Man Kills Prostitute, Gets Less Than 2 Years. What the FUCK?

by Isabel

The day after admitting he killed a woman and dumped her body on a rural road, a St. Catharines, Ont., man was released from jail.

Judge Stephen Glithero sentenced Wayne Ryczak, 55, to one day in jail on Thursday for the death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.

The one-day sentence is in addition to time Ryczak already served since his March 5, 2007, arrest — time the judge said was equivalent to 30 months.

“Devastated, we’re devastated,” Beck’s mother, Alice Dort, said from her home in Nova Scotia shortly after a police detective broke the news by phone. “This is just so unbelievable.” “There’s no justice. None whatsoever. I’m just so disgusted.”

The Crown asked for seven to 10 years in jail.

Ryczak’s lawyer requested two years less a day to be served in the community.

After deliberating for 20 minutes, Glithero said a 30-month sentence in the penitentiary would be appropriate and Ryczak had already served it. Ryczak was also given three years’ probation.

Exactly what I needed to wake up to. Thanks, Canada!

This is fucking disgusting. A 30-month sentence is appropriate for killing a woman? Sure, if she has sex for money! After all, if you ladies happen to think you can do whatever you want with that vagina of yours, you deserve whatever it is that you get.

Fuck, I am so angry.

Update 05/17 (matttbastard): Ontario NDP Calls for Ontario AG to appeal 1 day sentence:

The Ontario NDP is calling on the attorney general to appeal the one-day sentence of a St. Catharines, Ont. man who plead guilty this week to manslaughter in the strangling death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.


New Democratic Party Justice Critic Peter Kormos, in an open letter to Attorney General Chris Bentley, called on the province to ensure the sentence is appealed immediately.

“I tell you, sir, that the community is outraged,” Kormos wrote in his letter. “How can this sentence of one day, and it can barely be called a sentence, be justified?”

h/t pale via IM

Update 2 (matttbastard): From The St Catharines Standard:

“They just dismissed [Stephine Beck’s] life with that sentence,” said Dee Holman, a member of the community’s sex-trade task force. “They minimized her death.”


Holman said the sentencing made Ryczak appear to be the victim and minimized his use of drugs and prostitutes.

“(Beck) will never have a chance to get her drug and alcohol counselling,” Holman said. “Her life is gone.”

In sentencing Ryczak Thursday, Judge Stephen Glithero said he was not measuring the value of Beck’s life. “All life is valuable to us as a community,” he said.

He noted there were people in the courtroom for Wednesday’s plea hearing wearing T-shirts that read, “Sex work shouldn’t equal murder.”

“This was not a case whatsoever of anyone preying on a sex-trade worker,” Glithero said.


But Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada, which is in favour of legalizing prostitution, said a victim’s lifestyle is factored into court decisions.

“It happens all the time,” she said. “The laws against sex work continue to tell people that we’re disposable. It’s OK to kill us and murder us.”

The Ryczak sentencing puts the “gold seal of approval” on those actions, she said.

“If this were anyone else, it wouldn’t have gone down like that in court.”

Update 3 05/18 (matttbastard): Via ange @ light my heart on fire (all emphases mine):

Unfortunately, the case of Stephine Beck is not an anomaly. Within the last decade, six other women involved in sex work and living with substance abuse problems have been found murdered in the Niagara Region: Dawn Stewart, 32; Nadine Gurczenski, 26; Diane Dimitri, 33; Margaret Jugaru, 26; Cassey Cichocki, 22, and most recently, Shari Bacon, 36. Although the Niagara Regional Police convened a task force in 2007 and have since made one other arrest, Glithero’s sentence is reflective of a community-wide failure to value and protect the lives of some of the region’s most vulnerable citizens. The St. Catharines Standard routinely runs articles about “hookers loyal to their drug problems” (6 March, 2007) while the police department justifies its regular sweeping arrests of prostitutes (and subsequent public naming in The Standard, which does not report the names of men arrested for domestic abuse) by claiming that if you take away the supply, demand will vanish (July 2007). This appalling disdain for and ignorance of the realities and risks faced by sex workers is all the more horrifying when compared to the hysteria and moral outrage expressed by the entire Niagara community during and after the arrests, trials and verdicts of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. That Homolka’s plea bargain was considered a deal with the devil while Ryczak was set free immediately upon pleading guilty is shameful and hypocritical, and reflects a clear double standard when it comes to which lives are valued and which are not.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

51 thoughts on “Man Kills Prostitute, Gets Less Than 2 Years. What the FUCK?

