A South Surrey mother has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the discovery Wednesday of her eight-year-old daughter’s body.
Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team confirmed the charge against Lisa Deanne Batstone, 41, just after 11 a.m. the next day.
Batstone’s daughter, Teagan, was found deceased in the trunk of a car in the 13900-block of 35A Avenue, a cul de sac off of Crescent Road, around noon Wednesday.
The distraught defendant, who was arrested at the scene, made a brief appearance in Surrey Provincial Court Thursday afternoon, where Judge Donald Gardner ordered a psychiatric assessment after a request from court-appointed defence counsel Kelly Johnston.
Investigators believe the girl – a student at Rosemary Heights Elementary and Batstone’s only child – was killed elsewhere.
Teagan’s father, Ottawa resident Gabe Batstone – CEO of a Vancouver-based “interactive 3D and augmented technologies” company – shared his grief on Twitter Thursday: “Life will never be the same after losing my daughter to murder… We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful Teagan. Beloved daughter, sister who deserved so much more.”
He later tweeted: “Thanks for the condolences. I am unable to talk without sobbing but tomorrow I hope to share great memories of my love Teagan Erin Batstone.”
He told CTV Friday that the last message he received from his ex-wife was that Teagan had the flu and wouldn’t be going to school.
In the days since his daughter’s death, the father has called for family-law reforms.
An autopsy scheduled for Thursday was hoped to confirm the girl’s cause of death. The results were not released by Peace Arch News’ press deadline Monday.
Meanwhile, police and grief counsellors were at Rosemary Heights Elementary in South Surrey Thursday to help Teagan’s fellow students and teachers deal with the tragedy.
School district spokesman Doug Strachan said a message “just to inform” was developed and shared with students in Grades 4 to 7. Information to help parents of students in Grade 3 and younger support their children was also distributed.
News of Teagan’s death and the charge against her mother has shocked the Rosemary Heights community.
At White Rock Baptist Church, where Teagan and her mom had attended for the past 6½ years, pastor Fay Puddicombe described the youngster as “an affectionate, vivacious little girl loved by everyone who knew her.”
“We will miss her greatly,” Puddicombe told PAN, adding a memorial service will be held for Teagan at the church (1657 140 St.) at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 17). Everyone is welcome to attend the child-friendly service.
“We would like to find some way for kids to respond, possibly by providing paper so they can draw or write messages,” she said.
One area resident told PAN that Lisa Batstone “had always been a loving, devoted mother to her daughter.”
“Everyone who knows Lisa is so shocked because she was a single mom whose life revolved around Teagan in every way,” said the resident, who asked to not be identified in any way, by email.
Batstone has “a generous and caring personality,” and had recently started work as a special-education assistant, but had been struggling financially, the resident said.
“In retrospect, I don’t think we realized just how desperate she was… We’re all just struggling to make sense – to comprehend, on some level, what has happened.”
The resident described Teagan as “a bright, sweet girl.”
“She was sometimes quiet but always glowing and innocent. She loved her dog and her cat – and her mom – to pieces.”
A Facebook tribute posted by Tamara Glover describes Teagan as “an angel on earth and now one in heaven.”
“Teagan was always a happy child, who loved her dog Bats and her cat Beans,” Glover writes. “Teagan was Lisa’s world…”
Pound told a news conference near the scene Wednesday just before 5 p.m. that the car Teagan’s body was found in was initially investigated as part of a minor motor-vehicle incident.
Lisa Batstone last posted to her Facebook page on Dec. 7, when she changed her cover photo to one of her and Teagan ziplining and uploaded older photos of Teagan with Santa.
In posts from October, she describes herself as an education assistant looking forward to Christmas.
“Now time for proper packing, labelling then just shipping packages so Teagan and I can enjoy the upcoming festivities, celebrations, and beautiful loving Christmas time – feeling thankful,” Bastone writes.
Earlier this year, she wrote about volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium, where she “worked my way up to trainer…”
Batstone’s next court date is scheduled for Dec. 18.
– with files from Sarah Massah & Alex Browne
— Gabe Batstone (@gabebatstone) December 11, 2014
— Gabe Batstone (@gabebatstone) December 14, 2014