Jordan Desmond Heikamp
May 19, 1997 - June 23, 1997
Find A Grave Memorial
Renee Heikamp was a new mother and she was homeless when the Catholic Children's Aid society placed them in the Anduhyaun Shelter for abused aboriginal women, in Canada. At that time, Jordan's weight at the time he and his mother entered the shelter was four pounds six ounces. weeks later when he died, he weighed four pounds two ounces. <>Angie Martin was the caseworker assigned to Renee and Jordan. Renee would tell Angie that Jordan was gaining weight and doing fine, it was a lie. Why is it that Angie wasn't there to SEE what was going on?  Workers at the shelter claimed that Renee was more interested in talking on the phone than in being a mother to Jordan. They called Angie and made her aware of what was going on.

Renee said that she was feeding Jordan every two to four hours and that he ate like a pig, when she was interviewed by police after he died, she would say that it was hard to feed him because he was always falling asleep while eating and that he slept for up to eight hours at a time. This statement didn't make sense to the people at the shelter:

"Well that just indicates a complete lack of common sense.  I mean, she also understood,
and she also testified she knew,
she had to feed the baby every two to three hours," 
Susan Hare Lawyer for Anduhyaun

Pictures that were shown at trial were of a baby who was nothing but skin and bones. Jordan's skeleton could be seen from the outside with a little bit of skin hanging off of it. The coroner asked Renee why it was that her soon looked like he did and she did nothing to help him. Renee started crying and insisted that it was not how he looked before he died or she would have taken him to the hospital. A pediatrician testified that the pictures showed how Jordan would have looked in the last two or three days of his life. Renee also said that there were no signs of Jordan was starving to death before he died. 

Renee said that the staff at the shelter had told her that babies grew while they were sleeping and she should not wake him up to feed him. Stating that she was happy with the shelter when she first arrived, she later felt that she was being ignored and that they didn't want her there, she felt uncomfortable after being there for awhile. 

Angie Martin only saw Jordan twice after being assigned as their case worker. She saw him once after he left the hospital and once, two weeks before his death. Angie chose to hold interviews with Renee in her office and at one point even suggested to her that she get a baby sitter to watch Jordan while she attended the interviews. When she saw Jordan, Angie wrote in her notes that it didn't seem he was gaining weight, however, she didn't act on this. Angie claimed to be overwork, saying she had 38 cases. A review of her files would later show that most of those cases were either closed or inactive. One of the saddest revelations is that if Renee and Jordan had been living in a place of their own, she would probably have had more visits from Angie. Angie had assumed that the shelter was monitoring Jordan's progress though legally he was the responsibility of her and the Catholic Children's Aid Society. 

When asked why she had lied to Angie Martin about his weight gain, Renee said that a lack of education on her part was partly to blame for Jordan's death, just she didn't know how sick he really was. Placing part of the blame on Angie Martin, she said that there was a lack of assistance and she should have taken more responsibility. She would later say that she realized it was hard on Angie Martin because she made it difficult for her to give her the help she needed.

Renee Heikamp and Angie Martin were charged with criminal negligence resulting in death. In 1998 after the preliminary hearing which lasted 13 days, Madam Justice Mary Hogan of the Ontario Court Of Justice ruled that Jordan's case would not go to trial due to lack of evidence. Mary Hogan ruled that the evidence of wanton reckless disregard for the life of and safety of another person by either Renee or Angie, was not proven. The judge also ruled that death of Jordan was a terrible tragedy which could have been prevented:

"The difficulty here seemed to be that everyone felt that somebody else was taking responsibility with the result t hat no one took full responsibility"

Crown counsel Paul Culver felt that Judge Hogan had made a mistake and that if she had then a preliminary hearing as she should have, she could have made the findings credible:

"The Crown could still have sought a preferred indictment which, if successful, would
have sent the two women directly to trial"

However, he felt that a trial of that nature could taken three years to actually happen. They could not force Renee to testify and if she did, the jury might not find her guilty since she was a teenage mother and if she were to be convicted, how much time would she receive? He also felt that the jury would be unwilling to convict a middle aged case worker. Paul Culver decided that an inquest was needed.

A coroners inquest is presided over by a medical doctor and is much like a  trial since witnesses are called, though nothing they say can be used against them. The jury does not find blame in what has happened, they are only able to make recommendations to improve the system.

In April 2001, a four month investigation was concluded and a coroner's inquest ruled the death of Jordan to be a homicide and recommended changes be made to the child protection system to prevent deaths of children in the  future. Implicated in the recommendations were the entire child protection system including the Catholic Children's Aid Society, homeless shelters, public health departments, hospitals and the Ministry Of Community And Social Services.

The Ontario coroner's office made 44 recommendations for changes to protect children, including the following:

That child protection workers realize that their client is the child in need of protection, not the parent.

That children's aid workers hold weekly face-to-face home visits with children under four months.

That child protection workers be made aware that some young people in the shelter system have become adept at lying and manipulation.

That shelter staff offer help without being asked.

That shelter workers be educated to recognize the signs of when a baby is not thriving.

That the time for children's aid workers to assess the risks of newborns be shortened to seven days from 21. 

That there be an increase in funding to supervising agencies.

That new prenatal programs be establish for teens and homeless mothers.

When the verdict was read, Renee cried. She said that the recommendations proved she was not solely responsible for the death of Jordan:

"I hope something positive comes out of all this and other young mothers learn from all this"

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I can't thank them enough for providing me with the picture of Jordan, above.

Death Occurred in Canada

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