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Barrie mom faced custody hearing

Girls, 1 and 3, found dead at home
Family court appearance set for today


BARRIE - Friends say a woman charged with killing her two young daughters feared she was about to lose them in a bitter custody battle with her estranged husband.

The latest chapter in the custody dispute was to have played out in family court today, but yesterday's slayings of Sophia Campione, 3, and her year-old sister Serena have brought that hearing to a tragic end.

Frances Elaine Campione, 31, will instead face two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the blond-haired tots who one friend described as "perfect little angels."

Police and an attendant wheel the body of one of two children slain in a Barrie apartment to a funeral home car on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The mother of the two girls, aged 1 and 3, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Neighbours in the 13-storey apartment building on Coulter St., a stone's thrown from Bayfield St. and Highway 400 in Barrie's north end, were stunned by news that police had found the children dead when they answered an emergency call shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday.

Insp. Jim Farrell said Campione had placed a 911 call reporting "two dead children inside an apartment."

As officers stood watch over the slain youngsters' bodies, Campione was taken to Royal Victoria Hospital for a medical examination and then moved to police headquarters for questioning.

Police were awaiting the results of autopsies today to learn how the children were killed.

"It's a sad day for the city of Barrie," Farrell said.

Campione had moved to the apartment, behind the huge Bayfield Mall, a few months ago after separating from her husband, Leo, who was living with his parents in Woodbridge.

Neighbours said Children's Aid Society workers had visited her twice in recent weeks as she prepared for today's custody hearing.

Some recalled seeing the little girls running in the hallways of the building or holding on to their mother in the elevators.

"They were the sweetest little girls that you've ever seen in your life tiny, petite and well-behaved," said neighbour Cathie Morgan, 50. "The mother always took such good care of them. They were always dressed in princess dresses."

Morgan said she was struggling to understand how anyone could take two precious, innocent lives.

Campione was a "woman who was tormented," said friend Sharon Lynn, who wiped tears from red-rimmed eyes as she placed flowers outside the building late yesterday afternoon.

Lynn said Campione was struggling to cope with a life that was "so bad.

"That mother needs a hug," she said. "She needs to know that people love her."

John Kerr said he last saw the mother and daughters in an elevator a day earlier.

"She's not a happy woman," said Kerr, 37. "I've never ever seen that woman smile.

"She was not a happy person at all."

A resident of the Woodbridge neighbourhood where Leo Campione grew up said the girls' mother went into a deep depression after the birth of her second child last year.

She said the mother dropped the children off at her in-laws, saying she couldn't deal with them.

At one point, she didn't even want to see the kids, so the grandmother took them in, the neighbour said.

One neighbour on the Woodbridge street where the dead girl's grandparents live collapsed when she heard the news of the slayings.

Other neighbours described the girls' father as a hard-working, soft-spoken construction worker who loved to spend time with his children.

"He loved his kids," said Elisa Rizzo, a grandmother who watched Leo Campione grow up on the street, fall in love, then suffer through marriage break-up.

"He wanted to work things out for the kids, and he loved his wife too," said Rizzo.

Family members guarded the grandparents' door from the media as red-eyed neighbours dropped in to pay their respects.

Neighbours said the girls' grandparents loved to walk the girls through the neighbourhood where many families have lived for a quarter-century.

"They would walk them every day," one said.

"They loved to take them to the park and to church," said another.

The building where the slayings took place is operated by the Barrie Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation, which provides geared-to-income and full-market-rate units.

Ann Harvey, the corporation's community relations manager, said she had met the family and described the two dead girls as "very sweet."

"The whole family was very wonderful gentle, sweet people," she said. "They were nice young children.

"There's just sadness, just overwhelming sadness."

Barrie had just two homicides in 2005.

"Barrie doesn't see too many homicides in a year," said Sgt. Dave Goodbrand. "To make it two children, it touches the hearts of everybody.

"It's going to take some time for people to try to consume why this occurred," he said. "Hopefully we'll have some answers for the public in time to come.

"There's still a lot of legwork that has to be done by investigators."

Goodbrand said he was moved as he watched the youngsters' bodies removed from the building.

"It chokes me up," he said. "I have two children about the same ages.

"I can't imagine anything like this. It would be my worst nightmare."


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Baby Died from Herpes Transmitted by Rabbi During Ritual Genital Mutilation

ABC News USA - Spanking children Leads to aggression

Baby Dies of Herpes in Ritual Circumcision By Orthodox Jews

ABC News, U.S.A., by Susan Donaldson James, March 12, 2012

New York City is investigating the death last September of a baby who contracted herpes after a "ritual circumcision with oral suction," in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ceremony known in Hebrew as metzitzah b'peh.

The district attorney's office in Kings County Brooklyn is investigating the death of the 2-week-old baby at Maimonides Hospital, but would not disclose the name of the mohel or whether there would be a prosecution.

The 5,000-year-old religious practice is seen primarily in ultra-Orthodox and some orthodox communities and has caused an alarm among city health officials. In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died.

The mohel who performed the procedures, Yitzchok Fischer, was later banned from doing circumcisions, according to The New York Times. It is not known if he was involved in this recent death.

"It's certainly not something any of us recommend in the modern infection-control era," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.

"This is a ritual of historic Abraham that's come down through the ages, and now it has met modern science," he said. "It was never a good idea, and there is a better way to do this." (The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device to clean the wound in a circumcision.)

In the 2004 death and the more recent one, a mohel infected the penile wounds with Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which affects the mouth and throat. It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.

Neonatal herpes is "almost always" a fatal infection, according to Schaffner. "It's a bad virus. [Infants] have no immunity and so it's a very serious illness. Now we have another death -- an unnecessary, incredibly tragic death."

Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) Circumcision - Baby Boy Botched

Circumcision Botched - Canadian Press

Circumcision Botched by Jewish Father Results in Conviction for Aggravated Assault

The Canadian Press
Dec. 22, 2011

VANCOUVER - A B.C. man who performed a botched circumcision on his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home has lost an appeal of his conviction and been found guilty of a more serious charge.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has stayed the man's conviction for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and convicted him of aggravated assault.

Court heard the boy was born premature at only 2.5 pounds and could not be circumcised at the time, nor did his parents request it.