Unsolved Murders | Missing People Canada

Other Topics => Solved Cases => Topic started by: waabzy on September 15, 2008, 07:24:41 AM

Title: PAUL CROUTCH, aged 59- Murdered by military personnel
Post by: waabzy on September 15, 2008, 07:24:41 AM
The real Paul Croutch
'I'm sure i felt sorry for him more than anything else'
MARILYN HOWARD, former wife
Before his brutal death in Moss Park, a bittersweet life
Apr 19, 2008 04:30 AM
Peter Small
Courts Bureau

As Marilyn Howard looks back, there were signs of Paul Croutch's mental illness when they met in the mid-1960s.

He was a brilliant, articulate man, probably the smartest she'd ever known, tremendously funny. But there was still something "waif-like," a bit lost about him.

"I'm sure I felt sorry for him more than anything else," Howard says.

But who could have known that four decades later he would be homeless, beaten to death on a Toronto park bench at age 59? This week three armed forces reservists entered guilty pleas in his death.

When they met, she was 22. He was about the same age, working at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in Malton, where he was a union rep.

By the time they married in 1967, Croutch was an office manager at Cadillac Plastics in Rexdale. Soon, he joined partners to form a plastics fabrication company while she taught elementary school. They bought a house in Bramalea.

But their bubble burst when Croutch had a blow-up with his business partners, who wrote a letter branding him mentally unstable.

"He was just torn right up about it and asked me to make an appointment with a psychiatrist to prove that it wasn't true. But he would never keep that appointment."

Croutch wanted out of Toronto.

They eventually settled in Dawson Creek, population 12,000, in eastern British Columbia.

He found work as a travelling salesman with a Ford dealership. It was an ideal job for him because it gave him lots of time alone.

He drove up the Alaska Highway into the Yukon, filling orders from remote garages.

He would do favours for friends on the road, bringing them boxes of lobster and other goods. He saved them hundreds of miles and hundreds of dollars.

"I believe that's the real Paul Croutch," Howard says.

But the highway was a hard-drinking place.

Howard thinks Croutch's troubles started with an unhappy childhood. At 3 months, he was sent to an aunt in Britain. At 3 years, he was back with his parents in Toronto.

"His only memory of his mother was (her) smashing his father on the head with a cast iron frying pan."

By age 6, he was with a foster family north of Toronto.

In 1977, just before their daughter Shannon was born, Croutch quit the travelling salesman's job to spend more time at home.

He became advertising manager for the Peace River Block News.

He had a gift for selling things and ideas and was very successful. But he quit when new owners cut his commissions, Howard says.

Then he landed a job as financial controller of a farm implements firm. One day, he and business friends were bemoaning the lack of a good local community newspaper. So they founded The Mirror, a free weekly delivered door to door. An excellent writer, Croutch took the helm. They decided to focus on positive news.Anglican Rev. John Robertson remembers Croutch as well-read, well-mannered and generous. "He became passionate about local community affairs."

Croutch pushed Robertson's church to keep their food bank open all day. He went to bat for welfare recipients. But his passion later became too intense, Robertson says.

The newspaper took on a mean tone, Howard says.

Croutch campaigned against "high" wages among staff at city hall, where Howard was a councillor. He printed workers' salaries, prompting union outrage.

Howard was named editor, but never got to write editorials. Croutch abused her verbally, even in front of their employees, she says.

"Every day he would fire me and every day I would say, `Well yeah, sure, I'm half-owner.'"

But they stayed together 17 years. She left him when he shook her by her hair when she wouldn't give him the couch to watch TV.

It was the only time he abused her physically. She poured out the last bottle of wine in their farmhouse, and drove with Shannon to a local women's shelter.

They stayed married for another eight years ? in separate homes, while she still worked at the newspaper ? and came to an amicable parenting arrangement.

When Shannon was 14, she and her dad had a big fight. She was just being a typical teenage jerk, her mother says, but he never spoke to her again.

Croutch's behaviour deteriorated further. He was wildly impulsive. Although his intentions never appeared sexual, he tried to befriend teenage girls and started hanging out in malls.

Howard's not sure when he sold the paper. She had left by then. The last she heard he had gone down the highway to Grande Prairie, Alta.

Years later, she got a call from counsellors at Gateway Shelter in Toronto. Croutch kept insisting he had run a newspaper.

"They finally tracked me down and I said `Everything he told you is right.' They were just shocked."

Ron Farr, a Salvation Army lieutenant, then chaplain at Gateway, said Croutch was confused and fairly paranoid, convinced the government was out to get him.

He didn't like shelters. He thought they were dangerous. He slept outside when he could.

