Inquiry into death of Keira Kagan, 4, found with father at cliff base

An inquest will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of four-year-old Keira Kagan.  A jury can also make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.  (Jennifer Kagan-Viater - photo credit)

An inquest will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of four-year-old Keira Kagan. A jury can also make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths. (Jennifer Kagan-Viater – photo credit)

Ontario will conduct an inquiry into the case of Keira Kagan, a four-year-old girl found dead with her father at the base of a cliff west of Toronto in 2020, the province’s top coroner says.

The date and location of the inquest have not yet been announced, but the focus will be on investigating the little girl’s circumstances of death. The jury of inquiry can also make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.

Kagan’s body was found exactly three years ago, on February 9, 2020, at the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario.

At the time, police said both Kagan and her father, Robin Brown, appear to have suffered significant trauma that comes with a fall.

Walkers have died in the area before, but Kagan’s mother and stepfather have said they believe the deaths were a murder suicide. This allegation was not tested in court.

CLOCK | Ontario mother says courts could have prevented daughter’s death:

In a statement Thursday, Justin Linden, her mother’s attorney, said, “Jennifer made every effort to draw attention to the danger her ex-husband posed and to seek help.”

The statement said the investigation is an “important step towards accountability,” adding that it sheds light on the “neglect” of Kagan’s mother, Jennifer Kagan, which she believes is contributing to her has led to death.

When asked how Jennifer felt when she heard about the investigation, Linden said, “Happy is the word. I think it’s just a relief that she’s finally, finally, finally being heard.”

Review identifies 22 risk factors

Jennifer and Brown split when Kagan was nine months old. Jennifer had since remarried, and the couple were locked in a bitter custody battle before Kagan was found dead.

Jennifer previously told CBC News that a clerk at the Jewish Family and Children’s Service promised to file a motion in court saying Kagan needed protection from her father and that his visitation rights should be revoked.

Two days later he and his daughter were dead.

“The mother still had to allow her daughter to see the father for a weekend visit on a Friday under the existing court order. The court should review the father’s maternity leave the following week,” according to a report by the Provincial Domestic Violence Death Review Board. “However, the daughter died on Sunday.”

The report also identified 22 risk factors for intimate partner homicide — factors said to be consistent with cases “considered to be predictable and preventable.”

Domestic Violence Deaths Review Committee

Domestic Violence Deaths Review Committee

A coroner’s report found that Keira had died from blunt force trauma to the head and notes that while the police investigation did not determine exactly what led to Keira’s death, police “identified multiple risk factors for domestic violence in Keira’s father.”

Upon completion of the coroner’s inquest report, the case was referred to the Committee of Inquiry into Deaths from Domestic Violence for further analysis and possible recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

Deaths may have been ‘retaliation’: report

“The deaths may have been retaliation by the father against the mother for ending the relationship, remarrying a new partner and starting a new family and/or serving in the ongoing family court litigation,” the review reads.

“The mother sensed danger when the court seemed to signal concern about the father’s existing parental leave.”

Kagan’s family later filed a lawsuit against the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, which previously declined to comment to CBC News.

Her mother also told CBC News that Kagan’s death could have been prevented if the court system had considered allegations of spousal abuse during her custody process.

Last year, a private members bill was tabled in the House of Commons on Kagan’s behalf.

Bill C-233, called Keira’s Law, aims to expand judges’ training on domestic violence and coercive control.


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