For Immediate Release

Candlelight vigil for Cann family victims tonight

Fathers Rights advocates critical of family court in Cann custody case

Norton, MA—Sept. 6, 2007—The Southeastern Chapter of the Fatherhood Coalition is hosting a candlelight vigil Thursday, Sept. 6, 8:00-9:00 p.m. at the Norton Town Common. Norton is the site of the recent slaying of Elizabeth Cann by her ex-boyfriend. Elizabeth, 44, was shot by her ex-boyfriend, Robert McDermott, 39, who also shot the two daughters in the head, leaving them critically injured in the rampage. McDermott then shot himself.

CPF/The Fatherhood Coalition extend their sincerest condolences for the victims and their family and friends, including Elizabeth’s ex-husband, the father of the two girls, Wayne Cann.

Mr. Cann discovered the bodies after he was telephoned by his third daughter, Amanda, 17, who was out of town at the time and grew concerned when she couldn’t contact her family.

The continuing epidemic of discriminatory and bad judicial decisions is resulting in tragic outcomes such as the Cann case. The Family Court harms too many people.

Event coordinator Earl Sholley,
Fatherhood Coalition

According to the Coalition, mistakes made by the Massachusetts Family Court bear some responsibility for the tragedy, and this has been entirely overlooked in the media coverage. Event coordinator and longtime Fatherhood Coalition member Earl Sholley questions the circumstances under which the children were placed in the care and custody of the mother in the first place following the Cann divorce.

Wayne Cann was very unhappy with Elizabeth’s ex-boyfriend, a sometimes violent alcoholic, and feared for the safety of his three daughters. A year ago he tried to obtain custody, filing an emergency petition as well as a criminal complaint against the boyfriend. According to Sholley, he chose not to follow through when it became apparent that the court would not violate tradition of denying fathers custody of their children.

Elizabeth had thrown McDermott out of her home two weeks prior, obtaining a 209A “abuse protection” order against him. The Coalition claims that 209A restraining orders not only fail to protect women from violent men but are actually a direct cause of domestic violence.

According to Coalition Spokesman Mark Charalambous, a long-time critic of the law who has authored several “209A Reform” bills in the past, “only rational men abide by the provisions of a restraining order. Someone angry enough to commit violence, especially murder, is not going to be dissuaded by a restraining order that subjects a violator to a two-and-a-half year jail sentence. Men who commit murder are violent and/or irrational; a piece of paper is not going to influence them.”

“On the other hand,” Charalambous asserts, “a 209A restraining order taken out as a strategic weapon in a divorce/custody battle against an innocent father can turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Losing one’s children, home, reputation--not to mention the economic and financial incentives 209A orders provide to women--can serve to create a violent, irrational man.”

Sholley concurs: “The continuing epidemic of discriminatory and bad judicial decisions is resulting in tragic outcomes such as the Cann case. The Family Court harms too many people.”


For further information, contact:


Earl Sholley
CPF Event Coordinator
(508) 699-3334

Mike Franco
CPF Statewide  Administrator
(413) 246-4438

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman
(978) 840-0268


CPF / The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994