Toronto Sun Columnist: Mark Bonokoski - Torment from the inside
Toronto Sun Columnist: Mark Bonokoski - Torment from the inside

February 6, 2005

Torment from the inside

By Mark Bonokoski -- For the Toronto Sun

WITH SO much time on his hands -- being in prison for knifing a hero to death being the reason -- Henry Danninger is seemingly using those long and empty days to emotionally torment the family of the young man he killed.

It is what Andy Moffitt's family truly believes.

November was bad enough. Already troubled that the murderer of her son was getting a shot at parole after only 18 months in prison, Paulette Moffitt received what she then described as "devastating news" from the National Parole Board -- word that Danninger was suddenly postponing his Dec. 8 parole hearing until mid-January, and that there was nothing the family could do.

It is how the game is played.

Henry Danninger -- a Brockville-area drug dealer with a manslaughter conviction now atop his rap sheet -- was basically calling the shots.

He pulled the strings. Everyone else was his puppet, including the National Parole Board.

And now, once again, he is playing puppet master.

He postponed his parole hearing once again.

It was set for Feb. 22.

Or at least it was until last week.

Andy Moffitt, a 23-year-old computer whiz in his final year of engineering at the University of Ottawa, was stabbed to death by Henry Danninger in 1998 -- on the eve of Christmas Eve -- when he tried to bring calm to a violent confrontation at the Coyote Bar in a district of Ottawa known as Sandy Hill.

The act of courage that cost the young Brockville man his life saw him being posthumously awarded the Governor General's Medal of Bravery in 2003.

'I am his mom'

"When it is my turn to leave this planet, I hope to bring his medal to him," his mother said. "I know he is waiting for us. Only time keeps us apart.

"I pray to God that I am the first to go. I am his mom, and I want to hang the Medal of Bravery around his neck and give him the biggest hug.

"He won't be alone anymore," she said. "And maybe, just maybe, the rest of our family will be able to go on with their lives. This is my prayer."

Rod and Paulette Moffitt have steeled themselves twice now to face their son's killer who, on the first day of his trial for second-degree murder in 2003, copped a guilty plea to manslaughter and received a five-year sentence.

They have sent their victim-impact statements to the parole board, as have their son's best friend, Craig Wells, the one who held their son in his arms as he lying dying on the floor of the Coyote Bar with a stab wound through the heart.

They had done it all -- booked off work, reserved hotel rooms, gathered supporters and found emotional backbone.

Then the Dec. 8 parole hearing was cancelled by Danninger, all which made Christmas even more stressful.

There was the Christmas-time anniversary of Andy's death to endure, and then thoughts of facing Danninger on Jan. 14.

Then that parole hearing was postponed by Danninger, and typed into the books for Feb. 22.

Yet to receive letter

But now that one's not going to happen either.

Henry Danninger, 31, has again pulled the strings.

"The offender has the right to ask for, and get, a postponement until the board takes the position there is no valid reason," said the parole board's Carol Sparling. Sparling was unable to give particulars on the Danninger case because of Privacy Act restrictions.

At this writing, Paulette Moffitt had yet to receive the official letter from the parole board -- just the phone call -- stating that her son's killer, for whatever reason, has decided that Feb. 22 would no longer be the day the puppet show ends.

Sparling said no new date has been set, although the Moffitts were told, via telephone, that Apr. 19 was likely the next date.

"It's heart-breaking what they're doing, because I truly believe what they are doing, they are doing to our son," said Paulette Moffitt.

"It is absolutely wrong. How can Andy possibly rest in peace until this is over?

"He can't. It's just impossible."

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother