Toronto Star, October 21, 2002

By Dale Brazao

Having never talked publicly about his role in the rape and murder of Toronto shoeshine boy Emanuel Jaques, Robert Kribs finally broke his silence in Kingston last week.

He told his story at a parole board hearing at Kingston Penitentiary. He requested the hearing to seek parole but then told the three-member panel he should be kept in prison for the rest of his life.

Kribs did not give police a statement at the time of his arrest and pleaded guilty during the seven-week trial 25 years ago.

But at last week's hearing Kribs admitted he sexually assaulted the boy and handcuffed him to his bed to prevent his escape from his apartment but claims he was out of the room when Saul Betesh drowned the youngster in a kitchen sink.

"I'm guilty of murder. The boy died on my shift," Kribs said.

He told the panel he was raised to accept responsibility for his actions - and that's what he did when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 1978, and that's what he was doing now.

"My feeling is that I should spend the rest of my life in prison," Kribs said. "As far as I'm concerned, if you do something like that you should never get out. I should die in prison."

The hearing took place in a cramped boardroom where Kribs, wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, sat across the table from the trio deciding his fate.

Parole board members took only 45 minutes to decide against releasing Kribs, now 54, saying his failure to undergo a clinical treatment program for sexual offenders made him a high risk to reoffend if released into the community.

Kribs, Betesh, Josef Woods and Werner Gruener were charged in Emanuel's murder. Kribs and Betesh were convicted of first-degree murder, Woods was convicted of second-degree murder and Gruener, who opened the back door to a body rub parlour so Betesh could bring the boy in, was acquitted.

Members of the Jaques family reacted with relief, tempered by the knowledge that Kribs, sentenced to life in prison, can apply for parole every two years, now that he's served the 25-year mandatory part of his sentence.

The family has been upset at news of Kribs' possible release, Valdemira Jaques, 42, said. Her parents both suffer from heart ailments and the stress on them has been tremendous.

"A little bit of them died with my brother," she said. "They've never been the same since that day. None of us have."

She said the family had made a pact to protect their parents following the grisly murder. Her dad, Valdemiro, 69, has had triple bypass surgery and her mother, Maria, 60, wears a pacemaker.

"Nobody can imagine what we've been through," said Valdemira, who was 16 at the time and the only member of the family to attend the trial.

"The day we got home from the funeral, somebody called our house and said they would kill every one of us."

Emanuel Jaques disappeared from the downtown Toronto corner of Yonge and Dundas streets on July 28, 1977, as he was shining shoes with his older brother, Luciano, and his best friend.

The 12-year-old's body was found four days later, buried under a pile of rubble on the roof of the Charlie's Angels body rub parlour on Yonge Street, less than 100 metres away.

The boy was out earning money to buy food for a puppy he was getting from a neighbour when Saul Betesh offered the trio $35 to help move some photographic equipment.

While Luciano was at a phone booth asking his parents' permission, Emanuel went off with Betesh.

But instead of moving equipment, the little boy was kept as a sex slave in Kribs' apartment for 12 hours, made to pose nude and repeatedly raped by both Kribs and Betesh.

Kribs, a drifter who worked for a time as a teenage prostitute in Vancouver and had a lengthy criminal record for property offences across the country, settled in Toronto in 1976, working as a part-time bouncer at the body rub parlour.

He said he met Betesh, also a male prostitute and go-go dancer, through their mutual love for CB radios. Kribs said he believed Emanuel was a street hustler when Betesh called him that day in July, wanting to know if he wanted to share a boy he'd picked up on Yonge Street - what was a seedy city thoroughfare at the time.

The price quoted was $35, Kribs said.

"I thought he'd agreed to have sex for money," Kribs said. "That's what I was told."

Although he had oral sex with the boy, Kribs denied Betesh's statement to police that he'd had anal sex with the youngster. "That would be too much like having sex with a woman."

Asked how the boy reacted to what was being done to him, Kribs said he was calm, "very brave."

"Actually, he co-operated. I guess he was resigned to what we were going to do. He was brave. He didn't cry. He co-operated."

But under intense questioning by board members, Kribs admitted the boy did cry.

After the sex attacks, Kribs said the discussion turned to what to do with the boy. An attempt by Woods to drug Emanuel with an intravenous injection of sleeping pills failed, as did an attempt by Betesh to strangle him with a cord.

Kribs said he had suggested they drug the boy and dump his unconscious body in a nearby park. But while he was out of the room, Betesh took matters into his own hands and drowned the youngster in the kitchen sink.

The men then decided to dump the body in a ventilation shaft on the roof of the body rub parlour.

Kribs and Betesh both became eligible for parole on Aug 1. Betesh waived his right to a hearing, but Kribs decided to go ahead with his, parole board officials said.

Although he has undergone anger and emotional management programs, Kribs has so far refused to submit to a high-intensity sexual-offender program, which is carried out at a mental hospital within Kingston Penitentiary.

Kribs said he has had trouble "wrapping his mind" around the treatment and is afraid the six to nine months he'd have to spend at the institution would mean he would lose his job in the prison yard and his place in the range, where he is comfortable with his fellow inmates.

His move to a medium-security prison several years ago was a disaster when he was forced to double bunk with someone who didn't like him very much.

"We had six fights in six days," said Kribs, who asked to go back to Kingston.

Evidence presented by his parole officer during the two-hour hearing showed Kribs has been a "model prisoner" there.

Kribs said he doesn't drink alcohol or use drugs, that marijuana gives him a headache, and he hasn't had sex with anyone in 25 years or developed a "relationship" with anyone in prison.

He told board members he is now willing to undergo the recommended treatment in an attempt to find out what made him do what he did. He said he wanted written directions from them as to what he had to do to gain his freedom.

Kribs said he has family across Canada but hasn't had contact with anyone since his mother died a year ago. His son is a police officer in Calgary.

Nicknamed "Stretcher" because of his six-foot-five frame, Kribs looked fit, but his grey moustache and swept-back hair betrayed his 54 years.

He spoke calmly through the proceedings, but became visibly agitated when the questioning turned to what role Betesh and Woods had played in taking Emanuel's life.

"I live in a culture here where basically I can't be talking about it or I could get killed," Kribs said. He added that for the first 10 years of his life at Kingston he didn't talk to Betesh, but he has long since "forgiven" him for his role in the murder.

Woods was transferred to a maximum security prison out west several years ago, after he stabbed Betesh. Prison officials said Woods, who became eligible for parole after serving 18 years, has been denied his freedom on five occasions.

Three days after Emanuel went missing, Betesh walked into a downtown police station and confessed to the crime, naming all those involved.

Kribs, Woods and Gruener were pulled off a train in Northern Ontario as they were heading for Vancouver.