Soldier Charged With Attempted Murder Of Her 3 Children After Setting Fire To Home

Trigger warning: violence

Chantal Condie, a corporal at CFB Edmonton in Canada, has been charged with the attempted murder of her three children after setting fire to her home while they were asleep inside. The 41-year old, who was charged last month, faces two counts of arson and three counts of attempted murder in connection with a house fire at the base on July 20, 2015.

Her ex-husband, Drew Condie, who is also a member of the armed forces, is prevented from speaking publicly about the case, though he is convinced that his perseverance forced military police to undertake a criminal investigation after they initially determined the fire was accidental. On behalf of his three children, Drew Condie has filed a lawsuit against his ex-wife for more than $540,000.

“It should not have been buried,” said Catherine Christensen, Drew Condie’s attorney. “It should have been thoroughly investigated at the time. We started asking questions. We started drawing attention to it.”

The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed the military police investigation was closed without charges but reopened after new evidence was presented. According to the civil suit, which was filed earlier this year, Drew and Chantal were getting divorced at the time of the incident. Drew had been awarded primary custody of the three children, which was set to begin on July 24, 2015 after they returned from a week-long summer camp.

The lawsuit claims that Chantal withdrew the children from camp, saying they were ill and took them instead to Fantasyland Hotel in West Edmonton Mall for three nights. “This ‘great’ weekend was in preparation for the defendant’s ultimate plan of killing them and herself through fire,” the claim states.

After she returned to the base with the children, she gave them NyQuil to put them to sleep and then set fire to the home. When the oldest child, then 10, woke up to the smell of smoke, his mother ordered him back to bed. “She told him that it was wildfire smoke and to go back to sleep,” Christensen said. “He chose to instead get his younger brother and younger sister out through the second-story window onto the roof of the entryway into the house. To me, he’s a hero.”

According to the lawsuit, a neighbor saw the children at the window and brought a ladder to help them escape. Meanwhile, Chantal remained inside, unconscious, and was rescued by another neighbor. The lawsuit also alleges that Chantal removed and disabled the smoke detectors before sending a suicide letter with $10,000 to an unidentified man, whose wife later handed the letter over to police. The insurance company that investigated the blaze found three smoke detectors hidden in a bag in Chantal’s basement, the claim says.

In a statement, Chantal denies the claims and says it was her ex-husband or one of the kids who set fire to the home. She also denies writing a suicide note or leaving money to anyone, alleging that Drew has a history of mental illness, alcohol dependency and violence towards her and the children.

Drew acknowledges that he was charged with assaulting his daughter in 2012, but the charge was eventually withdrawn, and he agreed to a peace bond. Christensen said Drew lived in “terror” for nearly a month after the fire, when Chantal was granted unsupervised visitation rights. “I can’t imagine the anguish that he had every time his children went to spend unsupervised time with their mother,” she said.

Christensen said she will fight to end Chantal’s supervised visits and questioned why the corporal is still in uniform at CFB Edmonton. “The member is currently back to work,” said Capt. Bonnie Wilken, a spokesperson with the Canadian Armed Forces. “The member has been restricted from accessing weapons.”

“The Canadian Armed Forces is a responsible organization,” Wilken said in a statement. “If one of our members is convicted of a serious crime, that person will be held accountable for their actions.”

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Christensen, who specializes in representing military personnel, said the inconsistencies in this case have shaken her confidence. “The military justice system has come under criticism the last few years and this is, to me, just another example of, ‘Well, if we don’t want to deal with it, we’ll just bury it.'”

Chantal, who has been granted bail, is scheduled to appear in court on the attempted murder and arson charges today.

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