Small group remembers victim of fatal beating
Niece to take ashes back to Nova Scotia
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/05/2011 (4152 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Iris Heald had few friends. And she had no family in the city. But after a violent attack Monday morning on a West End street corner, steps away from her apartment, the 61-year-old woman wasn’t forgotten.
Friday afternoon, a small group of people who knew Heald gathered around a leafy tree to remember a woman whose fatal beating was the city’s 14th homicide of the year.
Four days earlier, Heald died in hospital soon after another woman allegedly threw her down and beat her on the corner of Wellington Avenue and Simcoe Street, metres from a school and a city councillor’s house.
Heald lived alone in a Wellington Avenue apartment, down a shabby hallway and behind a dented door. She was known to neighbours as someone who struggled with inner demons — but would share things such as her computer with a child who didn’t have one.
“It’s just heart-wrenching and disturbing,” said Lori Gallant, Heald’s niece, who flew to Winnipeg to take the woman’s ashes back to her native Nova Scotia. “This was absolutely not right.”
Gallant said her aunt had moved to Winnipeg about 15 years ago and had two adult children who did not live in Manitoba. Heald didn’t work, according to those who knew her, and took joy in animals like cats.
She hated having photos of herself taken and kept only two pictures in her apartment, of Gallant and her family.
“She’ll never be forgotten as far as I’m concerned,” said Gallant.
Police arrested 35-year-old Cynthia Thomas on Wellington Avenue Monday night and charged her with manslaughter, as well as failing to comply with conditions.
She was detained at the Remand Centre. A man helped interrupt the attack, said police, after Heald had struck her head and the woman continued to assault her.
A police spokeswoman said earlier this week officers were considering if a “level of intoxication” played a role in what happened, “more towards the line of the suspect.”
Thomas did not live in the same building as Heald, a neighbour said, but would visit another woman who lives there.
Heather Boychuk, a Simcoe Street neighbour, said she didn’t know Heald’s name but saw her sometimes in the neighbourhood.
It made her sad to think the death would go unnoticed, she said, so she put up a hand-lettered sign saying “God is with you” near where the beating happened.
“It was senseless,” she said.
Coun. Harvey Smith — who owns a home just steps away from where the killing occurred — said he gave police a videotape that contained surveillance footage from cameras mounted on his home.
He said he feels safe living in the area but lamented, “too much violence in the city.”
“I think a large part of it comes from poverty, and we should, as a city, be trying to do something about it,” he said.