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Mother says she asked Ont. police to investigate alleged poison seller before multiple deaths

WARNING: This story contains discussion of suicide

An alleged poison seller with suspected links to more than 20 deaths could have been stopped a full year sooner, according to a mother who nearly lost her daughter.

The woman in northwestern Ontario says multiple lives could have been saved if provincial police had better probed her daughter’s April 2022 suicide attempt.

“I asked them to investigate,” the mother told CBC News. “But they questioned me instead.”

CBC has agreed not to identify the woman or her 22-year-old daughter due to the sensitive topic.

The mother blames Kenneth Law, of Mississauga, Ont., for supplying her daughter with a toxic substance to take her own life. But she also accuses officers of not asking questions that could have led them to Law a year before his arrest.

“When I started connecting the dots,” she said in a recent interview, “I kept thinking, [the police] should have done this last year.”

Kenneth Law is seen outside the Mississauga, Ont. pharmacy where a post office box is linked to him.
Kenneth Law is seen outside the Mississauga, Ont. pharmacy where a post office box is linked to him. (The Times/News Licensing)

Law was arrested last month and charged with counselling or aiding suicide in connection with two deaths in Toronto’s suburbs. Peel Regional Police allege he operated businesses that distributed and marketed a potentially lethal substance to individuals at risk of self-harm. 

The sprawling investigation now involves 11 Ontario police agencies, plus international authorities from the U.S. to Australia and Interpol. 

After the April 2022 incident with her daughter, the mother said Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) seized the envelope that was used to mail the poison, but asked few questions until they returned to her home last month. 

CBC News has seen a credit card receipt showing a $106.90 PayPal payment in April 2022 to EscMode, a now-defunct website that investigators have linked to Law. The mother said she recently provided the receipt to police after learning of the connection. 

Customs declaration label, used by one of Kenneth Law's companies after a customer in Britain ordered sodium nitrite, describes the contents as "preservative: sodium salt."
A customs declaration label, used by one of Law’s companies after a customer in Britain ordered sodium nitrite, describes the contents as ‘preservative: sodium salt.’ (Submitted)

Law, 57, remains in custody, pending a bail hearing on Friday. He has denied the allegations against him. The charges have not been tested in court.

Official records, online posts, media reports and interviews with families point to more than 20 deaths suspected of being connected to Law’s products in Canada and abroad. Peel police have said they’re looking into 1,200 packages sent to 40 countries.

CBC is aware of six of those deaths that occurred in the year between the young woman’s suicide attempt in northwestern Ontario in April 2022 and Law’s arrest last month. They include the suicides of an unnamed adult near Toronto, an Italian woman and a teenage boy in Pennsylvania. 

Twenty-year-old Noelle Ramirez, of Montrose, Colo., died in March.

“My daughter should still be here,” said Noelle’s father, David Ramirez. “I think she ran into a person who was more than willing to coach her through this and sell her the product.”

Police “could have saved all those lives if they would have started an investigation last year,” the mother in northwestern Ontario alleges. She said investigators recently told her family the youngest person known to have purchased Law’s products was 15 years old.

She said she suspected officers dismissed her daughter’s close call as an opioid overdose, given the prevalence of toxic drugs in the region. 

Police asked questions a year later

Around 4 a.m. on April 27, 2022, the Ontario mother said she heard screams in her home. She ran to her daughter’s bedroom to find her on the floor, suffering seizures and vomiting. Within minutes, the daughter’s face and lips were turning white.

“The only way I knew she was still living while I was on the phone with 911 was she kept squeezing my hand,” the mother recalled.

She said an ambulance arrived 20 minutes later and rushed her daughter to the local hospital in their small town. The young woman was given an antidote for sodium nitrite intoxication and survived.

A closeup of a white plastic package. The label reads in part "Imtime Cuisine... sodium nitrate."
A package is shown here from Imtime Cuisine, one of the companies linked to Law. (Supplied by Peel Regional Police)

Sodium nitrite is commonly used in food preparation, such as to cure meats, but can be lethal when ingested in pure form. A photo released by police shows Law sold his product in a packet marked “99.999 per cent pure.”

The mother said OPP investigators knocked on her door last month and asked to speak with her daughter. She told them about the source of the substance, and how she’d heard about its availability online, the mother said.

The OPP declined to comment on the April 2022 incident. Peel police have said they began looking into Law after a death in the region this past March. Weeks later, the U.K.’s Times of London first reported on suicides connected to Law’s businesses.

British police twice last year reached out to Law regarding the suicides of Neha Raju and Tom Parfett, both near London, but investigators declined to pursue charges at the time. 

If the Peel police investigation leads to new evidence “that criminally implicates Kenneth Law,” Cst. Tyler Bell-Morena said, “then he would be subject to additional charges.” 

If you have a news tip related to this story, contact CBC News senior reporter Thomas Daigle by email:

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