Their marriage may have ended badly, but something special came out of Lisa and Gabe Batstone’s failed relationship: their daughter, Teagan.
A little girl with a gentle smile, she embraced everything that came her way.
She loved gymnastics, tennis, running and especially animals.
Lisa and Gabe split in 2008, when Teagan was just two years old, and divorced two years later.
Lisa, 41, had struggled to cope with the break-up and adjusting to her new life as a single mum.
When she and Gabe tried to sort out the cust ody arrangements, tensions always ran high.
Lisa was granted custody of Teagan, but Gabe wanted to be involved in his daughter’s life as much as possible.
To help improve their communication with each other, they enlisted the help of a family counsellor and started to make official plans about childcare via email.
Lisa remained in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, while Gabe moved to Ottawa, where he went on to marry his new partner, Stephanie.
She already had a five-year-old son, but loved Teagan like her own, and Teagan adored her step-brother.
She’d go to stay with Gabe and Stephanie as often as she could, and Gabe would come to see her whenever he had the chance.
Then in 2012 the couple had a son together.
For Lisa, however, life was less joyful.
Her struggle with depression and anxiety spilled over, and in 2012 she attempted to take her own life.
Teagan went to stay with her dad, but once Lisa had recovered and was deemed safe to look after her daughter again, she was returned to her.
Worried about Lisa’s state of mind, Gabe tried to get custody of Teagan, but his request was declined.
By 2014, it was clear that Lisa’s behavior was becoming irrational.
She’d send Gabe endless texts and emails, and would call constantly through the week.
It got to the point where there were so many messages, he’d have to respond to them in bulk, once a week.
Some of them claimed there was an emergency, but when he’d call to check if Lisa was OK, they’d argue and one of them would hang up.
Nonetheless, they had a child together, so Gabe tried to work through it and put Teagan first.
Although Lisa had the power to make it difficult for him, he remained civil.
In early December 2014, Lisa took Teagan on a day out to a zip-line center and the eight-year-old was seen beaming in the photos that Lisa shared on social media.
The same week, Gabe paid his daughter a visit, dropping her off at school before he left for home.
Later, Lisa messaged him with the words , ‘It seems you’d rather I disappeared.’
He didn’t know what she meant.
This was just the latest in a long line of wild accusations.
That night, 9 December, Lisa told Teagan they were going to have a ‘*** camp-out’ in their living room.
It must have seemed such fun for the little girl, as they set up makeshift beds.
In the early hours of 10 December, Gabe received a message from Lisa saying Teagan was unwell with the flu and wouldn’t be going to school.
Then at lunchtime that day, a 911 call was placed by a member of the public in Surrey, saying a woman had crashed her car in a residential cul-de-sac.
It initially seemed to the police to be a regular traffic call-out, but soon after they arrived, they realized it was far more serious.
The car was Lisa’s.
She was found curled up in the boot.
In her arms, she was cradling her daughter’s dead body.
It was a horrific and confusing scene.
How could the child have been killed in such a minor accident?
Officers realized something wasn’t right.
Lisa kept repeating, ‘I just wanna die’, and that she wanted her daughter to ‘be with Jesus ‘.
She was found with a large kitchen knife.
Once Lisa had been taken in for questioning, investigators were able to piece together what had happened.
Teagan hadn’t died in the crash – she’d been killed by her own mother.
In a two-hour-long interview, Lisa was recorded blaming what she’d done on her struggle with mental health.
And when it came to a motive, they could find only one: Lisa had killed Teagan to spite her ex-husband, to make sure Gabe didn’t get custody.
On the night of their ‘camp-out’ Teagan had been sleeping when Lisa fetched a plastic bag and held it over her daughter’s mouth and ****
It would have taken four to five minutes to ensure she was dead.
She left notes for people to find.
One read, ‘You win, Gabe’.
Another said, ‘You broke me’.
She wrote that she couldn’t believe what she’d done and deserved to be punished.
But she told police she failed to take her own life and decided she would drive off a cliff or stab herself instead.
So she placed Teagan’s body in the boot of her car, grabbed a knife and
Then she ran her car into a ditch.
‘I went and knocked on someone’s door and said, “Please call the police, my daughter’s dead in the car,”’ Lisa told officers.
‘And then I crawled in and snuggled with her until the last minute.’
When Gabe found out what his ex-wife had done, he was distraught.
It was unthinkable that he’d been holding her hand just the day before and was now faced with having to choose the clothes to bury her in.
Despite Lisa’s claims of incapacity, she was deemed mentally fit for trial.
In 2018, she pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder of her daughter.
The prosecution maintained she’d killed Teagan to spite her husband, because she’d planned to take her life and didn’t want him to get custody afterwards.
They pointed out that in one of the notes she’d left, she’d said, ‘I couldn’t imagine leaving here and leaving her to him’.
Lisa could have called 911 at any point, but she didn’t.
Her defense lawyers claimed she’d killed Teagan because her mental illness made her wrongly believe her daughter was in danger from her father.
But in March this year, she was found guilty, and this September faced sentencing.
The second-degree murder conviction automatically meant she’d get life, but there were arguments about how long her parole period should be.
Lisa’s lawyers said she’d been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder while awaiting trial, and that at the time of the murder she’d been suffering from anxiety.
But Justice Catherine Murray said Lisa had breached Teagan’s trust in the worst possible way and lied about the extent of her mental illness to justify what she’d done.
She called the decision to murder ‘deliberate, systematic, focused, purposeful and goal-oriented’.
Lisa sobbed as she read a statement to the court apologizing for what she’d done.
‘I’d give anything to go back and change what happened.
‘ Each morning, I wake up to this excruciating nightmare and I don’t know how this can be real.
‘I miss my sweet girl so much,’ she said.
‘I cannot believe I did what I did – but I know her death is my fault. ‘
An unimaginable crime
Lisa was given an automatic life sentence.
She will serve a minimum of 15 years before she can be considered for parole.
She has appealed.
Justice Murray said the court needed to send a strong message to arguing parents that they can’t use their children as ‘pawns in matrimonial or personal disputes’.
‘To describe Teagan’s death as tragic is an understatement,’ she said.
‘It has clearly left a hole that will never be filled.’
That she was taken from all who loved her very much is devastating. In my view, loving someone does not make murdering them less serious. ‘
‘ Her mother was her safety net, her mother was her protector. ‘
Gabe and Stephanie have set up Teagan’s Voice, which advocates for children’s right to protection from violence.
They believe there were warning signs that were ignored, leading to Teagan’s fate.
An innocent child had had her future stolen because of the past. ■