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Shock After Family Told To ‘Euthanize’ Boy With Autism


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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.

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Comments (17 Responses)

  1. Donna May says:

    This should be pursued as a hate crime! what sane person in their right mind would write something so hurtful and demeaning about another human being? I can’t believe she would stoop so low as to write such a hurtful letter and not expect consequences as a result.

  2. Emilie says:

    As the daughter of a person with a disability, and as a parent of a child with a disability, of course I find this disgusting, but I’m not sure that it’s all so shocking. People with disabilities are segregated in school (special center programs and self-contained classrooms), employment (sheltered workshops), and often housing (group or nursing homes). Being truly inclusive would mean all people are welcomed everywhere all the time. It’s easy to say you’re shocked, but this segregation is accepted as an institution in many, many places.

  3. Kim O'Neill says:

    This is why I believe students with disabilities should be included and mainstreamed to the maximum extent that their disability allows. No matter what they should have classes from an early age with their peers so that they all can learn from one another. I feel this helps teach all students compassion and acceptance.

  4. Colleen says:

    I started the Facebook group cause I was so upset
    I hope the family sees it soon

    I started support group 4 family #Love4Maxwell

  5. Barb says:

    This is so heartbreaking. I have an autistic son. I have had to put up with neighborhood kids (and adults) ostracizing him, people staring at him, kids laughing at him, nasty looks out in public, from both kids and adults.

  6. Karen says:

    The writer of that hateful letter needs to see a psychiatrist and get some help for her anger issues. I also feel sorry for her kids, who probably are forced to listen to her unhinged ranting on a daily basis.

  7. Whitney says:

    It is form of prejudice as simple as that. To treat a person who is intellectually disable and cognitive disabled differently from the rest of society where is it is tolerated and justified has to stop. It is about human dignity and it is simple as that. As a human being it is so easy for us to discriminate those who are different race, gender and ethinicity, Now add disability where people who are non-disabled get paid more all it is discrimination pure simple.

  8. jakki says:

    For all the talk of tolerance, diversity, acceptance, etc. when it comes to someone with a disability after they mature and are not so cute anymore, it is not at all uncommon for this type of response to come from parents in particular. My now 25 year old daughter with CP was so traumatized by the horrible things done and said to her in jr high and high school she turned to very unhealthy coping skills that have only made her life that much more trying for her. I don’t know what the answer is other than we must all try to place ourselves in anothers shoes before we judge so harshly. No one, absolutely no one knows what it’s like having a special needs child except other families who have them and even at that each family experience is different.

  9. Random Integer says:

    Whoever wrote this, consider that even the most evil of criminals do not get “executed” (there is no execution for even murder or treason in this country, maximum penalty for these is usually 25 years – [read up the Criminal Code of Canada]), then what leads anyone to believe that some disabled kid should be killed? I mean, violent criminals do much more destruction, and certainly deserve A LOT MORE punishment, right?

  10. V Jones says:

    Make one non-supportive comment about the homosexual lifestyle, that’s considered hate-speech. Disapproval of any highly-funded group, if not already, will become a punishable crime. And, the suspect would have already been found. So, suggesting that this boy should be sent to the woods or killed, is not a hate-crime, oh yes, that’s fair.

  11. Marcy Ryan says:

    I am angry and insulted, as a disabled peer this child deserves all the love, care and respect that any the “normals” are supposed to get. The fact that we are disabled makes us no less human and no less hurt by such insults. I am severely physically disabled and facially disfigured, this has made my life difficult by has not kept me from using my abilities to serve my peers. I run a business and work with many others of many disabilities that off their gifts to our world. The person who wrote this letter should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law before they take the next step and hurt this child themselves!!

  12. Julia says:

    The fact that this “mother” mentioned “science” speaks to the the quiet agreement with some type of casual eugenics. The thoughts from the turn of the century until after WWII eugenics was promoted by prominent “scientists,” political leaders, and eventually the semi-educated class. It is like a rumor never stamped out of many minds of people who lived during those years and their children. Refuting eugenics needs to be a requirement of schools for a few generations in order to stamp out this cruel ignorance. Recomended reading: GENETIC DIVERSITY and the FALLACY of EUGENICS
    Pseudoscience in general is rife in society, especially those with some college education. “A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.” Alexander Pope—The rest of the poem further addresses how a deep drink of knowledge will sober you up to realize how little you know.

    She also has that most common of reactions: someone “different” is feared. I hope they catch her and give her some instruction and legal penalties.

  13. David Snow says:

    The “one pissed off mother” who wrote “He is a hinderance to everyone,” needs compassion which is very difficult to do. Not my first reaction, however and I am not sure that I could actually provide any compassion for her. The Nazi’s tried this ‘solution’ way back when as Julia mentions in the first posting which gave rise to eugenics. Hate breeds hate.

  14. Rylin Mariel says:

    What an ugly mind! It takes an ugly mind to think and say things like that! The even sadder thing is that she will raise her own kids to perpetuate her prejudices.

  15. Karla says:

    I am also a mother of a person with a disability…….and I am so glad to hear that the community rallied around the parents of this boy to stand up to someone that doesn’t understand and probably doesn’t count their own blessings that they didn’t have a child with a disability. It is sad that someone can think so horribly………..I would not want to be that woman when she meets her maker………

  16. Joan says:

    I am A mother of An Autistic Son . I am deeply saddened and very much angered by whoever wrote that letter. The Person who wrote this letter should be criminally charged with threats to do bodily harm. I have
    experienced people’s nasty looks, and ignorance regarding my sons disability. In The Boston Public Sc hools, Boston Ma USA ,their are staff including teaching staff that get frustruated with disabled students, and are not very well trained with students with autism. This causes kids to be a risk.

  17. gordon says:

    if anyone said “Do the right thing and move or euthanize him.” about any black persons child. it would be considered a hate crime! why isn’t this considered a hate crime! law enforcement is just adding to the problem! they need to pull there heads out of you know where and get this hateful subhuman slime!

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