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As new details surface in the investigation into Kenneth Law, representatives for the family of a 17-year-old boy who died after ingesting a chemical allegedly sold by the Ontario man who is speaking out after his death, calling on online retailers to pull the compound from digital shelves.
Lawyers for the family of 17-year-old Anthony Jones, from Detroit, US, told CTV News the teen boy died last year after ingesting sodium nitrite from a website belonging to Law, a resident of Mississauga, Ont.
The Jones’ are just one family who’ve come forward with allegations that substances sold by Law caused the death of their loved ones.
On Tuesday, Peel police charged Law with aiding and abetting the suicides of two Mississauga residents in March, but investigators say they are examining nearly 1,200 packages allegedly sent to 40 countries.
Anthony Jones can be seen above. (Provided by legal representation of the Jones family)
Jones ingested the compound, but said it had changed his mind. Legal representatives said Jones’ family called 911, but the boy died before emergency crews could determine the cause of the poisoning.
“It was 3 am and he went running into his mom’s room, screaming and begging to call emergency responders,” New York, NY, lawyer Carrie Goldberg told CTV News Toronto.
Goldberg said just a teaspoon of sodium nitrite, commonly used in small quantities to cure meat, mixed with water is lethal to humans, calling some of those deaths “excruciating.”
“[Jones] died in the process of them being able to identify what the risk was,” she said.
ADDITIONAL VICTIMS ALLEGED
In the UK, 23-year-old Neha Raju’s death in April 2022 prompted a preventative death report, a copy of which was sent to one of Law’s companies, Imtime Cusine.
The report pointed to the hazards of a drug “freely available to be purchased from the internet in lethal quantities for delivery within the UK,” with “no protection afforded to vulnerable people prior to them making such purchases.”
David Parfett, whose 22-year-old son Tom died after ingesting sodium nitrite, sparked a Times of London investigation into Law’s business.
“You’ve got a man who’s playing God with other people’s lives, recklessly playing God,” Parfett told CTV News last week.
Tom Parfatt can be seen above. (Handout by the Parfatt family)
Before his arrest, Law denied the allegations made against him to at least two media outlets.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT KENNETH LAW?
Law, 57, said in an online post that he’s a former executive and engineer, though the Professional Engineers Ontario said he has paid reduced fees since 2012, meaning he can not practice as an engineer but can continue to use the title.
Sources said he worked as a chef at the Royal York Hotel until recently. The hotel confirmed he’s not currently employed with them.
Some of his websites used the platform of the Canadian company Shopify, which told CTV News it “immediately reviewed and took action to terminate all stores associated with Kenneth Law” once it was notified of a potential policy violation.
In the wake of the arrest, both the Ontario Provincial Police and Peel Regional Police warn the public to be wary if they receive a package from one of the following businesses: Imtime Cuisine, AmbuCA, Academic/ACademic, Escape Mode / escMode, and ICemac .
Archived pages show one of those websites offering sodium nitrate at more than 99 per cent purity, with a label that says “food grade,” a level that would be quickly lethal.
A list of additional products that the archives suggest was available for purchase at least one of the sites includes gas masks, flow regulator kits, and rubber tubing.
FIRST COURT APPEARANCE
Law made his first appearance in a Brampton, Ont., courthouse on Wednesday where his case was adjourned to next week.
The accused appeared via video from a holding cell. He confirmed his identity before seeking the adjourment.
DEATHS ON THE RISE: PATHOLOGIST
Pathologist Dr. Tyler Hickey told CTV News that deaths due to sodium nitrite are rising, from less than one death in Ontario each year before 2018 to 14 in 2020.
“Between myself and my colleagues we have had a couple dozen,” he said, adding it may be time to limit access to the drug before more people get hurt.
Health Canada told CTV News it had been informed by the Toxicoviligance network about the reports to address the trend, and had published guidance for hospitals to stock the antidote methylene blue.
But stopping its sale is complicated, a spokesperson said, because it has legitimate uses in curing food.
“The numerous legitimate uses of sodium nitrate and nitrite for industrial, commercial and consumer applications include its use as a food additive,” a spokesperson for the federal agency said. “Health Canada has assessed the common uses of sodium nitrite and found that when used as intended, it does not pose a risk to human health.”
The Jones’ legal representatives said, aside from their case, they represented about 20 families who were harmed by the sale of sodium nitrate in lawsuits against large online retailers, including Amazon, which has since stopped stocking the substance.
Even with Law in custody, Goldberg warned that there were other sellers and manufacturers out there and that the product needed to be taken out of circulation.
“There’s no experimenting with this,” she said. “It needs to be a regulated product. It’s as deadly as cyanide.”
Anyone who either received a package that they believe is sodium nitrite or has information about the investigation is asked to call the police at 1-888-714-0003 or [email protected].
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Abby O’Brien and CP24’s Aisling Murphy.