Canadian Woman Sentenced After Keeping Husband’s Body For Six Months While Family Prayed For His Resurrection

religious-symbols-on-vanThere 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.

Source: CBC

29 thoughts on “Canadian Woman Sentenced After Keeping Husband’s Body For Six Months While Family Prayed For His Resurrection”

  1. Apparently Antigone should be mandatory reading in Canada.
    A true case for classical Greek literature in education.

    1. Bruce Woych – not understanding your reference to Antigone, which had nothing to do with resurrection, but an unlawful burial. Not sure of the point you are making since damn everyone important is dead by the end of the play.

  2. After all, cars go along the road because God pushes them, and airplanes stay up because God is under the wings….

  3. As someone of Christian faith, I find this a sad story. I do think the state took the proper action and only placed them on probation. I’ll bet these Christians are non denominational, interpreting the precepts and tenets of Christianity on their own. This can be hazardous for the most intellectually gifted among us. If they would have been educated and had known the precepts of the Roman Catholic Church, precepts which have been studied by theologians for the past 2000 years, this would not have happened. Since they have agreed to not do anything like this again, and since they are on probation, I think there will not be any problems going forward.

    On a lighter note, although I do not agree with the comment by BarkinDog, I found his comment very funny and I keep laughing when I think about it.

  4. There’s a lot of this going on. However, much less than before and only in isolated areas of North America and pretty much anywhere in the Islamic world. I have always been attracted to the pageantry, art and architecture, and philosophy stemming from religions. The last great mergence was with the Pre Socratics and Plato. Since then, when someone had the idea that the efficiency of a single god who was represented by one guy or gal (Constantine) was a more efficient way to rule, it has been quite the transition from beheading, burnings, hanging, drawn and quarterings, etc to the odd obscure instance. For a look into the past, visit the countries ruled by Islam.

    When a dear friend died well before her time, in the south of France, her family stole the body from the hospital, (stole because it is against the law but not really enforced), kept it in her room for three days while her ex husbands, family and friends watched over it, (one person in the room at all times), and then she was buried in the thousand year old mountain village cemetery on top of, beside, where there used to be thousands before her. The ritual from the medieval church to the rocky graveside meant something although pretty much nobody was ‘religious’. It reminded me of when I was a kid and when we found a dead bird, we would create a funeral complete with procession, words spoken, and burial.

  5. DBQ, Part of my analysis is the age and number of the kids[11-22]. My mom grew up in a family of 13. The older kids raise the younger ones. So, the 11 year old has siblings to rely upon as well. I worked in a juvenile court. It’s a real crap shoot. If you get a good social worker she/he would be respectful of these beliefs, albeit they be strange, and take a minimalist approach. However, those level headed, non judgmental social workers are RARE. You expressed a deep understanding of the risks of court involvement in your second[11:03am] comment. Unfortunately, one must assume the worst when dealing w/ a nanny govt. And NO ONE is more nanny than social workers.

  6. rafflaw, “Do the right thing.” WTF does that mean?? You are the Prince of Platitudes here.

  7. I certainly don’t think you should take children away from their parents because you don’t agree with or like their beliefs. Believing in resurrection of the dead. Or that the earth is flat. Or that a comet is going to bring a living God to land on the Earth. There are a lot of crazy things people can believe in. There are a lot of political ideas that I disagree with and even think that people are crazy for believing.

    To remove children for the purpose of not being exposed to their parent’s beliefs is a dangerous path to take. A very slippery slope. Suppose that believing in Global Warming were to be the disparaged belief of the moment. Would you support removing children from being exposed to that? How about not believing in Global Warming? Remove children from that horrible influence? When would it stop? It would depend on who is in charge at the moment and is a violation of the right to have our own speech and own beliefs.

    However, when those beliefs put the children in actual physical danger, such as the case of a young diabetic child who needs medical treatment, but would be denied because the parent thinks that prayer would solve it. The child with a disease that would be cured by antibiotics, denied those for a parent’s beliefs. Body modification of little children. Extreme diets that put children into a malnutrition situation. Lots of other examples….but you get my drift.

