Laura Babcock’s parents have spent months trying to have their murdered daughter officially declared dead. Now, the Ontario government has made changes allowing that to happen.
The province announced Monday that it has amended part of the Vital Statistics Act to make it easier to register someone as dead when no remains are found.
That’s welcome news to Laura Babcock’s mother, Linda.
“I’m very pleased that other families won’t have to suffer like we have,” she told CBC Toronto.
“It’s a no brainer.”
Babcock, 23, was one of three people who died at the hands of Dellen Millard. The 34-year-old Torontonian was also convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his father, Wayne, as well as Hamilton man Tim Bosma.
Mark Smich, 32, of Oakville, Ont., was also convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Babcock and Bosma.
Babcock disappeared back in 2012, and Millard and Smich were convicted of her murder in 2017.
Babcock’s parents received a voter card addressed to their daughter before the 2018 provincial election, and were then shocked to learn that their daughter had not officially been declared dead.
That’s because the coroner’s office was not able to issue her death certificate. Two of the things that must be recorded as part of that process are cause of death and manner of death, according to the coroner’s office, and neither was possible without a body.
That forced the Babcock family to go to court and ask a judge to officially declare her dead — even though two men were already serving life sentences for her murder.
Even with that declaration of death in hand, the coroner’s office was unable to issue a death certificate and officially register Babcock as dead, because her remains were never recovered.
Ivana Yelich, spokesperson for the premier’s office, told CBC News in an email that the new regulations stipulate a declaration of death from a judge and a statement of death would be enough proof to register a person as dead, as long as “the courts have determined that the individual disappeared in circumstances of peril, is presumed to have died and there are no physical remains.”
Yelich could not say if Laura Babcock’s family has received her death certificate.
“We will have more to say in the coming days,” she said.
Linda Babcock, for her part, said she is very pleased with the province’s response on what was undoubtedly a rare conundrum.
“It’s been very positive. They’ve all been very kind,” she said.
“It happened far quicker than we thought it would.”