WARNING: This article contains details of violence and sexual assault that readers may find disturbing.
Murderer and serial kidnapping child rapist Richard Joyce was denied both full parole and Escorted Temporary Visits (ETA) at his parole hearing on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2023.
His surviving victims, families of deceased victims, and supporters shared the experience in the first long-distance group parole hearing participation and observation event ever in Canada. A group of approximately 30 observers gathered in Conference Rooms A and B at Kingston’s INVISTA Centre at 1 p.m. Thursday to view the hearing remotely.
Currently, Joyce is incarcerated at William Head Institution, a Canadian minimum-security federal correctional institution for men located in Metchosin, B.C., about 25 kilometres southwest of Victoria on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island. There he is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, three kidnappings, two sexual assaults with a weapon, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, two counts of possession of a weapon, two counts of uttering threats, two counts of assault with a weapon, and two sexual assaults.
But this is not Joyce’s story. Rather it is the story of some strong girls, women, and men in Kingston, who suffered and continue to suffer because of the evil Joyce brought into their lives and those of their families and friends.
Readers may recall Kerri Kehoe, who brought her story to Kingstonist in June 2023, in hopes of gaining supporters in the fight to keep the man who kidnapped and violated her in jail. Since that publication, Kehoe’s story has taken hold and spread among other media outlets, other citizens and, most of all, other victims.
Kehoe, who spent a long period of her life trying to forget Richard Charles Joyce, has now become a force in the fight for victims’ rights — telling her story, befriending others who fell prey to Joyce, and rallying a group of supporters to stand up and fight against the possibillity of him gaining freedom even under supervision.
After a summer of giving interviews and organizing letter-writing campaigns, as the September 7 date for Joyce’s parole hearing was set, Kehoe, with help from Correctional Service Canada (CSC) Victim Services and the Parole Board of Canada, did something extraordinary: she filled a virtual courtroom with supporting observers and even rented space at the INVISTA Centre so a group could watch the proceedings together.
The first of its kind in Canada, the cross-country “watch party” organized by Kehoe allowed a group of approximately 30 observers to gather in Kingston with employees of the Parole Board and CSC Victim Services on hand to answer questions and facilitate. But with the convicted killer and serial kidnapping child rapist facing the Parole Board at William Head Institution on the other side of the country, this particular “watch party” was the opposite of a festive event.
Wendy Smith, Regional Manager of Community Relations and Training for the Ontario/Nunavut Regional Office of the Parole Board of Canada, facilitated one of two video link-ups to the hearing in B.C. She gave a detailed briefing, introducing the parts of the hearing and what viewers should expect.
Joyce, dressed in a plain white T-shirt, entered the room and sat at the right hand side of a large tablen Now 55 years old, he is tall, muscular, and trim, noticeably tanned with short-cropped greying hair. He sat mostly with his hands in his lap, glancing about with noticeably bulging eyes.
On his right sat his parole officer, Eleanor Creighton, and on his left was his assistant. Smith explained that an assistant is a person of the inmate’s choosing who can support them in their parole application; Fran Kitson of of The Mustard Seed Street Church, Victoria, supported Joyce in this role. Kitson has been a volunteer at William Head for 40 years, according to an article about her in B.C.’s Times Colonist, which indicates, “Kitson visits once a month, sits in the prison chapel and meets with inmates. She counsels them and tries to come up with a plan for their release, letting them know what supports exist in the community.”
The two Parole Board members who led the hearing began by introducing themselves and the serious nature of the hearing.
Next, Kehoe bravely recounted once again through tears the impact that Joyce’s attack has had on her life. She also relayed the story of her cousin, April Morrison, saying, “Since receiving the letter from CSC informing me that Joyce has requested Escorted Temporary Absence and parole, I have not been able to stop thinking of April Morrison, who was murdered by Duane Edward Taylor on Aug. 21, 1981, in Kingston when she was two years old. April Morrison was my cousin.”
Kehoe said that in 1978, Taylor had been sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape — but he was granted parole after serving two thirds of his sentence. “Only 11 days after being released from prison,” Kehoe said, “after serving only two thirds of his sentence, Taylor brutally murdered two-year-old April, who was walking back from the park with her two older brothers.”
Through tears, Kehoe struggled to continue, returning to the subject of Joyce’s crimes. “If I had come forward in 1990 at the time of my kidnapping when I was 11 years old, there’s a chance that [Joyce’s murder victim] Margaret Yvonne Rouleau, a mother of three, would be alive today. That thought occupies my mind more often than not.”
“Another thought that occupies my mind on a daily basis is that while incarcerated, Richard Joyce had 20 years to confess that he kidnapped and brutally sexually assaulted three little girls before he senselessly murdered a mother of three young children,” she went on.
