There is a truly bizarre cases at the intersection of religious beliefs and the criminal code in Canada. Peter Wald’s family truly believed he would rise from the dead. Kaling Wald, 50, has pleaded guilty to leaving her husband in their home for six months after his death because she and their family believed that he would be resurrected. They prayed over the corpse for months as it decayed until it was discovered. Notably, the husband died of an untreated illness because the family believed that he would also be healed by prayer.
The family was known in the neighborhood for their blue Astro van that was covered in messages of love for God. They had carved crosses into the headlights so they would project the religious symbol.
Wald pleaded guilty to failing to notify police or the coroner of the death under the Coroner’s Act. Notably, that charge replaced the two original charges of neglect of duty regarding a dead body and offering an indignity to a body. The charges were dropped because prosecutors found no ill will on the part of Wald whose faith had “tainted and warped her better judgment.”
Her husband appears to have gone into a coma and then she said she noticed stomach bloating and signs of rigor mortis on his forehead. Her response? She covered him with two blankets, sealed the door and vents with duct tape, and padlocked the bedroom. The whole family then prayed daily and awaited for his resurrection.
When police came to evict the family for defaulting on the mortgage on Sept. 17, 2013, they discovered the body.
Notably, during the eviction, the family packed the man’s clothing so he would have something to wear. The wife simply explained “That was how strong our faith was.” It is a remarkable level of faith where you believe a person will be resurrected from prayer without ever having seen it occur. However, Wald still believes in resurrection of ordinary people and says that, while they have not seen it, it was been “documented” around the world.
One of the most interesting facts in the case is that there were children in the home and the Children’s Aid Society was called in. However, it determined that there were no concerns for the well-being of the couple’s six children (ages 11 to 22) and the case was closed. No concerns? They left the young children in a home with a deteriorating corpses for six months and there are no concerns?
Wald’s sentence was promptly suspended and she was given just 18 months of probation.
Afterward, Wald insisted “we lived a normal life. We were clean people.” However, she insisted that “we won’t do that again . . . laws exist and we know that now.”
We previously discussed how acts heralded in the Bible are viewed as manifestly insane in actual cases. For a prior column, click here and here. For those who are mentally unbalanced, stories like that of Abraham can resonate in a dangerous way as shown in this case. The fact that such individuals may believe that they are acting under orders of God is obviously no defense and prosecutors often oppose its use as part of an insanity defense. However, I have previously written about how religion is often effective in lowering sentences or even avoiding prosecutions in some cases.