Bluevale homicide yields three life sentences - Jan. 17, 2019
BY LISA B. POT
Editor's Note: Some readers may find the details of the below story disturbing.
In an indicting comment to a letter stating convicted murderer, Kevin Carter of Wingham, was relying on his faith while in prison, Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas said “One wonders where your faith was on March 29, 2018.”
On that day, in a scene Judge Thomas referred to as “horrific beyond imagining” Carter first kidnapped his ex-girlfriend, Gail Fischer. Then he used a .22 rifle with a home-made silencer to shoot and kill Gail’s parents, Douglas, 77, and Marian, 66, in the home they all shared on C Line Road near Bluevale.
Carter was arrested on scene by Huron OPP thanks to the incredible presence of mind Gail showed by twice dialing 911. She dialed once with her nose and once while one arm was briefly released from a plastic zip tie, all this while her parents were being shot.
“You showed great fortitude and exceptional courage in contacting 911 like you did,” Judge Thomas told Gail in the courtroom.
Carter pled guilty to two charges of first degree murder and one count of kidnapping at his sentencing hearing on Jan. 8 in Goderich. He was sentenced to three counts of life in prison to be served concurrently.
Carter stood in the middle of the courtroom, head bowed, while details of that tragic day were read aloud from the agreed statement of facts document by acting Huron County Crown Attorney, Elizabeth Maguire. A prior publication ban was lifted, making the document public.
Gail was also in the courtroom, surrounded by detectives, police and her family, listening to the series of events that led to that brutal day.
The court was told Douglas and Marian Fischer had been married since 1975 and had five children between the two of them. Retired, Douglas suffered serious health problems and was dependent on the care provided by Marian and Gail. He needed a wheelchair or a walker to get around. He was still in bed on the morning of the murders.
Gail is an early childhood educator who works in Wingham. The Fischer and Carter families had known each for many years. Carter Carter was the master of ceremonies at Gail’s wedding, which ended in separation.
Carter had worked for Wescast for 30 years, had no criminal record, and was a community volunteer. He had married twice and had four children from the two marriages. He separated from his second wife in 2011. That same year, Carter and Gail moved into an apartment in Wingham together.
Gail was very close to her parents and she proposed the idea of building a home for the four of them so she could help take care of her father.
The Fischer family had owned a 50-acre Bluevale property for many years. In order to get a mortgage to build a new house, Douglas agreed to sell the property to Marian, Gail and Carter for $1 so they could move ahead with the plan.
The two couples moved into the new residence in February, 2016 with Carter and Gail living upstairs while Douglas and Marian lived on the first floor. They shared use of the kitchen,
In giving the history of the Fischer and Carter families, Maguire indicated Carter worked long hours and spent a lot of time fishing. What the Fischers did not know, was that Carter was accumulating income tax and credit card debt. He also struggled with alcohol.
The relationship between Carter and Gail had its struggles which began to escalate in 2017. Carter was dealing with income tax and credit card debt amounting to over $45,000. He was being pressured to repay so he took a lien on the house. In December, a call was made to 911 by Gail. She and her mother had been cleaning up debris on the property. When Carter returned home, Douglas called Carter “lazy” and told him he should be cleaning up instead of Gail and Marian. Police arrived and mediated the situation but relationships within the house deteriorated. The couple broke up and Carter moved back to Wingham in December, 2017.
In February, Carter altered his will and wrote in a letter to his ex-wife to remember that “I am not a bad person, only a person whose good choices went bad and bad choices went worse.”
To pay his debts, Carter was trying to sell the house Douglas, Marian and Gail still lived in. Gail had moved all of Carter’s belongings to a shed outside the house. Police were called to supervise when Carter, upset his belongings were in the shed, picked them up on March 10, 2018.
There were other disturbing events: It was reported Carter was stalking Gail and that there were threatening phone calls and demands for money. One day, the Fischer family found a box of rotten meat at the end of their laneway. It was surmised the meat came from the contents of Carter’s freezer the Fischers had put in the shed.
In the middle of March, Carter posted odd statements on Facebook indicating he was tired of drama. He wrote that even the nicest people have their limits.
There was a meeting between the Fischers and Carter where Gail and her parents offered to pay off some of Carter’s debt if he would sign his third of the house back to them. Carter refused, swearing as he left the Tim Hortons location.
On March 28, the day before the murders, Carter went to Listowel and purchased a 20-litre gas can and a self-igniting torch kit.
The next morning, on March 29, Gail got up and was getting ready for work. She had a coffee with her mother and then donning her winter coat and boots, walked to her Jeep outside. Carter was waiting by her vehicle. He attacked her, forced her to the ground and zip-tied her wrists behind her back. Carter told Gail he had a gun and she should not scream or fight. He told her this was happening because she had taken everything from him.
Gail’s glasses fell to the ground as Carter shouldered his Wescast duffle bag. Inside, were plastic bags, the torch, rope, duct tape, 15 heavy duty zip ties and one pair of black gloves. The gas can he purchased the day before was also there, as were pre-made lengths of duct tape he had stuck on the recycling bin.
