Author Topic: Debbie Smith - Jan 8, 2007 - 51 - Murdered - Edmonton  (Read 3782 times)


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Debbie Smith - Jan 8, 2007 - 51 - Murdered - Edmonton
« on: October 14, 2007, 02:07:27 PM »
Debbie Smith, 51, was stabbed to death and her body was discovered January 8th, 2007 in her apartment.

Stollery Place opened August 2006, and had only been open for about 4 months when Debbie was murdered. Stollery was built by E4C with funds from the Edmonton Housing and Trust Fund and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It cost $1.3 million and has 18 units. It was built to house those near homelessness or recently mental health issues.

Case status is open and active.
On January 8th, 2007 police found the body of Debbie Smith in an apartment suite in the Stollery Place housing project at 10554 96 Street in Edmonton's inner city.

A call had come in at 11:41 a.m. reporting an unusual death.

Responding officers soon determined that they were dealing with more than a suspicious death and homicide detectives were called in.

An autopsy indicated Smith had been stabbed but police said no further details were to be released citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

630 CHED Radio reported she may have been dead for several days. If so, Smith would have been the second woman found dead in an apartment after a period of time in less than a week.

Homicide detectives released pictures of Smith to media hoping someone may recognise her and remember having seen her downtown.

The woman was last seen in her building between New Year?s Eve and New Year?s Day.

Investigators said they have not established a motive for her homicide and did not comment if anything was missing from her apartment. There were no signs of forced entry and building tenants said they heard no disturbances.

Smith was described as a very trusting person who often let people into her suite.

A police spokesman said the woman had been battling a drug addiction for most of her adult life.

Those with information were asked to contact Edmonton police at 423-4567, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at - a secure tip submission web site.

Debbie Smith's body was first discovered when a facilities manager for E4C, the Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation, used an access key to open the door of her third-floor apartment.

The E4C helps house people at risk of becoming homeless and who may also show signs of minor mental health problems.

The manager wanted to find out why Smith hadn?t paid January's $350 subsidized rent on her bachelor suite. Upon entering he found the body of the woman sprawled on the floor.

?She was obviously deceased,? Judith Paquin, communications manager for E4C, told the Edmonton Journal. ?He closed the door and called police.?

A neighbour said the woman, who was known as ?Debbie,? lived alone. ?I?m very saddened,? she told the Journal. ?She is my best friend. I wasn?t sure if she was dead or alive so I returned to my apartment.?

According to the Journal, Smith had lived in the 18-unit Stollery Place facility since it opened in the fall of 2005 (however, the Edmonton Sun reported E4C operated the building since 2003). Her neighbour said she hadn?t seen Smith since Boxing Day but she was still alive on New Year?s Day.

?They told me she was knocking on my door,? the neighbour said.

Gabriel McEleney, another neighbour, said the dead woman had a boyfriend at one point and her son, one of two grown children, occasionally dropped by to visit.

?Her place was neat and tidy,? said McEleney. ?But she was very sick. She was depressed and on medication. During the day she would read self-help books she got from the Mustard Seed.?

Stollery Place is located close to the Bissell Centre and the Mustard Seed Church ? two places where Debbie was said to have occasionally volunteered.

The discovery of the Smith?s body upset her neighbours and news that it was a homicide made it worse.

?[Our facilities manager] was very upset so we sent him home,? said Paquin. ?We are giving him some time.?

One tenant of the building told the Sun occupants were worried about safety in the three-storey walk-up.

However, Paquin said street people regularly come to visit their friends in the apartments, though none are allowed to stay long-term in the single units.

"The rumour is that some street people come in, not just to Smith's unit, but to other units as well," Paquin said. "There was nothing to indicate that anything bad was going on. It was just the occasion of people visiting because they knew them. It was nothing secret because there was nothing bad about it."

"There are a lot of street people in that neighbourhood," Paquin said. "That doesn't mean street people are bad or criminal or drug addicts.

"There was nothing to put warning bells up."

The Sun's web site hosts a Citytv video from early in the investigation.

On January 11th, 2007 the Edmonton Sun published an interview with a woman who said she smoked drugs with Smith the day before her body was found.

The woman also told the Sun she witnessed an assault on Smith by a large aboriginal man.
Rita Tecomba said she and Smith were smoking crack behind a building near 96 Street and 105 Avenue a day before police discovered her body.

Tecomba said Smith had gotten into an argument with a man who then hit her. "It was something over dope," Tecomba told the Sun.

"She was arguing with him and she went around the corner. She said she was going to come back, but she didn't."

Tecomba said she met Smith a few years ago at the Women's Emergency Accommodation Centre.

