Parents grapple with fallout from body-part delivery

Parents in Vancouver are either sheltering their kids from knowledge that a human hand and foot were mailed to two local schools or telling them the truth about a twisted person’s actions.

VANCOUVER — Parents in Vancouver are either sheltering their kids from knowledge that a human hand and foot were mailed to two local schools or telling them the truth about a twisted person’s actions.

At False Creek Elementary School, Dave Brown said Wednesday he told his daughter the truth after a package containing a hand arrived at the school on Tuesday afternoon.

“She knows that somebody was killed and that the body was dismembered and part of it ended up here and that there are some people in this world that are not coping well with reality and doing some crazy, sick, twisted stuff like that,” he said.

Brown said it was important for him to tell his daughter the truth, but it frightened her.

“There was a moment, I think, at first, of fear and then there was sort of a dawning of acceptance. That didn’t take very long, and then I think what followed was her basically saying, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of sick, twisted people in the world.”’

But Eva Perjes said she doesn’t want her two kids — in Grades 2 and 3 — knowing anything about human remains showing up in a package at the school and hopes they don’t find out about the incident from older kids.

“It’s hard because I really want to shelter them from this news. Even for adults, I don’t want to hear it,” Perjes said.

“I did talk to my neighbour, and my husband, obviously, and he’s actually a teacher so he was devastated. It’s awful, awful.

“It’s just the impact on kids and the innocence that’s taken away, that someone … I don’t want to say it.”

As she spoke, about a dozen students huddled around a girl in the school yard as she showed them the front page of a newspaper with a story about a hand being sent to their school and a foot that was mailed to a private school.

Nearby, administrators handed out letters to parents on how they could help kids cope with “the difficult time at False Creek Elementary.”

The letter said parents should limit children’s exposure to media coverage and to be aware if they are watching anything about it on TV or the Internet.

Mariette Smith said she took the morning off to be with her Grade 4 twin boys, to walk them to school and make them feel safe.

“I was shocked and horrified because it’s such a safe community. It’s unnerving.”

Smith said she told her kids that a human hand was mailed to the school and that they were shocked.

“I just don’t want them to think there are people lurking around.”

Montreal police say the human remains were mailed from that city, where a Chinese man studying at a university was killed and dismembered and a hand and foot were sent to the headquarters of the Conservative and Liberal parties.

Kurt Heinrich of the Vancouver School Board said counsellors would be at the schools.

“The older kids might have more questions, the younger kids might have less. It’s going to be a case-by-case basis in terms of what we’re going to be doing in classrooms today.”

At St. George’s, a private school for boys, headmaster Tom Matthews said in a letter posted on the facility’s website that teachers have been briefed on how to provide students with appropriate information about the incident.

“We reiterate that there is no reason to believe any direct connection exists between St. George’s and the case under investigation in Montreal,” he said.

Matthews said early Tuesday evening, he met with students who are boarding at the school to ensure they felt supported there.

He said security at the school is paramount and has been increased, “particularly to ensure that media presence is minimized on campus.”

“We do understand that the media have been attempting to contact some of you for quotes and we will do our best to contain this.”

He also urged parents to tell their sons to “refrain from speaking about or speculating on this matter to anyone” or posting comments on social media sites.

The suspect in the killing of Lin, 29-year-old Luka Rocco Magnotta, was arrested in Berlin on Monday and is expected to be extradited.