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First-degree murder charges laid against prospective adoptive parents of boy found dead in Burlington, Ont. home: police

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Police say first-degree murder charges have now been laid against the prospective adoptive parents of a 12-year-old boy who was found dead at a home in Burlington more than a year ago.

According to police, officers and other emergency personnel were called to a residence in Burlington shortly before 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2022. A 12-year-old boy was found without vital signs and was pronounced dead a short time later.

Police said a “lengthy investigation” followed and on Feb. 29, 2024, the child’s prospective adoptive parents were arrested.

In a news release, investigators said Becky Hamber, 44, of Burlington, and 42-year-old Brandy Cooney, of Hamilton, have been charged with first-degree murder and failure to provide the necessaries of life.

Both of the accused were held for a bail hearing on March 1st, police said.

Investigators said the accused were also the prospective adoptive parents to a younger sibling of the deceased child, who was living in the home in December 2022.

Following an investigation in relation to the younger sibling, police said the two accused were charged in January 2023 with assault, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement, failure to provide the necessaries of life, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

None of the charges haven been tested in court.

In a statement, Janice Robinson, the executive director of the Halton Children's Aid Society, said the organization is "cooperating fully" with the police investigation.

"Upon learning of the death of an Indigenous child in our care on December 21, 2022, our organization was devastated," the statement read.

"We immediately conducted an internal review and we engaged an independent third-party reviewer to examine child safety and adherence to standards. We have been absolutely committed to learning everything we can about what happened in this case."

The statement went on to say that the safety and wellbeing of the children in its care is the organization's top priority.

"Our profound thoughts and condolences continue to be with the family and the Indigenous community," the statement continued. 

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