WARNING: This story contains content some readers may find disturbing.
Crystal McFadyen won’t be defined by the horrific discovery of her body following a house fire three years ago, her father said at the steps of a Saskatoon courthouse.
Rather, she’ll be remembered for the extent to which she lived life as a “total person,” who brought joy to everyone she knew. The 37-year-old was a passionate drummer with the North Saskatchewan Regiment and often fundraised for charitable causes. She loved travel, friends, family and rescue dogs.
She couldn’t wait to be a mother. She was eight months pregnant at the time she was murdered in early July 2018. Her unborn daughter didn’t survive.
Jonathan Rosenthal, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder Monday. He was the child’s father. Canadian law prevents a person from being charged for the death of an unborn baby.
“Not only did he murder my daughter, he murdered his own. I don’t know how you’re going to live with that,” said Myron Louis, Crystal’s father.
Justice Gerald Allbright accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence, sentencing Rosenthal to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.
An autopsy determined Crystal was dead before Rosenthal doused her Avenue F North house in fuel and set it ablaze on July 6, 2018. Her cause of death was recorded as excessive blood loss due to a deep slashing of the neck.
Court heard Rosenthal was staying with Crystal on the weekends, while living with his wife during the week. Crown prosecutor Carla Dewar told court Rosenthal concocted a “fabrication of incredulous stories,” including plans to move with the victim to Lloydminster. He showed her pictures of a house he said he purchased for them.
On another occasion, he claimed he and his wife would care for the baby after Crystal gave birth.
Crystal’s family was concerned about the woman’s whereabouts, saying that after being distant for months, she hadn’t communicated with them at all. Rosenthal lied to police, saying she’d visited a friend in Regina.
“It’s an unusual case full of lies, deception and ultimately violence,” Dewar said.
Rosenthal initially denied any involvement in Crystal’s death, directing Saskatoon police to another suspect. He told officers that blood on his shoes was a result of his job as a butcher. DNA proved it belonged to Crystal.
On July 5, Rosenthal used Crystal’s phone to text her parents, saying she was fine and wanted them to call off a missing person’s report.
“The tone of the messages was getting more and more angry with them,” Dewar told court. “Very out of character.”
Rosenthal also disposed of evidence and used Crystal’s bank card after her death.
When confronted by police about the evidence mounting against him, Rosenthal eventually admitted that he killed Crystal. He said Crystal stated the baby wasn’t his and a fight ensued, though there is no evidence to support his claim.
Defence lawyer Carson Demmans said it’s no excuse for Rosenthal’s actions, but his client was an alcoholic who was prescribed medication for anxiety and depression and may have used methamphetamine before the killing.
Prior to Crystal’s death, he did not have a criminal record.
“This is not an individual who is a career criminal and has become hardened by the criminal justice system,” Demmans said.
Delivering his sentence, Justice Allbright said Rosenthal carried out “gratuitous violence” followed by an attempt to cover up evidence.
“You tried to weave a web of deception — an extensive web of deception.”