I wish victim statements were not a thing. I wish I was not an officially registered victim of a crime. I can wish until the cows come home but it changes nothing. Today I wrote my second victim statement because my offender is going to the parole board again and I decided to honor my story by publishing my first victim statement here. Writing a victim statement is a gut wrenching process to put it mildly. I am thinking of all the victims who have to do this process and I am with you.
To the CSC and Parole Board of Canada,
In July of 1994 I was 15 years of age and living with the Roberts family while my mother was away for an extended period of time. I had known Susan Roberts since she was in high school. She adopted me as her little sister. She supported me, affirmed me and loved me like an older sister would do. She had three beautiful children. That July, Dean Christopher Roberts took all of that way.
I lost the strongest and most positive person in my life. I had a difficult childhood and I struggled with self esteem and suicidal thoughts. Susan Roberts was a light in my life from the day I met her. She was my own personal cheerleader. I knew that no matter what I did, she would always be there for me, to love me and encourage me to move forward. At an incredibly vulnerable time in my life, Dean took away the biggest support I had. I told her things I had never told anyone else before. I trusted her and felt unconditional love in return. When she was gone I was left reeling. I felt empty and alone. It was a dark place that got darker. I didn’t sleep, I barely ate. Every morning I walked to the Safeway to look at the newspapers to learn any new information. The faces of people closest to me were often on the news. I felt hollow. I felt like I was a walking zombie and in a constant state of shock. I felt hopeless and more alone than I had every felt in my life. It was one thing to be alone before I met Susan, but to have someone who loved you, made you feel special and that you were worth something; to know what that felt like and then have that ripped away was like two opposing forces literally pulling at each side of your heart until it tears in two. I was at the bottom of a pit that had no end, no light and no escape.
As Susan’s husband, I trusted Dean. He appeared to be a loving and caring husband and father. He welcomed me to their home and lives. He made us laugh, he changed diapers and Susan loved him deeply. To realize that the man who covenanted to love and protect her, was the one who ended her life and the lives of their two sons while leaving Susan’s son to die in the fire, was a knife that cut to the very core of my soul. It did not seem fathomable that this man who we knew to be gentle and compassionate could commit such atrocities. I could not reconcile these two opposing forces in my young mind, and I know many adults could not either.
We rallied to his defense because this could not be true. As the hearings began and evidence unfolded, the pieces slowly came together that highlighted the path which lead to the conclusion that the man we knew did not exist. Hidden beneath this carefully constructed image was someone known only to few, someone who was capable of lies, plotting and destroying the people who loved him the most in the world.
All trust I ever had was broken. I never could have believed he did this, and yet he did. He fooled almost the entire community so this was not a case of the naivety of youth. This gut wrenching betrayal has stayed with me and brought into my life a mistrust for people. If I was so wrong before, could I be wrong again? I have been afraid of people at times. I have been afraid that people would hurt me physically and emotionally, which has negatively impacted many personal relationships. There are layers to the pain and loss that go deeper than I know exist. This is more than just a loss, there is betrayal, fear anxiety, insecurity and agony.
I miss Susan and the babies every single day of my life. The pain that came from their loss will never go away. It faded some with time, to allow me to continue with life but it will never ever leave. I still cry because I miss them. I have been robbed of Susan being in my life and celebrating all the high moments, but even more important, she would have been there with me through the lows, to encourage and love me. I think of the babies and how old they would be, what grades they would have gotten, what passions they would have pursued. I was robbed of the opportunity to love and support them as they grew through life. I babysat them, fed them, played with them and wanted to be a better person for them to look up to.
I also lost Jonathan. Though he physically survived he has been scarred in ways that will never heal. Had Susan been alive I would have been able to watch him grow in the safety and security of his mother’s care. She chose for him to be born, even though the circumstances were not ideal. Her love for him was fierce. He went to live with another family that had awkward relationships and I lost a closeness and connectedness that we should have had. He was so special to me and how Susan adored him. I was only 15 years old and I knew no one would ever give him to me but he was the person left who tied me the closest to her. He has never known a love that should have been, because Dean took that from us.
Dean was a master of puppets in his own show. He orchestrated the murders in such a way that had he not been trapped in an elaborate plan from the police and confessed, he could likely have gotten away with these crimes with no penalty. He was not remorseful after. He did not care that I brought him his ring that I found, which was a gift from Susan. He had a plan and carried out that plan with forethought, precision and accuracy. Thankfully he was outsmarted and exposed.
Is it possible for someone who so callously premeditated these killings to be rehabilitated? Is it ever possible to change? There are no certain answers to those questions, but what I have is the evidence that shows that Dean Roberts knows how to deceive people. He knows how to pretend and to say what you want to hear. He knows how to play by the rules so you think he is a rule abider. The only way to ever know if he has changed, is to release him to the public and see if he ever kills again. That test is a fail from the outset because the risk to society is not worth the chance. Someone else’s life is not worth hoping that he has learned his lesson from killing three people. I do not believe it is safe for the community if he should be released from prison. He only cares about himself – he always has, but he knows how to disguise this with socially acceptable behaviours.
His biological father has told my mother that Dean will get out of jail and will come and find me. At his trial in Nelson I stared him down when he was brought to the courthouse and when he left, which he complained to the judge about. I testified against him to help him be convicted. I am not afraid of him, but I do think he may want to harm me or those closest to me. Because of this, I ask that he not be allowed to contact me or my relatives nor reside in the same area that I do. In the unfortunate event that he be granted release, I request that he not be allowed to reside or travel in the areas of Cranbrook or Nelson.
He has not ever taken responsibility for his actions, yet he did murder three innocent and beautiful people in a vicious manner without regard for anyone or anything. He was determined to live a new life without them as demonstrated by the fact that he tried to poison them and when that didn’t work, he resorted to physical violence. Insurance money was of greater importance to him than human lives. I was there after dinner when they were sick. I thought it was the stomach flu and even still I felt awful for them to be so sick and in pain. I helped clean up and take care of them. He had many opportunities for a conscience to overrule his plan, for some kind of empathy to stop him and yet there was none. He is incredibly intelligent, but intelligence devoid of feeling and compassion gives us this cold and calculating killer.
Can you really expect someone as cold and callous as a man who planned the death of his wife and children to be a valuable contributor to our society? How can I feel safe – how can I feel that anyone is safe if he is not in prison? Why are we putting other people’s lives at risk? Does he have a right to be out of jail? Didn’t they have a right to live? This wasn’t a crime of passion where he needs to learn better anger management. He got what he wanted, and what he wanted was his wife and children dead but he shouldn’t get to be free. He will always place a greater value to what he wants, than anything or anyone else in his life. I am not safe if he is free, and neither is anyone else.