Saskatoon Woman Pleads Guilty to Abducting Child, Faking Deaths

Dawn Walker is seen in this Saskatoon Police Service handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service

Dawn Walker, a Saskatoon woman who had previously denied charges of abducting her child and faking their deaths, has pleaded guilty to three offenses.

In Saskatoon provincial court on Thursday, Walker admitted to abduction in contravention of a custody or parenting order, making false and misleading statements to obtain a passport, and possessing forged documents with the intention of committing an offense. The charges are in relation to a high-profile incident last year when Walker and her child went missing, leading to an extensive search.

Walker, 49, and her child were reported missing on July 24, 2022, after her pickup truck was found near a river at Chief Whitecap Park south of Saskatoon. This led to fears that the pair had drowned and prompted a massive missing persons investigation. The two were found safe in Oregon City 12 days later, thanks to police following bank transactions for gas, food, Netflix, and Airbnb rentals.

Following their discovery, U.S. officials sent Walker back to Canada to face criminal charges. She still faces charges in the U.S. of felony aggravated identity theft and misdemeanour identity theft.

In court, the Crown and defense made a joint submission asking for a 12-month conditional sentence, which would allow Walker to serve it in the community, followed by 18 months of probation. Judge Brad Mitchell is set to consider the request and decide on a final sentence.

The Crown cited various aggravating factors in the case, including months of planning by Walker, her staging an apparent abduction scene by Saskatoon’s river bank, and the case having cost at least $100,000 in public resources. However, they also noted mitigating factors, such as Walker pleading guilty, being remorseful, complying with bail conditions, and undergoing a psychological report that showed a low risk of reoffending.

Walker was represented in court by Marie Henein, one of Canada’s best-known defense lawyers. After her detention in 2022, Walker issued a statement saying she was a victim of domestic abuse and had no choice but to flee the country with her child. In an earlier statement following her arrest, Walker defended her actions, saying she was “left with no choice.”

Saskatoon police have said that Walker had previously made domestic violence allegations, but no charges resulted from those claims.