  1. Obviously none of you continued to read the article. The defendant claimed he acted in self defense after the victim illegally entered his home and attacked him. The crown couldn’t prove that this wasn’t the case.

    His defense may very well be bs and he could have just gotten off scott free–it happens–but for the sake of argument let’s accept it as the truth. Do any of you still believe the sentence was outrageously lenient for an act of self defense?


  2. If he was acting in self defense what reasons did he have to wrap her up in blanket and dispose of her body. This is unacceptable.


  3. If he was acting in self defense what reasons did he have to wrap her up in blanket and dispose of her body.

    Based on the article I don’t think it’s unfair to say that this guy is a f-up from the word go. His capacity to act in a rational manner seems shaky at best so it’s not really surprising he reacted by hoping the problem would just go away.


  4. His defense may very well be bs and he could have just gotten off scott free–it happens–but for the sake of argument let’s accept it as the truth. Do any of you still believe the sentence was outrageously lenient for an act of self defense?

    I know! Let’s completely forget what the post is about and talk about something else instead, because that’s the only way I can possibly make it less than completely fucking obvious that all I’m here to do is blame a murder victim for having been murdered!


  5. Lets assume it was self defense. Let’s assume that he wrapped her body up and disposed of it because he was in oh so much distress.

    other way: He killed her and dumped her body off like so much trash.

    It’s his word against hers. She can’t speak ever again, so its his word only that was taken. That’s convenient.

    But in the long term…..It’s so nice that he is free to walk the streets again. That makes me feel oh so much better.

    Meanwhile: People spend far more time in jail for property theft. This was a “hooker” however. Not as worthy as a TV or a bunch of jewlery. Ah well. too bad, so sad.


  6. just an amazing (read as fucked up) example of how some people’s lives are more valuable.


    but seriously, what do we expect from a culture where killing prostitutes in a video game is “just fun”.

    oy w/ the poodles already


  7. other way: He killed her and dumped her body off like so much trash.

    That’s certainly possible but the “potentially lethal doses of cocaine” in her system leads me to give credibility to the idea that the defendant was acting in self defense.


  8. That’s certainly possible but the “potentially lethal doses of cocaine” in her system leads me to give credibility to the idea that the defendant was acting in self defense.

    Yes, the poor darling. Who knows what that drug-addled whore would have done to him!

    30. Months.

    Do you honestly believe that he would have received a similar sentence if Stephine Beck wasn’t a sex trade worker? And do you honestly believe that 30 months is an appropriate sentence, considering Ryczak conspired to cover up his actions?

    Or are you just being a contrarian douche for shits and giggles?


  9. On the one hand, I think that Robert is right about how little our courts can do with evidence like this, and I think we have to be very careful before we toss out the safeguards, even if we think that we’re letting one clear case go free.

    On the other, I found the judge’s assessment of Ryczak disgustingly pious, given his own history and given what he did with a dead body.

    Famous last words:

    “We’ll never see Wayne in the justice system again.”



  10. Do you honestly believe that he would have received a similar sentence if Stephine Beck wasn’t a sex trade worker?


    And do you honestly believe that 30 months is an appropriate sentence, considering Ryczak conspired to cover up his actions?

    I can’t say since I don’t have more than a few details on the case and lack any precedents to judge it by. What I can say is that it’s not outrageously appalling like everyone here is claiming. My only gripe would be on the silly notion that 14 months served pretrial satisfies a 30 month sentence.


  11. On the one hand, I think that Robert is right about how little our courts can do with evidence like this, and I think we have to be very careful before we toss out the safeguards, even if we think that we’re letting one clear case go free.

    The length of the sentence seems to be what’s in question, though. 30 months (well, 14, if you want to get technical, but apparently they use speshul maths in St Kitts) doesn’t seem remotely appropriate in light of Ryczak’s cover-up attempt.

