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Published March 1, 2024

Prospective adoptive parents charged with murder of boy in Burlington

The prospective adoptive parents of a 12-year-old boy who was found dead in a Burlington, Ont., home more than a year ago have been charged with first-degree murder, police said Thursday. 

Halton Regional Police said emergency crews responded to a residence in Burlington on Dec. 21, 2022, and found the boy without vital signs. He was pronounced dead a short time later. 

Police said the child’s prospective adoptive parents were arrested on Thursday after a lengthy investigation. 

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

Police said the two accused were also the prospective adoptive parents of a younger sibling of the child who died, and that younger child was also living in the home in December 2022. 

Investigators said the accused had been 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 in relation to the younger sibling. 

Janice Robinson, executive director of Halton Children’s Aid Society, said the 12-year-old boy who died was Indigenous and had been in her organization's care. 

"Our organization was devastated," she wrote in a statement. 

"We immediately conducted an internal review and we engaged an independent third-party reviewer to examine child safety and adherence to standards."

Robinson said her organization is helping the police investigation. 

"We are co-operating fully with the ongoing investigation by Halton Regional Police Service," she said. "Our profound thoughts and condolences continue to be with the family and the Indigenous community."

Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Buchan

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2024.

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