July 12th, 2024

‘He had the best smile’: Mom of alleged Kenneth Law victim mourns son, wants answers

By Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press on December 14, 2023.

An Ontario-area mother says she initially felt angry at the man accused of selling a lethal substance to her son who later ingested it and died by suicide almost two hours after he called her on the phone one last time. Kim Prosser poses for a selfie with her son Ashtyn Prosser in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kim Prosser, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Kim Prosser was angry and consumed by grief when she learned that her son was one of the alleged victims of an Ontario man accused of selling lethal substances to people who took their own lives.

Now, months after her son’s death in March, the 46-year-old said she’s reached a calmer space and is only seeking answers from Kenneth Law, who was charged this week with 14 counts of second-degree murder.

“I have never experienced my heart break the way that it has this year … there was definitely anger and an onset of ‘who’s at fault for this,’ but now I want to sit in a place of forgiveness, not retribution,” Prosser said in a phone interview.

“I actually would like to know more about (Law). What’s his story, how did he get there.”

Police have alleged that 58-year-old Law, who is from Mississauga, Ont., ran several websites that were used to sell sodium nitrite and other items that can be used for self-harm, shipping them to people in more than 40 countries.

The second-degree murder charges announced against him this week are in addition to 14 charges of counselling and aiding suicide that were laid earlier this year, all connected to 14 alleged victims across Ontario. Police have said those individuals were between the ages of 16 and 36.

Prosser said the second-degree murder charges have made little difference to her, as she continues to mourn her son.

“Second-degree murder charges change nothing for me,” she said. “These new charges or punitive damages don’t provide any resolution to the problem that we’re facing.”

Her son, Ashtyn Prosser, died exactly a month before his 20th birthday, she said.

He had been struggling with his mental health and tried multiple times to get better support, she said, adding that she thought the health-care system had failed him.

“Do you know how hard it is to pick up that phone and call somebody to say that you need help?” she said.

“We don’t even as a society feel like that’s an acceptable thing. We’re all just taught like we can do everything on our own, here take a medication and it will fix everything for you. That’s not how it works.”

Kim Prosser said her son was born in Alberta and she later moved with him and his older brother to Thunder Bay, Ont., and then Windsor, Ont.

“He was this really brilliant, funny, colourful kid,” she said.

“He had the best smile and loved to build things when he was young. He started saving and built his own first computer by the time he was 13 and really enjoyed gaming.”

Prosser said her son began struggling in high school when he was a teenager, recalling a time when a teacher told him he likely would not get into a post-secondary institution.

He eventually enrolled at York University in Toronto, she said, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced classes online brought on difficulties during his first semester in 2020.

“I (told him), ‘that’s OK, just drop out. There’s lots of jobs out there. We can figure school out later,'” Prosser said.

He eventually moved to Thunder Bay but struggled to find work, she said.

He then tried to kill himself twice within a span of 10 days, Prosser said, adding she rushed to Thunder Bay to help her son.

He was put on medication, including anti-anxiety pills, and Prosser tried to convince her son to move back to Windsor with her, but he didn’t want to, she said.

“He’s an adult. I can’t force them,” she said.

“I tried so much to just even set a basic schedule for him. He couldn’t even wake up, brush his teeth and have a shower, and couldn’t keep that going. We tried everything. Looking for help from outside for therapy. We tried exercise.”

Prosser said she eventually had to return to Windsor for her job while her son remained in Thunder Bay. He visited her in December 2022 and they had a good time, she said.

One day in March, he called his mother, she said, and they spoke about her dogs, a trip she was planning to take and other matters before saying they loved each other and hanging up.

“He knew he was calling to say goodbye,” Prosser said through tears.

“I’m grateful for that phone call. He didn’t do that for anybody else but for me.”

An hour and half later, she said she got a call from police saying her son had died.

Police took her son’s laptop and told her “he had probably a terabyte of information on his computer surrounding suicide.”

In May ““ the month Law was arrested ““ Prosser said police called her again and told her they believed her son was one of Law’s alleged victims.

In addition to the Ontario investigation, police in other parts of Canada and in other countries have said they are investigating possible links between deaths in their jurisdictions and Law’s alleged activities.

Law is currently in custody and is due to appear in a Newmarket, Ont., court next week.

Prosser said she is focusing on healing while she cherishes the time she had with her son.

“I’m really grateful for the 19 years and 11 months that I had,” Prosser said.

“In our last call, when he said, ‘Have a great rest of your trip’, I think it means to me like the rest of this journey here and I want to make that meaningful and positive. That’s what Ashtyn would’ve wanted.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2023.

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