    McLelland may have faith in the fairness of this sentence, but it seems fairly apparent that the court deemed Stephine Beck to be disposable, and took that into account when sentencing Ryczak–and yes, I do find the circumstances appalling.

    But, hey, YMMV.


  12. It’s hard to take the argument that maybe things really went as Ryczak said and this woman attacked him in his home when:

    * Prostitutes are murdered under similar circumstances relatively frequently (no one else to witness the event)

    * Murderers will produce stories that put them in the best possible light

    * Murderers who kill prostitutes historically get off with lighter sentences than murderers who kill women who aren’t involved in prostitution.

    And I don’t care how terrified you are after you kill someone in self defense, I would like to understand why it is necessary to partially or completely strip the body before trying to hide it in the woods, on the side of the road, whatever.


  13. If it were determined by the courts to be self defense there would be no sentence. He was determined to be guilty and received no further time than that served. twelve months morphed into thirty months and that was deemed enough for killing a person who already had a lethal dose of drugs in her system. I guess she didn’t die fast enough from the drug, so he hurried her along.
    I expect we will be hearing from him again, now that he knows what works.


  14. Ummmm … Since when were people on the left talking about length of sentence as any sort of rational response to any crime at all?

    This is starting to bother me. I’m not here for the joy of punishing someone else. I don’t believe in punishment, not one iota. And I don’t have a lot of faith in our prison systems.

    Of course I recognize that a life has been not only taken here, then defiled, and then devalued by our justice system, mainly because the dead woman was a woman and then she was a sex worker.

    But you think that banging your fists on the table for a longer jail term for the guy who can’t even be convicted cleanly on the evidence is any serious way to address that problem?

    I have to disagree. And I disagree because I worry about what could happen to any of us when the other team starts making loose observations about what we look like or what they suspect about us. I also think that our prison system is foul, and two wrongs never make a right.


  15. But you think that banging your fists on the table for a longer jail term for the guy who can’t even be convicted cleanly on the evidence is any serious way to address that problem?

    But it’s the context, and what it symbolically represents. I don’t believe a longer sentence is an answer to anything. But, considering the justice system we have now (not the ideal one that we would like to have), the dehumanization of Stephine Beck that seems apparent in the lax sentence handed down by the judge is glaring.

    Maybe the justice in question is against harsh sentencing in general, and his decision isn’t indicative of a crass disregard for the humanity of sex trade workers. But, if you ask actual sex trade workers, it fits an all-too-familiar pattern.

    So, for now, can we leave aside the chastisement of leftists who aren’t pure enough in their values? I don’t see how being appalled by what seems to many to be an unfair disparity is akin to banging ones fists, as you characterize it. What this decision says about the value of sex trade workers–of women who don’t fit the ‘preferred ideal’–to society is the primary issue, and that, to me, is one entirely separate from our broken adversarial lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key justice system (or perhaps we’re looking at a different aspect of the failure of the system than what Robert is focusing on.)


  16. Dude, if you have examples of these particular liberals bitching about jail sentences, then your point would be relevant. As it is, a man has murdered a woman in cold blood, walked away from it and you want to whine about the injustice of….the left.


  17. mattt, I hope you know that I recognize and believe that this happened to Stephine Beck first because she was a woman and second because she was a sex worker.

    I think we should keep her at the centre of our conversations, btw.

    I also recognize and believe that our justice system responds badly to these cases, in the first place whenever the victim is a woman, and then disastrously badly when the victim is a sex worker.

    But mattt, I still want the protections of the justice system we have managed to claw our way to so far. It has been so bloody hard to get here, and I do not want to see it compromised, nor do I want to see the left destroying protections we need, that any accused needs, nor do I want to see the left celebrating our current systems of incarceration.

    I don’t know yet what to do or say to honour Stephine Beck, but I will try to think about that tonight, and I promise to write something tomorrow.


  18. I think–think–I understand where you’re coming from.

    I hope you also understand (actually, scratch “hope”–you obviously understand first hand all too well) the anger and frustration that something like this–a reminder to women, especially women who don’t fit the expected paradigm, where they stand within society–engenders.


