'I wanted to die,' recalls former prisoner charged in Sault murder
by Bob Vaillancourt, published on August 10, 2010 in The Sudbury Star and August 11, 2010, in The Sault Star.
The violence and disturbing atmosphere of a federal penitentiary caused John Moore to contemplate taking his own life, he told a group of people on the front lawn of the Sudbury District Jail on Monday.
The gathering, led by the John Howard Society of Sudbury, was marking Prisoner Justice Day, a day set aside to remember the men and women who have died while serving time in jails, reformatories and federal penitentiaries.
Moore, who was convicted in the June 30, 1978, death of taxi driver Donald Lanthier in Sault Ste. Marie, has been spending every waking moment since that conviction seeking exoneration, saying he had nothing to do with the death.
He has said he was simply a taxi driver who happened to pick up a fare that turned out to be Lanthier's killers. [Please note that this is not actually what John says -- he was never a taxi driver. However, his conviction is based purely on having spent time earlier that day with the men who actually did kill Lanthier.
Moore was placed on parole in 1988 after serving 10 years.
Most of that time, he said Monday, was spent at Millhaven "a super maximum" facility that no one escapes from, particularly in broad daylight.
But Moore was so demoralized by his situation, that's exactly what he tried to do, anticipating that he would be fatally shot in the process.
He decided to escape by scaling the two perimeter fences at the facility.
"I didn't want to be in that environment. I wanted to die," he said on Monday. "It didn't turn out that way.
"I got over both fences without getting shot because that's what they do, they shoot, then they ask questions and then they put their reports in. But that day God must have been looking over me because I never got shot.
"It was like a spiritual awakening because if I could do that in broad daylight without getting shot, then somebody was watching over me," said Moore.
After he scaled the second, 25-foot high fence, Moore said he twisted his ankle and was soon apprehended by a guard who caught up with him.
It's good that a day is set aside to draw attention to the violence that can exist inside a penal institution, said Moore.
No one wants that violence, but it is there, said John Rimore of the John Howard Society.
No matter where they come from, or what they have done, the men and women behind bars deserve our support, said Colette Bezeau, a volunteer with the Elizabeth Fry Society.
Prisoner Justice Day "is a day to acknowledge that all of them were and are a part of our society," she said.