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John Chipman’s book Death in the Family delves into the lives of four of the families devastated by a child’s death and then victimized by Dr. Charles Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric forensic pathologist. Years later Smith would be found...

Falsely convicted, in maximum security and pregnant | Toronto Star

John Chipman’s book Death in the Family delves into the lives of four of the families devastated by a child’s death and then victimized by Dr. Charles Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric forensic pathologist. Years later Smith would be found...

Falsely convicted, in maximum security and pregnant | Toronto Star

John Chipman’s book Death in the Family delves into the lives of four of the families devastated by a child’s death and then victimized by Dr. Charles Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric forensic pathologist. Years later Smith would be found guilty of professional misconduct.

Scarborough native Tammy Marquardt spent 13 years in prison for murdering her 2-year-old son, Kenneth Wynne. She lost another son to adoption through Children’s Aid, then entered prison pregnant. Her conviction in October 1995 was quashed in 2011 because it relied on flawed testimony from Smith that pointed to asphyxiation. A new trial was ordered, but the Crown withdrew charges.

Tammy and the other new prisoners were first taken to Admissions and Discharge. Everyone was strip-searched, then given their prison kit: two pairs of sweatpants, two sweaters, two T-shirts, five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, two bras, four towels, four facecloths, two sheets, one pillow, one pillowcase, a blue blanket and some basic toiletries and personal hygiene products. All of her worldly belongings could now fit inside a pillowcase.

After intake, the new inmates were taken to see the OIC, or the officer-in-charge. His name was Barry McGinnis, and he had some words of advice for Tammy. “If you want that child to live,” he said, pointing to her stomach, “you don’t tell anyone what you’re in here for.”

It had never occurred to Tammy that none of the other inmates would know what she was in for. She asked McGinnis what she should say if people asked.

“Tell them you killed your husband,” he said.

It was good advice, crucial advice; advice he didn’t have to give her. She was never sure whether he told her for her baby’s sake, for her own safety or to save himself the trouble of dealing with the aftermath if an inmate tried to beat her to death.

P4W was a multi-security prison, since at the time it was the only women’s penal institution in the country. The prison was made up of two ranges, called A and B, a segregation unit and a separate area called the Wing. New inmates — the “fresh fish” — were housed in A range; B range was for the troublemakers, the inmates who liked to start fights and otherwise stir up trouble.

Protective custody was in the segregation unit; it was for the baby killers and “goofs” — the pedophiles. The protective custody-special needs unit housed the mentally unstable. The Wing — split into North and South sections — was for minimum-security inmates, or lifers. Inmates were given slightly more freedom down on the Wing, where the cells looked a bit more like rooms than concrete boxes. The Wing was the carrot; if you behaved yourself, that’s where they’d put you.

Tammy started out double-bunked on A range. A and B ranges were long, two-tier corridors that ran parallel to each other. Though the walls were concrete, sound travelled through them as if they were paper. Each range housed more than 50 cells, tiny boxes that barely measured nine feet by six. Jammed inside each was a metal bunk bed with mattresses that weren’t much thicker than a folded-up blanket. There was a tall cabinet for personal belongings, a metal desk, a metal drawer, a sink on one wall. The toilet was mounted on the back wall, behind the bed.

It was such a tight squeeze that the front of the toilet was under the lip of the bed, making it almost impossible to sit on the toilet properly. You had to either sit sideways or straddle the toilet and then carefully slide your feet under the bed frame and your knees up against it in order to sit down. Tammy was barely five feet tall and 85 pounds and even she couldn’t sit on it properly.

And there was no hope of privacy. Prisoners were allowed to hang a blanket across the metal bars of their cells, but the door itself always had to be kept clear. Inmates and guards, female and male, could see inside as a prisoner squatted in the back corner.

And then there was her roommate. Tammy would be sharing the tiny cell with another pregnant inmate. When she couldn’t hold it any longer, Tammy would have to s--- in the open cell with her roommate within arm’s reach.

But that indignity didn’t last long. Lifers weren’t supposed to be double-bunked. At her first meal that evening, Tammy met the chair of the lifers group, who immediately started petitioning for her to move down to the Wing, where living conditions were more passable. The cells there had locks on the inside. The guards could still open them, but it gave the inmates some privacy from other inmates. Tammy was transferred down to the Wing after a month.

She’d been living on the Wing just a couple of weeks when another lifer called her into her cell. Her name was Agatha, and she was pushing 70, Tammy figured. She was a nice woman who’d taken Tammy under her wing. Agatha reminded her of Tweety Bird’s Granny: matronly, but fierce when someone she cared for came under threat.

Agatha asked Tammy if she watched the news. Tammy shook her head. Agatha said she’d seen a story that she thought might be about Tammy, and asked her point-blank what she was really in for.

Tammy started to sob. She hadn’t meant to lie, she admitted, but she’d been warned she’d have to if she wanted her baby to live. Agatha only cared what Tammy had been convicted of.

“They said I killed my son.”

Agatha said she would get the guards to move Tammy into protective custody, or PC, a separate unit that was a sort of prison within the prison, meant for inmates who couldn’t live in the general population because their crimes made them targets — crimes like killing your child.

As if on cue, inmates began banging on Agatha’s cell door, screaming obscenities. “Get that f---ing baby killer out of here!” “She’s just having that kid so she can kill another one!” “We’re going to f---ing kill her! We’re going to torture her!” “Let her out, you bitch! You’re harbouring a baby killer!”