  19. Robert, I did read the article. His claim of self defense loses credibility for a few reasons.

    1: dumping her body
    2: the fact it was partially unclothed.
    3: She was strangled to death


  20. I don’t see any calls to destroy the protections the justice system has in place for the accused in this thread.

    On the other hand, there are [i]patterns[/i], when it comes to accusing, convicting, and sentencing people who have murdered [i]certain kinds[/i] of people. Patterns that imply that these people are less valuable, are disposable.

    Would this change if or when we could reform the justice system? I think this is a core problem that permeates society, and I don’t think saying “this is unjust,” and “this is wrong” and expressing real anger over it is quite the same thing as cheering on the current criminal justice system without reservation. If anything, I would say that it’s definitely a criticism of that justice system.


  21. bewilderness is right. Self-defence is not the issue here. It’s a complete defence and if this guy had been successful with that, he wouldn’t have been convicted at all. That’s the way it works. What’s happened here is that the fact that the woman was drugged up and that the Court had no reason to disbelieve that she had attacked the guy, that was a mitigating factor in sentencing.

    HOWEVER, it seems unlikely that he “accidentally” caused death by strangulation. I just find that impossible to believe. It takes a great deal of force over a fairly extended period of time to perform a “successful” strangulation.

    Also, being scared and freaked out doesn’t fit very well with having the ability to formulate a plan to get rid of a body and carry that plan out. That takes some “cool”. There IS time to think.

    I absolutely agree that we are stuck in a hard place when we look like we’re arguing for longer criminal sentences but in all good faith, I can’t really see that anyone here is doing that. Fact remains, if this was a woman who “accidentally” strangled her abusive husband and dumped his body by the roadside, whadday wanna bet she’d have been charged with first degree murder? Happens every day. I have a law prof friend who’s attending a murder trial in Ottawa right now in exactly that sitch. FIRST DEGREE because she got her kid out of the way before she stabbed the bastard (oops, sorry mattt) seven times, which was six times too many as far as the Crown was concerned. Now IMHO that seems much more likely to have been a “crime of passion” since having an angry stabbing attack is easier for me to imagine than having an angry strangulation hands -squeezing- the- life -out -of -someone -while -waiting -for- several -minutes -to -make -sure -they’re- dead attack.

    Which I might have now …


  22. suspect: charged Murder 1. possible serial. claims self defense. guy weighs 300 lbs
    victim: female (smaller?) pregnant. strangled. partly naked. dumped on roadside.

    Claims woman attacked when he entered his trailer. at 3:30 am. On Sunday morning. Guy who “lives, eats, and sleeps” his job. Says he “grabbed her by the throat and pushed her to the couch, where she collapsed”. One assumes he would let go then: if not, it’s not self defense. Her injuries, which were “consistent with being held against a firm surface”, also contradict his story, as does her blood being on his potted plant.
    “When he checked her nose, she wasn’t breathing.” It’s unlikely she’d be dead at that point, but after he: didn’t give her first aid; didn’t call 911; pulled her shirt up and her pants down (!!); and spent 15 minutes stuffing her into his trunk; she probably was. After he drove off and left her lying in the snow, she was.

    His story is so full of holes you could strain cheese through it, but the crown knows a jury made up of people like {Robert, who believes the courts have no bias against prostitutes, doubts a man who earns $90,000/yr can act in a rational manner, and thinks her being coked up makes it self-defense, and Skdadl, who argues we should let this case go because the system is fubar, and won’t convict this guy on the above evidence} might not stick up for an exotic dancer!
    So it offers manslaughter, usually 2-4 years, and the perp takes it. The judge says two and a half, but then he’s all—14 months of jail is OK (?!), you can go home now!