Gail was forced back inside the house. Things escalated quickly.
Marian came out the bedroom and Carter shot her in the leg, hitting the femoral artery. Then Carter went to the master bedroom where he shot Douglas in the mouth, shattering his teeth. Gail ran to her dad in the bedroom, knocked the handset off the phone and made her first call to 911. It was 8:15 a.m.
While Gail was calling 911 with her nose, her mother was crawling to another phone. Carter shot Marian in the back of the head and killed her.
Carter returned Gail to the entryway of the house where he told her to take off her coat. She told him she could not because both her hands were tied behind her back. He cut one of the ties off and using the opportunity, Gail (who had been telling Carter she didn’t know where her cell phone was) dialed 911 and slipped her phone into her back pocket. During that call, the dispatcher and police could hear Gail crying for help and saying “it hurts.” Carter could be heard saying “it’s supposed to.” Also audible were sounds of Douglas’s final moments, coughing and choking.
Carter returned to the bedroom and put a pillow over Douglas’ head. Gail struggled to get the pillow off her father. Then Carter shot Douglas four to six more times. The shots to the head were fatal.
Carter then told Gail they were “going to do this one more time.” He took her upstairs. Gail slid her phone under the bed, hiding it. She was sexually assaulted.
Gail asked Carter to get her a glass of water. When he returned, they heard knocks on the door. Carter is reported as saying, “The police are here. Now you will get everything.”
At 8:30 a.m., the first officer was on the scene. At 8:43 a.m., officers broke down the door. They witnessed Carter walking down the stairs saying “everything is okay.” Carter was immediately detained and Gail was brought to the hospital. Both Douglas and Marian were pronounced dead at the scene.
After the Crown’s report was read, defence lawyer Robert Morris said the facts were essentially correct. He added it was Carter’s position that his intention that morning was to force the occupants out of the home, burn the house down and take his own life.
“We do not accept his statement as truth,” said Maguire.
With the facts laid out, four impact statements were read out by the assistant Crown Attorney, Laura Grant. In her written statement, Gail expressed “it angers me that Carter felt he could come into our house that day and change our lives forever.” Gail said when she closes her eyes, she sees everything occur all over again and lives in constant fear that if Carter is released, he will return to hurt or kill her and more members of her family.
In Carter’s defence, Morris read out several character letters where Carter was credited as being very involved in the community. It was stated he was a helpful and loving grandfather. Also, that Carter had much compassion for those in need.
A neighbour wrote in his character reference that Carter has always been “regarded as a kind and caring person who would always help when needed. He will always be regarded as one of the good people who came into our lives.”
The Chaplain of the prison where Carter had been held since the arrest said Carter has accepted his situation, is considerably remorseful and believes the murders were an act Carter considers “extremely out of character.”
Morris also stated that by pleading guilty, Carter “is accepting responsibility for what he did and is prepared to accept the consequences of what he did.”
Judge Thomas said the letters had little bearing on the case. He recounted that after watching her parents killed, Carter tried to force Gail into sexual acts. “His actions are so horrific, that they are, quite frankly, unimaginable,” said Judge Thomas.
The judge went on to refute Carter’s claims that he only intended to force Gail, Douglas and Marian from the home. “Yet you showed up with a gun with a silencer,” he said.
Carter was asked if he wished to say anything. He unfolded a small piece of paper on which he had written, “To the Fischer family and relatives and to my family and relatives, I am truly and deeply sorry for the pain and suffering I have caused you. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. If I could turn back time, I would. Do I regret it? Every day,” he said.
Then Carter looked up and said, “Douglas and Marian were good people and I am terribly sorry for taking their lives.”
In tears, as he was handcuffed and led from the courtroom for a court break, Carter looked at Gail and said, “I am so sorry.” He was met with silence.
Before sentencing Carter on the three counts against him, Judge Thomas again reflected on the letters that were read about Carter. “It’s like they were referring to a different person,” said the Judge.
“Nothing explains why Carter Carter could have been so evil as to have destroyed this family with such violence,” said Judge Thomas. “It was an act of greed, a final act of domination in a situation he found he could no longer control.”
He did credit Carter for eventually signing over ownership of the house and for pleading guilty so that the family would not have to sit through a painful trial.
In his comments to Gail, Judge Thomas praised and encouraged her, commending Gail’s “strength of character” in dialing 911 while her hands were tied behind her back.
“But for her actions, who knows what would have happened to her,” said Judge Thomas. “Her actions show a strength of character which will hopefully enable her to move forward.” He told Gail she should not feel guilt. “This was out of your hands. How could you have possibly known this would ever happen?”
Carter was then sentenced to three life sentences to be served concurrently with no chance for parole until 25 years have been served. By that time, Carter will be 82.
“However, given the age of the offender, the guilty plea and the personal circumstances upon which I have commented and the real likelihood Carter Carter will never be paroled, I believe concurrent sentences are fit and just in the circumstances,” said Judge Thomas.
Added to the sentencing, Carter was ordered not to contact Fischer family members. Their names were read aloud, an emotional revelation of how many people were directly affected by Carter’s actions.