The screaming continued for several minutes; it felt like hours to Tammy, cowering in the cell while inmates pounded on the bars and threatened to beat her to death. Prison guards finally arrived to clear the hallway and take Tammy away. They took her first to segregation. She was strip-searched again, and that’s when she realized she was covered in blood. The baby was in distress.

The guards rushed her to the health-care unit, which then rushed her to Kingston General Hospital. There, the obstetrician gave her a quick examination and an ultrasound. The baby was fine, she said. No need to worry, just some spot bleeding.

Back at the prison, Tammy was returned to segregation. Her bleeding slowed but didn’t stop. After a couple of days, she was transferred to the protective custody unit. This was actually two units: protective custody, and protective custody-special needs. Tammy ended up in the special needs unit at first. The cell was just outside the guards’ office, and she was under constant supervision. She wasn’t allowed out except to shower. She was then moved to protective custody.

It would be her home for the rest of her time at P4W, locked away from the other inmates for her own protection.

“Basically, you had a price on your head [in protective custody]. You were targeted the second you walked in there,” Tammy recalled years later.

She would be living alongside baby killers and pedophiles, the mentally unhinged and “psychos.” She’d be living in the same unit as Karla Homolka.

Tammy remembers watching Homolka bounce down the stairs, her hair pulled back in a girlish ponytail. She reminded Tammy of Marsha from The Brady Bunch.

“Hi, I’m Karla,” a bubbly Homolka said outside Tammy’s cell. “If you need anything, just holler up and I’ll get it for you.”

Tammy only nodded. She couldn’t bring herself to respond.

They didn’t become friends. Tammy kept her distance, and the serial killer didn’t push it. But some interactions were unavoidable. Karla was the prisoner representative for the protective custody unit. Any complaints Tammy had about life in PC needed to be funnelled through Karla, who would bring them to the inmate committee and eventually the prison administration. So although some conversation was inevitable, Tammy said she did her best to keep it to a minimum.

Despite the close quarters, there weren’t that many opportunities to interact anyway. There were no shared meals in a mess hall. In PC, inmates ate their meals alone, locked in their cells. The unit was on almost constant lockdown, not because of disruptions there but because both of the two PC guards needed to be present if the cells were to be left open. But one of the guards was frequently called away to help quell disruptions in other parts of the prison, leaving only one on duty — and leaving everyone locked in their cells.

Teresa and Lauralie were the only other women in protective custody. Tammy wasn’t sure what they were in for, but the talk among inmates was that they had killed their children. Lauralie was tight with Karla, at least when Karla was within earshot. Otherwise Lauralie would complain that she couldn’t stand her. Teresa was large, aggressive and moody.

They had occasional access to the adjacent protective custody-special needs unit as well, but it wasn’t a place you’d want to visit. That’s where the mentally unstable prisoners were housed, the ones who likely should have been in a hospital rather than a prison. They wailed and screamed, banged their heads against the metal bars of their cell doors. Several tried to kill themselves. One woman threw her own feces at other inmates if they got too close to her cell.

And that was Tammy’s world: two alleged child killers, Karla Homolka and a ward full of the mentally unhinged.

Moving around the prison was a problem. P4W was a violent, dangerous place — especially for convicted child killers. But Tammy needed to get around — she was pregnant. She had regular pre-natal appointments in the health clinic, plus she had prison-mandated sessions with a psychologist. But getting from her cell to her appointments could be dangerous.

As a convicted child killer, Tammy was always escorted by a prison guard, who would take her down to a basement tunnel to move her about the prison. “The tunnel was the danger zone,” Tammy explained years later. “There were little hidden corners, little breaks in the walls. I had coffee thrown at me. I had shoes thrown at me. I had bodily fluids thrown at me.

“I had one girl come up behind us and hit me with her coffee cup.”

There was a blind corner at the end of the tunnel. The lighting was poor, the shadows were long, and you had no idea who was waiting around the corner. And sometimes Tammy’s escort turned away.

“That was the extreme danger zone,” she said. “That’s where I got jumped more times than I care to remember. The guard would just walk away or turn around.” One time, four women were waiting for Tammy. At first she fought back, but she soon realized it was pointless — it was far from a fair fight. So Tammy learned to go down quickly, turtling on the floor, her arms protecting her head, her legs pulled up tightly to protect her abdomen as a torrent of fists and feet pounded her.

“It was only after I was down on the ground that I guess the guard figured, ‘That’s enough. Don’t actually kill her.’ Then she would step in.”

Eric Anthony Steven Marquardt was born on June 20, 1996, at Kingston General Hospital. Tammy gave birth in shackles and handcuffs. The prison guards refused to take them off because she was a maximum-security prisoner. As well, Tammy was appealing her conviction, which made her a flight risk.

The restraints meant she couldn’t get her feet into the stirrups for the birth. She pulled her feet up and in, pushing her knees out to the side, her legs contorted into a diamond shape. The obstetrician draped a blanket over her legs and did the best he could. Labour lasted a day and a half.

After the birth, the guards undid her handcuffs so she could hold her newborn. But they kept the shackles on and chained one arm to the wheelchair. She did her best to breathe in her son, to memorize the lines and creases of his face. Then the social workers bundled Eric up and took him away. Tammy shuffled into the prison transfer wagon and headed back to P4W.

Excerpted from Death in the Family by John Chipman. Copyright © 2017 by John Chipman. Published by Doubleday Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Excerpted from Death in the Family by John Chipman. Copyright © 2017 by John Chipman. Published by Doubleday Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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