    Why does 30 = 14 in this case? Ostensibly he surprised an intruder, resulting in a fight and accidental death. But notice the headline–it doesn’t say “for killing intruder”. Doesn’t say “woman”–relevant considering size and strength. Would be weird if it said “mechanic” or “salesperson” because an intruder’s occupation is totally irrelevant. But “hooker” explains everything. We don’t need to know anything more about a dead hooker—like, if she was one, or why the story says she wasn’t, or her baby, or how often she saw her mom—or about the five others who’ve been dumped nearby. The paper thinks we want a follow-up about the ‘caring son’ (with his also not-in-jail-after-attacking-a-sex-worker son). What I think is, Stephine Beck and the others wanted the protections of the justice system “we” have, bad as it may be, but they get only 14/30 of even that! The best way to honor her is to see that she and all the others are included in that “we”.


  23. Oh, great. I just became one of the “people like,” whoever they are and whatever watercat thinks those people are likely to be like — you know, the schmoes who turn up to do jury duty in democracies, clearly beneath watercat’s contempt.

    I wrote above to mattt and I repeat: I don’t have a lot of doubts that Stephine, who was already marginalized in life, has been defiled and then disregarded by our justice system in death.

    But I’m not the cops, and I don’t want to be. I’m not the Crown, and I don’t want to be. I’m not the judge, and I don’t want to be.

    I will fight against the marginalization of sex workers any time I can, and have. But I have spent a very long adult life arguing that I would rather see any number of guilty persons go free than one innocent convicted — an argument that civil libertarians usually have to make against nutbar rightwingers, and which we are usually still losing against them — so I am highly unlikely to cede that ground to people who make uninformed and unwarranted personal overgeneralizations.


  24. How bout the logical conclusion of: WR picked up a hooker and brought her back to his house. He didn’t feel the need to pay her or compensate her for services rendered. She flipped out, maybe even tried to grab omething of value to sell. WR didn’t like that much, so he lost it and killed her.

    The fact is that the victim in this case was scrutinized far more than the murderer. Then again, you are talking about a jurisdiction that let Karla Homolka go free.


  25. As long as we are not talking about the death penalty, I would rather see fifty innocent people imprisoned than one murderer go free. If you can’t see why that murderer being free would be a problem, well, it must be nice from your point of view, since men are prostituted and strangled much less often than women, and non-prostituted women may expect to live longer than prostituted women.

    I don’t care if sending someone to prison for a crime is a deterrent to other people committing that crime. I care that it takes that one person guilty of that crime and GETS HIM OFF THE STREET. If he’s behind bars the most he can do is kill some other criminal. If he’s out here he might kill me. Or my daughter. Or my mom. Or anyone else I care about.

    Want to stay out of prison? Don’t commit crimes. OK, that won’t keep everybody out of prison, and I hate when an innocent person is convicted of something, but the thing is, guilty people are convicted too, and what would you do with them, just let them go? We have no other options. The people who do these terrible things make damn sure of that.

    Why is it a “leftist” value to slap a murderer on the wrist, anyway?


  26. Dana, it is not a leftist value to slap murderers on the wrist, and I clearly was not arguing that.

    It is certainly a leftist value to resist the culture of lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key — in fact, democracy cannot survive that attitude, as we are seeing so clearly day after day south of the border (highest incarceration rates in the world, maybe next to China? and how’s that working out for them?).

    When you write that you would be happy to see fifty innocent people imprisoned in order to get one guilty guy, I just despair, although I also think that I just won the argument. You go find a nice safe prison society to live in, because you obviously place a very very low value on liberty, which requires bravery and principle and calm thought from us if we want to keep it.

    And I don’t need lectures about sex workers, ta very much.


  27. It’s none too clear, skdadl, what you are arguing, when you stick up for sex workers at the same time you want their killers to go free. However you feel about prison reform, it has nothing to do with this case, which is about why a sex worker did not receive equal treatment under the existing law.

    Also, I’m confused, am I a bleeding-heart liberal or a nutbag right-winger?


  28. watercat, it is none too clear that you can read if you can write clauses like this: “at the same time you want their killers to go free.”

    I wasn’t talking about prison reform except secondarily. I was talking about defending the constitution and the Charter, ok? I was talking about trying and convicting on the evidence, a system we have to defend if we want to preserve democracy.

    This discussion is scaring me.