The bench near the Moss Park baseball diamond, where he was killed on Aug. 31, 2005, was a favourite spot.

In the middle of their trial this week, reservists Pte. Brian Deganis, 23, and Cpl. Jeffrey Hall, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Croutch's death. Cpl. Mountaz Ibrahim, 25, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to assault causing bodily harm.

Wendy Babcock, a street outreach worker, recalls first meeting Croutch at a little parkette at Jarvis and Richmond Sts., where he spent his days. "He had bright blue eyes." He was timid, but he slowly opened up, especially when she brought him cigarettes. "He told me about his life, his newspaper, about his family, about the government. He was up on current affairs. He was a very, very intelligent guy."

He often spoke of his daughter, how he missed her. It's unclear whether he knew she was a successful botanist in New York City.

When he was killed, Babcock had to take three weeks off work. "It was all I could think about. I guess I must have really liked him as a friend."

Outrageous but predictable violence
A memorial for Paul Croutch shortly after he was beaten to death in downtown Toronto, Sept. 8, 2005.

May 05, 2008 04:30 AMhttp://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/420921
Nick Falvo

The murder trial of a group of Canadian Forces reservists accused of beating a homeless man to death has grabbed many a headline.

But as disturbing as it has been for most of us to read about the trial, the incident could have been expected.

On Aug. 31, 2005, 59-year-old Paul Croutch was beaten to death in the wee hours of the morning at Moss Park, in downtown Toronto.

On May 1 of this year, two of the young men involved were each given jail sentences for their role in the beating. They had each pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

A third young man was given a lighter sentence after pleading guilty to being an accessory.

All three reservists were also given sentences for assault causing bodily harm for their role in the beating of a woman (also homeless) as she attempted to stop the assault on Croutch.

There was no evidence during the trial that Croutch had ever fought back.

Croutch, a one-time community newspaper publisher, was sleeping in a well-lit area. He was afraid of shelters and found them to be dangerous.

He used garbage bags in an attempt to protect himself from the pouring rain.

Croutch also had been in poor health. He suffered from heart disease, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, emphysema and swelling in the legs.

During the incident, Croutch was kicked and punched in the head, midsection and back.

Before being taken off life-support several hours later at St. Michael's Hospital, he had suffered fractured ribs, a torn spleen and a fatal brain injury.

For those who work with the homeless, the incident was totally predictable.

Homeless people come from all walks of life. Many have been married. Often with children. Often with professional qualifications.

Once homeless ? be it sleeping outdoors or in a shelter ? they suffer chronic health problems. As Dr. Stephen Hwang, a world-renowned epidemiologist at St. Michael's Hospital, once wrote: "Homeless people in their 40s and 50s often develop health disabilities that are commonly seen only in people who are decades older."

The 2007 Street Health Report surveyed a representative sample of 368 homeless adults in Toronto. One-third of respondents reported being homeless for five years or longer, and three-quarters reported having at least one chronic or ongoing physical health condition.

In comparison with the general population, they reported heart disease at five times the normal rate and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (of which emphysema is one form) at 17 times the normal rate.

The report also details their exposure to violence. Thirty-five per cent of respondents reported at least one experience of physical assault in the previous year.

In the April 26, 2000, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hwang published results of a study he had done on homeless men in Toronto. His research found that homeless men are nine times more likely to be murdered than their housed counterparts.

In February of this year, the New York Times reported that violence toward the homeless is "soaring" throughout the United States, with teenagers and young adults being the principal culprits.

In short, for years we have known about a mounting homelessness problem and the health repercussions associated with it. We have also known that homeless people are more likely to be both physically assaulted and murdered than the rest of the population. We even know who does it.

The data are both compelling and well-documented.

We should all be outraged by Paul Croutch's murder, but none of us should be surprised.

Nick Falvo is the author of Gimme Shelter! Homelessness and Canada's Social Housing Crisis. He works at Street Health in Toronto.

Title: Re: PAUL CROUTCH, aged 59- Murdered by military personnel
Post by: Adrian on September 15, 2008, 12:36:20 PM

Wow! Paul Crouch sure looks familiar!!! There appears to be an upswing in the killing of the homeless. I know many who were killed while living out side. Some people, do not like shelters.Some women too.

There are predators, young and old who drive around, and then, swarm a homeless person, killing them. For thrills, for kicks, for nothing....Hardly do they get caught! Also, here, many are beaten for a bottle, or any smokes. Crazy!!!

I have also met many, many homeless with mental health problems, making them even more of a victim.

I have respect for the bottle pickers, and the dumpster divers. I never know , it could be me one day.Living paycheck to paycheck, and rents unbearable, you never know.

R.I.P. Paul Croutch, and many others...