“Richard Joyce had the best specialized treatment options available in Canada at his fingertips for 20 years to ask for help, to help himself be accountable for his crimes against innocent children, to search for redemption — and yet the offender before you, [who is] seeking escorted passes in the community and parole, did none of that,” she pointed out. “What he did do is appear to be a model prisoner.”
“In closing,” said Kehoe, “I don’t believe model prisoners become pedophiles. I believe pedophiles become model prisoners and cascade their way down to minimum security in the hopes of being granted Escorted Temporary Absence as the beginning of their potential release plans.”
“There is no cure for pedophilia,” Kehoe said, “and having been at the mercy of the evil that sits before you, I can say there isn’t a shadow of a doubt that Richard Joyce is a danger to the community, just like Duane Taylor was before the Parole Board of Canada granted his release.”
Kehoe’s impact statement was followed by a statement from the mother of another victim, whose attack by Joyce is subject to a publication ban.
Then the family of the woman Joyce murdered got the opportunity to speak. Robert Rouleau, brother-in-law of Margaret Yvonne Rouleau, spoke evenly and earnestly, though he has asked that his victim impact statement not be shared. The facts of the murder are well-known and heinous.On May, 1, 1991, Rouleau was attacked at her workplace, Nozzles Gas Bar in Kingston, by Joyce and one of her former employees, Terry Douglas Kennedy.
According to news reports at the time of their trial, Joyce and Kennedy held Rouleau by her hair over the gas bar’s floor safe. They tortured her with punches to the head and face and shallow knife jabs to her neck and shoulders to force her to open the safe, before ultimately cutting her throat and leaving her to die. Joyce reportedly laughed when he heard the verdict that he’d been found guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Next, Joyce’s parole officer gave an account of Joyce’s crimes and his life behind bars. The officer was faced with some very tough questions from the board, but a publication ban precludes both the questions and his answers from being shared. Finally the board heard from Kitson and Joyce himself.
After more than three hours, the board took a recess to deliberate, and the supporters in the viewing room burst into shocked conversation.
Outside the INVISTA Centre’s Conference Room B, scores of young men — many of them not much younger than Joyce was when he committed the atrocities of his squandered youth — dressed proudly in “Junior Gaels” swag, carried hockey equipment throughout the now crowded facility. Younger children skittered among them, heading to their own after-school activities. There was an air of laughter and innocence.
Inside Conference Room B, by sharp contrast, the air was thick and oppressive. A 55-year-old rapist and murderer had just nonchalantly and unremorsefully described crimes he had committed against such children. Rage was evident in every whispered remark, and there were some very vocal commentators.
Some of the viewers expressed disbelief at the support Joyce seemed to have from his parole officer, but especially from Kitson, who said she now saw “Rick” Joyce as a “friend.”
“Why don’t you take him home, then?” asked a disgusted observer.
The mother of the unnamed then-nine-year-old old victim came in from the other conference room. A petite, frail, grey-haired woman, she said quietly to a friend, “I always thought and felt guilty wondering, what if we caught the wrong guy?” She shook her head, face white, and said, “He just admitted it. Now I know for sure. He just admitted it. Just like that.”
Then, after just twenty minutes of deliberation, the board had made its decision. The chair of the board declared that there would be no full parole for Richard Joyce. Tentative yet enthusiastic cheers came from the assembled observers.
The chair then stated that there would be no Escorted Temporary Visits either. Loud applause erupted from the group.
When it was over, Kehoe and the other victims came into the observation room to loud applause. Tears were flowing freely. Kehoe spoke briefly, thanking the crowd for their support. Then, characteristically, she turned to the mother of the other child whose life was forever altered by Joyce’s crimes, and offered her a ride home.
Kingstonist will have more coverage, including an interview with Kerri Kehoe, in the coming days.
The following is information from Kingston Police:
For active incidents of violence, dangerous scenarios, or any emergency situations call 911.
For individuals experiencing emotional or mental distress, AMHS-KFLA (https://amhs-kfla.ca/programs-services/crisis/) crisis lines are staffed 24/7, 365 days a year by experienced professionals. They can provide immediate support, advocacy, and referrals to appropriate services as needed. The Kingston & Frontenac 24/7 Crisis Line can be reached at 613-544-4229 or Toll Free at 1-866-616-6005.
No one has the right to abuse another person. Victims of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or any type of sex crime (and those who may have witnessed such crimes) are encouraged to contact Kingston Police. The following links offer valuable support services and resources in the Kingston area for victims of sexual abuse and/or violence:
- Kingston Police (613-549-4660)
- Kingston Interval House
- Kingston Sexual Assault Centre
- Resolve Counselling Services Canada
- KFACC (Kingston Frontenac Anti-violence Coordinating Committee)
- Victim Services of Kingston and Frontenac (613-548-4834)
- Addiction & Mental Health Services – Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington
- Ministry of the Attorney General – Violence in the Family
- Ministry of the Attorney General – Victim Services Directory
- Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres
- Canadian Centre for Men and Families