  29. I was talking about trying and convicting on the evidence, the forensic evidence that says he pressed her throat down against a hard surface for nearly a minute after she had passed out, i.e. he murdered her. If he “can’t be convicted cleanly on the evidence”, as you say, then he is not guilty and should go free. His obviously false testimony that he killed her accidentally, which is by definition manslaughter, would be irrelevant.
    As a judo player I have strangled many many people, and been strangled by many people, and guess what? None of us ever magically became dead. So don’t hand me any crap about how he might be innocent in spite of the facts, or that asking him to tell the truth is destroying the protection any accused needs. If you have any actual specific reason the judge should not follow sentencing guidelines in this particular case, let’s have it. Otherwise, piss off.


  30. I think that one of the problems with discussing this case has to do with reporting. It’s covered differently in a couple of different papers, but one thing you can be sure of, none of them give you a full and accurate picture of the case. As a law professor, I can tell you that this item would need a fair bit of researching before anyone could discuss it with any confidence that they had the facts right. It may be as much about mainstream media and how poorly they report “news” such as this and how they sensationalize it, playing into stereotypes and fears as only the press can …
    Many is the time I’ve participated in a case before the courts and then not even recognized it when I heard how it was reported – not just in terms of the legal issues, but even with respect to what most of us would consider the “hard facts”.


  31. Woops – guess I shoulda read the update before making my comment. I imagine Peter Kormos and friends likely do have ways of finding out the facts. Glad you’re keeping them on their toes mattt!


  32. I grew up 5 houses away from this man. I spent as much time at his home as I did my own growing up since I have been friends with his youngest daughter since we were 2 years old. It completely disgusts me that he got out in 14 months for taking a persons life.
    The Judge needs to take his glasses off and give his head a shake since he is the only one who believes that 14 months equals 30. Yes I live in St. Catharines and it made me sick too my stomach when I saw Wayne Ryczak driving a car on the street today. For him too be able too live his life normally after he took the life of a young woman (who yes we all know made some mistakes in her life, but was still young enough too make changes and clean up her life) makes me totally sick. I hope Peter Kormos is successful in his actions of getting this sentence appealed. I hope they overrule the judges sentence and makes him serve the appropriate time behind bars.
    Stephanie deserves too have justice served for her and her unborn child. Despite her bad choices she is not trash and he had no right too treat her like she was.
    Of course he would use self defence when there is no one too discredit that story because the only other witness is not able too be heard in court. I do not believe it, he had ample oppurtunity too make it look like self defence since he wasn’t caught until the next day. As far as he goes, a man who has 3 grown children (2 of which are Female) and Grandchildren including grandaughters, I hope he has nightmares for the rest of his natural life about what he did and even into the afterlife wherever he ends up. I can only imagine Stephanie’s family hasn’t had a good nights sleep since he took the life of their Daughter, Sister, Cousin, Niece Grandaughter and Friend. RIP Stephanie and your Unborn child


  33. If anyone reading this is from the St. Catharines or Niagara area, there are two upcoming opportunities to support Stephine’s friends & family and the sex worker community.

    Saturday, June 7 there will be a group collecting signatures to petition Ryczak’s ridiculous sentence.

    On Monday, June 9, we’re walking from Christina’s Eatery (24 St. Paul St.) to MPP Jim Bradley’s office (2 Secord Dr.) to protest the courts denial of Stephine’s life. Please join us!


  34. Stephine Beck was my friend. She like all the others that have been murdered did not deserve to die this way. There is no way in hell that I believe the words of a MURDERER. The only satisfaction I have right now is Knowing that God is his Judge and Jury and He will not make a mistake like the Judge down here did.


  35. What’s funny is that the women who sell sex services receive far less sympathy than the men who buy them, even when problems of violence associated with the business almost always involve the women as victims and the men as perpetrators.

    And on another note, did police find any weapons at the trailer? Was there any claim that Beck used a weapon? How tall or big was she? Has anyone bothered to point out how ridiculous it might seem for Ryczak – who is a heavyset man – to claim that he needed to strangle a woman to death to protect himself from her?


  36. Okay I read the article more thoroughly. So she used a lamp? And she died after he pushed her on the floor? Well I guess we’ll never know what really went down.

    But why did she end up naked? Isn’t that part a little bit suspicious?


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