VANCOUVER - The last time James Shelswell saw his daughter Clare was two years ago in Vancouver.
Clare, Shelswell and his other daughter Suzanna, who was six at the time, had gone to the Vancouver Aquarium, followed by a trip to McDonald's.
“The kids were having a great time,” Shelswell, 48, told The Vancouver Sun from his Calgary home Tuesday night. “We saw all the fish and goofed around. Even the lady at McDonald’s commented, ‘Jeez, you’ve got good kids.’”
That visit was only the fifth in five years, Shelswell said, after his wife Sarah Wilson divorced him and moved to Abbotsford from Calgary with the girls, limiting his visits.
Clare was only four months old at the time.
“Every time I phoned, it was a big hassle to see them,” he said. “I just kept paying everything. It burns me; it just burns me. You’re paying all this money and you can’t see your kids. I should have hired a lawyer, but I’ve only got so much money.”
Clare died over the weekend while vacationing with family at Lake Cushman in Washington state, about 200 kilometres south of Vancouver.
Her stepfather, Peter James Wilson, 29, was arrested Sunday evening in Hoodsport, Wash., on the Olympic Peninsula after police arrived at a two-storey rented vacation cabin to discover the little girl's throat had been slashed.
According to a statement released by the Mason County Sheriff's Office, Wilson had told a detective he killed his stepdaughter with a knife he found on the kitchen counter after fighting with his wife about disciplining the children.
Shelswell said he found out about the grisly murder through his brother, who learned of it from media reports and called him from his home in Abbotsford at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“[Sarah Wilson] didn’t call me, the Americans didn’t call me. The last name of the kids is Shelswell. They could have called me; I am the father,” he said angrily.
Shelswell had only met his ex-wife's new husband a couple times and did not know about his bipolar disorder, or that he was on medication.
Shelswell said “death is too good” for Peter Wilson and hopes he “suffers for the next 20 years.”
“What goes around comes around, and I hope it comes around. He should be made to suffer. Somebody who does that to a five-year-old girl?”
He is “devastated” he was not able to protect Clare.
“You’re not supposed to outlive your kids,” he said, sobbing. “You’re supposed to be gone before them.
That’s the way it should be, you know? You’re 80, they’re 40.”
With files from Darah Hansen
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