    Physical danger. Yes.
    Disagreement with beliefs. No.

  8. This entire family needs, desperately, to be locked away in padded cells…. and left alone, permanently, with their imaginary Ghod…. till they all turn to dust!

  9. What concerns me is what if the children get sick, or a broken arm, and she just sits on her tush and prays about it, expecting God to do everything for her.

    The family does probably love each other, so perhaps some occasional wellness visits would be sufficient. Just make sure none of the kids is getting gangrene because the mom refused to pull out a huge splinter.

    This is a helpless view of religion that I disagree with. House have a leaky roof? Well, don’t pick up a hammer. Pray about it. It makes God at your beck and call and creates a very passive attitude. I’ve always felt like you do your best, and pray for support and guidance.

    I knew a Christian Scientist whose father would not get surgery for a heart condition. He died. But when her horse colicked, she paid for his surgery. Was that an expression of personal doubts in how they were living?

    There are all sorts of extremes. There are people who over-medicate every condition, especially for kids, and do great damage. And there are those who won’t even try herbal remedies, and are rather fatalistic.

  10. Hopefully no one thinks her parental rights should be severed! So, what do you do? Supervise the kids w/ a social worker?

    Not severed….but perhaps curtailed until we can be assured that she is sane and not a danger to her children.

    It is one thing for an adult to decide that they don’t need medical care or other types of care because of their religious beliefs. To voluntarily decide to not get treatment and try to pray the cancer (or whatever) away is a personal choice. Stupid possibly, but a choice that an adult should be allowed to make.

    Children should not be forced to suffer illnesses that could easily be treated or that are life threatening if not treated because their parent’s think that they can pray away juvenile diabetes or other illnesses. Left to suffer and possibly die because of their parent’s religious beliefs. Children who are left in this type of condition or in this type of atmosphere should be either removed and treated or at the very very least closely monitored.

    Adults can make stupid choices. Children should be allowed to live to adulthood to have the same opportunity.

  11. How did that Resurrection thing work out for you?? I have to agree that any young child left with these religious extremists is in danger. The Children’s Aid Society should step in and do the right thing.

  12. There is only one true religion which will assist mankind– The 8th Day Dog Adventists. On the 8th Day God Created Dog and Sent Him To Earth To Watch Over Mankind. God thereafter got out of the picture. You can pray to God all you want but thank God if you have a dog and listen to the dog. Dog is God spelled backwards.

  13. Much ado about nothing. Yes, they’re weird. But they didn’t harm anyone. If behaving weirdly were a crime ….

  14. One’s take on this is going to be biased based on one’s view of religion. I have a great disdain for organized religion. But, I have a deep faith in God. This is a hybrid of mental illness and religious zealotry. Regarding criminal charges. There is no indication of malice or foul play. We had young men in Wi. dig up the fresh corpse of a beautiful young woman and boink her. Charges were dropped. I disagreed w/ that. But, in this case, I agree w/ the dismissal.

    Regarding the kids. The libertarian in me says that while this mother’s zealotry is disturbing, and this corpse thing more than bizarre, what do you do? Hopefully no one thinks her parental rights should be severed! So, what do you do? Supervise the kids w/ a social worker? Maybe, but this families beliefs are going to clash w/ any social workers ethos. I worked as a juvenile probation officer in KC. I didn’t handle cases like this, but the unit right next to my office did. I was asked to sit in on some case evaluations. The supervisor of the unit was a wise former nun. She had an all female unit and wanted some male perspective. I could see on some cases we[the court] were really just poking a bees nest. Yes, the family was bizarre. Yes, it was not good for the children. But, the family, while dysfunctional by any standards, did function in their own bizarre ways. The kids were not physically abused, the cases the supervisor would call me in on were ones like this. She wanted some male common sense. She had a lot of mommy perspective, she wanted some daddy input. Based on the information presented here, I say leave the family alone.

  15. If he don’t get up after three days, he ain’t gettin up. (see also fish and company)

  16. Well, he clearly is not going to resurrect, so that is not going to be a problem again. 🙂

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