20th February 2024

Editor’s note: If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health there are a number of ways to get help, including by calling Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566. A list of local crisis centres is also available here.

A Colorado family is calling for justice after the death of their 20-year-old daughter appears to be linked to a Mississauga man who has been charged with aiding and abetting suicide through the sale and distribution of sodium nitrite.

Police in countries from the U.S. to Italy are checking in on people who may have received some of the hundreds of packages tied to Kenneth Law’s companies.

Colorado’s David Ramirez told CTV News Toronto that an officer visited his home on Wednesday to tell their family of the connection between his daughter Noelle’s death in March and the product, sodium nitrite, that she ordered online from a company connected to Kenneth Law.

“We’ve lost a child, a best friend,” Ramirez said. “It’s such a loss and such a void that we know will never be filled, and we’re so hurt because of that. We loved her so dearly.”

Noelle was smart and loved computers and science – she was even taking a trip to see the Space Shuttle, he said. But she was also troubled, and stumbled on a website that encouraged its users to try to kill themselves.

The family received one package from “Icemac” — one of the companies associated with Law — before her death and another one after, which they photographed and shared the photo with CTV News Toronto.

Many references to sodium nitrite could be found on that website, which CTV News Toronto is choosing not to name. There were also several references to Law and his products, mentioned by name.

“It’s mind-blowing. It’s heart-wrenching,” Noelle’s mom, Sara Ramirez, said. “I feel for the other families. I mean, we’re scared — how can this happen?”

Noelle Ramirez joins several others whose deaths are linked to sodium nitrite allegedly sold by Law, including 17-year-old Anthony Jones from Michigan, 23-year-old Neha Raju and 22-year-old Tom Parfett from the U.K.

Italian media reported that the death of a 63-year-old teacher was also connected to the investigation.

On Tuesday, Peel Regional Police charged Law with aiding and abetting the suicides of two Mississauga residents in March. Investigators say they are tracing nearly 1,200 packages allegedly sent to 40 countries.

Law, 57, told a Times of London reporter he is not responsible for what people do with his products.

He was once a practicing engineer in Ontario and, more recently, a chef at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, though he does not work there anymore.

Documents show he declared bankruptcy in 2020, owing $134,700 to assets of just $3,700. The trustee cited the “general mismanagement of finances coupled with [an] inability to find work during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Law is in custody, awaiting a bail hearing in the case. He has only been charged in connection with two deaths in Mississauga and is innocent until proven guilty.

From the U.K., Lee Cooper said his 41-year-old brother Gary Cooper may have received a package from one of Law’s companies before he died last year.

 “It was horrendous. It still is. It destroys a family. It’s not just death, it makes you ask so many questions. What if this, what if that, what could have been done different,” he said.

 Cooper believes his brother learned about the products through an online forum — the same one identified by the Ramirez family.

 When CTV News Toronto looked at the site, there were several clear references to a “KL” who sells “SN” — even one reference by name to a “Kenneth Law.”

 Cooper said he hopes authorities broaden the scope of what they are looking at from the alleged seller of sodium nitrite to how he believes young people are introduced to it and encouraged to take it online.

 “I want to see anybody who has had a hand in assisted suicide related to Kenneth Law or related to that forum to face justice,” Cooper said.

 The Ramirez family said they wanted to come forward to let people know about the pain they are going through and hope it would encourage the authorities to keep pushing for justice in this case.

 “You would not sell a gun to someone who has mental problems. But you can easily get something online that has the same effect,” David Ramirez said.

Ramirez adds police should be scrutinizing the website as well.

 “I don’t know how a website like that can even be out there. They’re egging each other on. It’s horrible,” he said.