A book is being released about a man who killed his abusive father near Grande Prairie in 2010.
Photo courtesy of Hingston and Olsen
“There’s a lot of pain going on behind closed doors.”Six years after writing an article on a Grovedale-area man who killed his father, Jana Pruden now feels that it’s time to release a more permanent account.On Sept. 3, 2010, Mat Crichton shot dead his father Sandy on their family farm south of Grande Prairie. Prior to the killing, Sandy had been physically abusing both Mat and his mother Holly for many years.Pruden explained her motivations behind writing the original article about the killing and publishing her book “Fear on the Family Farm.”“It was a really important thing to have on the record, that people knew that this is what happened,” she said. “I also felt that this family could really teach people a lot and that there were a lot of things that other people could learn and I think that was completely shown to be (true) in the reactions that people have had.”Working for the Edmonton Journal at the time, Pruden first learned of the patricide upon hearing that the domestic violence defence would be used for the first time in a father-son relationship. This defence argues that an act of violence was provoked by long-term domestic violence and is typically employed for cases involving spouses.“I just thought I was going to write maybe a little news story and I could tell pretty quickly that this was a really remarkable story,” Pruden said. “I ended up applying to the courts for some documents and I spent about two years trying to convince Holly Crichton to talk to me and she finally did and we did the story.”The Edmonton Journal published the original article, “Fear on the family farm: The harrowing story of a man who killed his father,” on March 23, 2013.The article details how Mat, who suffered a brain injury and partial paralysis years earlier, had returned from his honeymoon only to have his father drive at him with a tractor.In response, Mat got hold of a .22-calibre Ruger pistol and shot Sandy in the base of the neck.Mat pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of a deal and was given four years in prison minus time served.
Holly Crichton and her son Mat who’s back on the farm after serving his sentence for fatality shooting his father, Sandy, in 2010 on the family farm about 30 kilometres south of Grande Prairie on Feb. 23, 2013. The father was physically abusing both Holly and Mat for many years prior to this incident.
ED KAISER /
Pruden, who now writes for the Globe and Mail, decided to revisit the story now that the legal dust has settled. She was also convinced by her publisher Hingston and Olsen that this tale needed to take a more permanent form than an article.“What they were really thinking about was that this story should be given some permanence, that it shouldn’t just be a story that kind of disappeared,” Pruden said. “They wanted to give it this special treatment.”“Fear on the Family Farm” consists of the original article and an afterword that includes a new interview with the mother Holly, who has also released her own book about the incident titled “No Way to Run.”Pruden assured that this wasn’t a “negative” story for the Grande Prairie region. She noted that the support of locals had helped Holly, Mat and their family overcome a multitude of obstacles.“In fact, the community is a big part of this story actually,” Pruden said. “Although we have one person’s bad actions in this book, the rest of the book is full of people who really try to help this family and also just how strong and resilient the people involved are.”“People really did so much to help the Crichtons,” she added. “Holly, I think, has said a lot about the people in that area and everything they’ve done for her.”The book also touches on broader subject matter such as domestic violence.“Domestic violence is an absolutely huge and devastating issue,” Pruden said. “One of the reasons I really believed in telling this story in the first place was because I believed there was a lot people could learn from this family’s experience and it can hopefully save others from something so devastating.”“Fear on the Family Farm” is available for purchase in a limited edition of 300 copies at www.hingstonandolsen.com/fear-on-the-family-farm. A book launch will also be held at the Almanac (10351 82 Avenue) in Edmonton at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4.-With files from the Edmonton Journal