An unamed source told the Sun that Smith hadn't showed up for months at the Bissell Centre where she once worked as a volunteer.

Smith told the source that if anything should ever happen to her, she'd like details of her life kept quiet.

"She didn't want her life public." The source added she didn't know why Smith stopped volunteering.

When asked if Smith was in danger over drugs, the source told the newspaper: "There are so many people that are afraid of something happening. I didn't find her more worried than anyone else."

The Edmonton Sun also published interviews with Clay Smith, Debbie's son, and Rose Haugland who once worked with the slain woman.

Together their recollections painted a portait of a gifted woman whose life took a tragic turn when drugs entered her life.

Clay Smith, 22, told the Sun his father Vince and his mother Debbie had sold their 4,000-square-foot home west of Edmonton in the late 1990s because they were "downsizing."

Vince was a succesful industrial contractor and the house they designed and built was something they poured their souls into.

But by the time the house was up for sale the couple had grown apart. "At the end of it, my father and my mother loved each other madly. It was just them taking time to breathe," said Clay.

Vince died in August 2000. Later that year Clay and his mother moved into a house near 118th Avenue and 82nd Street.

"We were doing well," Clay recalled for the Sun. "What ended that abruptly was her introduction to drugs."
He said Debbie had taken in a "wayward soul" out of the goodness of her heart. He introduced her to street drugs, but Clay wouldn't say what kind.

In 2005, Debbie checked herself into the Alberta Hospital "to deal with the addiction and the general condition." Clay said his mother had grown quite depressed. She then moved to Stollery Place where she was later found dead.

Clay said he last spoke to his mother Christmas Eve, when she sent him on his way with a care package of food.

While he could occasionally tell during visits his mother had been using drugs again, Clay disputed reports that she'd become involved with dealing or seriously using drugs.

The Stollery is located in an inner-city neighbourhood populated by the homeless and the working poor.

"She wanted to get out of that neighbourhood so bad, you have no idea," said Clay. "She said she was starting to lose her positive view of humanity."

15 months of being surrounded by the despair and desperation the people in the neighbourhood carry got Debbie down, he recalled.

Clay said he shares his mother's optimism, and hopes her killer will one day be caught. He declined to talk about the investigation.

"I suspect that eventually information will come to light," he said. "I set no deadlines on closure over my mother's death."
Debbie Smith lives on through her art, which lines hundreds of walls throughout North America, said Rose Haugland, owner of Edmonton's Panache Ceramic Industries.

"She was a fabulous artist," said Haugland.

Smith created the original artwork for dozens of moulds that Panache used to form detailed wall tiles that frequently featured animal motifs.

Haugland figures the tiles were shipped to hundreds of homes in Canada and the United States since Panache opened in 1994.

"It's a heritage, isn't it?" said Haugland. "And that's what's so wonderful about art. The person's gone, but they left it behind."
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 02:09:15 PM by Desespere »


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Re: Debbie Smith - Jan 8, 2007 - 51 - Murdered - Edmonton
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2008, 01:47:19 AM »

Debbie Smith, you were a good friend, and artist!

I am happy your killers are caught. You with a heart of gold, a beautiful smile, you will be missed...*   *   *   *

Fifteen months after Edmonton artist Debbie Smith was stabbed to death, police have laid charges against a man and woman.

Police said today that they have charged the pair with second-degree murder in the death of Smith, 51, who was found slain in her Stollery Place apartment at 10554 96 St. on Jan. 8 last year.

?After more than a year of investigating, homicide detectives have charged two people, both of whom were known to the victim,? police spokesman Jeff Wuite said in a statement.

Smith?s son Clay had previously said his mother?s life turned for the worse in 2000, following the death of his father Vince and her introduction to street drugs by a ?wayward soul? she?d taken into her home.

By 2005, Smith had checked herself into Alberta Hospital to deal with addiction and depression.

And she spent the last 15 months of her life at the Stollery, which houses people at risk of becoming homeless or who suffer minor mental illness.

Neighbours reported last seeing Smith alive New Year?s Day last year ? the day after a woman said she?d smoked crack with Smith, who then got into an argument with a man and was hit by him.

But longtime friend Lea Kohler told Sun Media today she prefers to recall the time when Smith, a potter and sculptor, was a respected member of the Edmonton arts scene ? and believes she remained her generous self right up to her death.

?I?m so disappointed she?s gone,? Kohler said. ?I miss her terribly.?

Charged in Smith?s death are Rochelle Jaqueline Lalonde, 24, and Aaron Mathias, 29. Lalonde made a court appearance Wednesday and Mathias appeared today.