, said he may have gotten the idea from television. Police say the teen purchased gas and a lighter on his way to a protest rally and intended to light himself on fire and "be a hero". (TV inspired Kurd rally 'torch' idea: Kin, Toronto Sun, February 22, 1999

Vancouver, British Columbia: What prompted three teenaged girls to don masks, carry a sawed-off shotgun and rob a local 7-Eleven store this week? It may have been the Dixie Chicks. Youth crime expert Raymond Carrado, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, said girls with troubled backgrounds are often influenced by images of toughness increasingly provided in today's movies and the media. RCMP Constable Peter Thiessen said he had never heard of a similar incident involving such young girls in 20 years as a police officer. (Holdup by girls shocks B.C. police, Globe and Mail, January 18, 2001)

Winnipeg, Manitoba: Police believe a 10-year-old boy caught stealing cars may have been playing out the video game, Grand Theft Auto. Police said when he stole cars, he drove with disregard for his or anyone else's safety. (Police "hands are tied" by 10-year-old thief, Toronto Star, April 20, 2001

Vancouver, British Columbia: Drag racing on city streets claimed another teen in the Vancouver region when an 18-year-old lost control of his car while travelling more than a 100 km/hour. Police said they are bracing for an upsurge in street racing, especially after the release of The Fast and the Furious on Friday. Criminologist Ray Corrado of Simon Fraser University said young people mimic what they think is cool. "Those drag scenes in the movies look awesome," he said. "Definitely, some young people will mimic what they see." (Vancouver drag race claims teenage driver's life, Globe and Mail, June 18, 2001)

Toronto, Ontario: A Toronto police officer expressed concern that the street-racing movie, The Fast and The Furious might have inspired a high-speed crash that left two dead and sent five people to hospital. "When a movie like this comes out and it glorifies fast driving and [shows] people [getting] away with it, then I believe that yeah, some people would go out and imitate that type of lifestyle or behaviour," Sergeant Ted Holtzheuser said. (Hot rod movie's popularity fuels fear of imitators, National Post, August 8, 2001)

Winnipeg, Manitoba: A five-year-old boy severely injured his 22-month-old cousin when he performed a violent wrestling move on the child. "The case study does show that imitation of television causing severe injury can and does occur," said Dr. Norman A. Silver of the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg. The case was presented in Toronto to the Canadian Pediatric Society's annual meeting. (Baby's Injury Points to Danger of Kids Imitating TV, Reuters Health, June 26, 2002)

Updated April 14, 2003