Police are investigating after an anonymous letter suggesting that a teen with autism should be euthanized stunned his family and led to widespread outrage and media attention.
The typed, one-page letter was reportedly sent to Brenda Millson last week in reference to her grandson Maxwell Begley, 13, who has autism and often spends time at her house in Newcastle, Ontario. It has since spread like wildfire through social media.
“He is a hinderance to everyone,” reads the message signed by “One pissed off mother!!!!!”
“Take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science,” says the letter, which claims to be from a neighbor. “Do the right thing and move or euthanize him.”
The note left Begley’s family shaking.
“It made me sick to my stomach to think that somebody hated my son that much and they didn’t even know him,” Maxwell’s mom, Karla Begley, told the Toronto Star. “But they just hated him because he was different. That’s the only reason they had to hate him.”
Since the story went viral, however, the family has been touched by the outpouring of support they’ve received from their local community and around the world, telling Clarington This Week that their phone has been ringing off the hook with interview requests.
Local community members have come together to organize events supporting the family and a Facebook group started Tuesday already has more than 2,300 members.
“It restores my faith in humanity that this has really rallied people,” Karla Begley told Clarington This Week.
Local police are conducting a criminal investigation into the matter but have already ruled out the possibility of pursuing hate crimes charges in the case.
“Despite the hateful language used, the Crown Attorney’s office has advised that the content of the letter falls below the threshold for a hate crime. However, there are other Criminal Code issues that are being considered,” the Durham Regional Police said in a statement.