Consistent Uncertainties

Never underestimate your power to heal with a kind smile or hurt with a simple word.

A Dreadful Affair

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If you have been following the story of the double homicide of Paula Menendez and Julie Crocker, you’ll no doubt have some thoughts of your own on it. It’s very difficult not to be the judge and jury on a case such as this. Was this man so desperate to prove his wife’s affair and too devastated to know right from wrong? Was it a case of him being a victim of a sociopathic spouse and just snapping one day? Was he the sociopath? Read this excerpt from a Toronto newspaper and fill yourself in with some of the details.

Rick Ralph came home Monday to learn his girlfriend of a few months, Julie Crocker, 33, was dead. The lifeless body of his estranged wife Paula Menendez, 34, was found nearby.

Their bodies were found in Crocker’s Markham home. There are no reports that the two dead women knew each other. Crocker and Menendez led separate lives, but it’s clear their lives were intertwined.

Ralph and Crocker had been dating for a few months. Ralph and Menendez had just separated. Crocker had recently separated from her husband, Chris Little.

“The relationships play an important part in the homicides,” said Insp. Bill Faulkner, head of the York Region police homicide bureau. “There were complicated relationships.”

A 911 call around 3:30 a.m. led police to the quiet, brick house and straight to the bodies of the two women. Crocker, a sales executive was found stabbed to death inside. Her two young daughters Madison, 4, and Mackenzie, 3, were believed to be found nearby. Some reports say the girls slept through the slayings. Menendez, a Toronto physiotherapist, was found dead in the garage. An autopsy released yesterday said Menendez was strangled and Crocker was stabbed in the neck.

At first the story began to unfold like a grisly murder-suicide. Quickly, the plot turned to a double murder. Late Monday afternoon, police arrested Crocker’s estranged husband, the father of her children, in connection with the homicides.

Chris Little, 35,  is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

He is described by his wife’s friends as an “exemplary” husband, who volunteered his time on committees to bolster the Markham Fair. Police sources said the father of two maintains his innocence and remains tight-lipped.

However, they said Little claims that he arrived at Crocker’s house in the wee hours of Monday morning and called 911 when he found the bodies.

Police investigators are also keeping quiet as they try to piece together details of the puzzling case. Among the mysteries they would like to dispel: how Menendez got to Crocker’s two-storey house.

While officers won’t confirm she was abducted from her house on Haliburton Ave. in the Kipling Ave.- Rathburn Rd. area, her car still sits in the driveway.Her belongings are still inside her house. Menendez left the home sometime between 8 p.m. Sunday and 3:30 a.m. Monday, police say. “We feel that Ms. Menendez left her residence in a very hurried manner,” said Faulkner of the York Region police.

Police couldn’t identify the second body found at Crocker’s home until they received a call from one of Menendez’s co-workers at around 10:30 a.m. Monday reporting that the physiotherapist had not shown up for work.

Officers said three forensics teams scoured three crime scenes yesterday: Crocker’s home, Menendez’s home and the Graydon Hall apartment in Toronto where Little lives.

Police are appealing for witnesses. They’re asking anyone who spotted Little’s grey GMC Envoy, or saw something suspicious near any of the properties, to come forward.

“We’re trying to track the movements of everyone involved in this,” Faulkner said.

What the two 30-somethings have in common is that they were both recently separated from spouses and they had both been involved with Ralph.

A later newspaper story:

Chris Little has since plead not guilt to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the two women. He and Crocker had been married for 10 years and had two young daughters. Julie Crocker had been having an affair with Toronto sportscaster Rick Ralph for several months before her death. Paula Menendez was Ralph’s estranged wife. On the stand he said that he wanted to work things out with his wife despite what he believed were her numerous acts of infidelity. Little said he was looking for proof of her affair with Ralph, which she had previously denied having. “I didn’t want a relationship with Julie having another relationship on the side. I wanted an exclusive relationship with my wife,” Little said. He calmly admitted to buying a kit to test for traces of semen on Crocker’s clothes. He also admitted to installing a GPS device in Crocker’s car.

He caught Crocker and Ralph in their family home together shortly after their separation in the summer of 2006. “After finding Julie and Rick together in the house, everything was out in the open. All the truth came out — it was basically Julie making a conscious decision of Rick versus me.”

Little only appeared to show emotion when speaking about how hard his separation with his wife was on one of his daughters. Little broke down at that point and had to take a couple minutes to recompose himself.

For the last six weeks the Crown built a case depicting Little as an obsessive husband who killed his wife and Ms. Menendez in a jealous rage.

Compelling as it is in its’ dynamics; it is equally horrifying to see how lives and marriages can be sacrificed so easily. Whoever is to blame; it is a horrific crime, of that we can readily see. Murder is wrong. What events led up to this? Is it possible that Julie could have had other lovers in the past that had an axe to grind who knew the situation well enough to use it to frame an innocent man? Or is this “innocent until proven guilty” man hiding behind a facade of goodness that we know a sociopath is capable of? We are also apt to forget that there were other factors at work behind the scenes that we may never be privy too. Was there any emotional abuse issues in the marriage by either party? How did they interact? Did it appear that they had a happy marriage while they were together? Does a yes to this last question imply that Chris may have been so broad-sided by the affair that he took matters into his own hands? So many questions….but one thing I CAN see clearly is that the affair did it’s share of damage; much more than anyone clearly was aware of or cared about. In the midst of all the dizzying facts that the police and prosecutors will have to sort out is the fact that an affair of the heart without honestly to the partner involved was the beginning of the end.


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