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This article was published 14/6/2016 (735 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jackie Healey had never suffered a nightmare until after she was almost beaten to death in a savage attack late last month.
Now every time she closes her eyes she sees her attackers.
"During the day I have people around me and I don't think about it. At night, everyone is sleeping. I've been having nightmares, I had a nightmare yesterday: the 16-year-old attacked me and my family. Again. Before this I never had nightmares, not every day. Now I go for a nap and I have nightmares," Healey said at home near Selkirk.
Healey, 23, is the Red River College intern who was wrapping up a work placement the night of May 29 when she and a female support worker were brutally attacked at a Selkirk treatment centre. The Behavioural Health Foundation was empty that night except for the last two teenage boys still in residence before the place was to shut down for good in June.
Both boys, ages 16 and 17, are in custody, charged with aggravated assault, robbery, unlawful confinement and theft of a motor vehicle. RCMP charged a third teen, 17, a former resident, with many of the same charges along with "his role in counselling another person to be party to a criminal offence" last week. He, too, is in custody, but his alleged role in the carnage is still a mystery.
The centre housed teen boys in trouble with the law or kids in child welfare, removed from their homes, mostly from northern First Nations. Healey is also from northern Manitoba. Her mother, Mary, is from God's Lake and the family is well known for their fishing lodge that draw in tourists in love with the wild northern beauty of Manitoba.
Healey spent nine days at Health Science Centre with a fractured skull and broken teeth. The damage was so bad — from being beaten with a baseball bat and pool balls slung in a sock — that she was blinded permanently in one eye. The other victim has yet to speak publicly but her son told media his mother played dead when the same boys attacked her, banking on them ending their assault. She got away and called for help.
Tuesday, Healey shared her memories, jagged clips of the aftermath of the attack and the weird stalking behaviour from one of the two boys leading up to the attack. She's resting at the family's home away from home near Selkirk, waiting to go home to God's Lake Narrows, 550 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
"I don't want to look as awful as I feel," she said, joking about the cosmetic concealer she uses to hide deep facial bruises.
She can't go home to heal in God's Lake Narrows, a remote fly-in northern community next to God's Lake First Nation. Not until doctors are sure the plane's cabin pressure won't drive dozens of tiny skull fragments floating in her brain into an artery. That would kill her.
And Healey desperately wants to live. "When I was doing my makeup, I noticed my eye was swollen so I'll have to get that checked out. They told me when I got out of the hospital if I noticed any swelling, rush in to the hospital, because the bone fragments are near an artery."
She was back at HSC emergency Saturday when swelling behind her ear spread to her neck. "I could barely turn my neck. They asked me if I'd been in the hospital. I said, 'Are you kidding?' I was really scared. I don't want to die."
The night of the attack stands out, not just because of the brutality, but because of the bizarre events leading up to it. One teen taunted her with a broken metal pole, slamming it repeatedly into the cement floor of the building's basement game room.
"He came this close, just staring into my eyes and his pupils were just black, his eyes were so black just staring at me. I got scared then," Healey recalled. That image and the sound of metal slamming into cement from the force of the boy's blows with the metal pole stick with her.
She recalled messaging her sister: "This kid's really acting weird. He's never acted like this before. I feel really nervous." It was that sister, Jamie Healey, who raced to the treatment centre that night. She was confronted with flashing lights from RCMP cruisers and emergency personnel.
The other image is of the baseball bat.
The boys talked the female support worker into unlocking an office to get them a baseball bat. The teen with the pole took the bat and beat the couch in the main floor lounge with it again and again.
"He looked at me and started beating the couch with that baseball bat, staring at me. I said (to the support worker) 'Look at him. Why is he doing that?'" To her credit the worker managed to get the bat away from the boy, temporarily as it turned out.
Healey doesn't remember much after she and the other worker were separated, Healey to take the boys up to their bedrooms on the third floor. By that time, the boys were on separate floors, one with her, the other with the support worker, which she described as a miscalculation and a violation of safety protocols intended to protect them from attack.
She recalled both boys showing up on the third floor with the baseball bat. "I took three steps and I don't remember anything after that," Healey said. Contrary to media reports, she now knows she was attacked on the third floor. "I thought I was attacked on the main floor but they said the office on the third floor was covered in blood, everywhere. Some of the staff couldn't go in there. I don't remember."
She has "little clips of memories" after that, like the sound of her brother's truck being gunned hard and looking up and seeing it shoot down the driveway. Like reaching the main floor, pulling the fire alarm. Like barricading herself in the main office and dialing 911. And her own home.
Like seeing RCMP officers outside the office door window and yelling at them for help.
"My memory is so everywhere, just pieces of it. I don't remember much," Healey said.
One bizarre memory from the rescue stands out. "The cops wanted my clothes and I remember them taking my white vest and me saying, 'What are you doing? That thing's brand new. I can wash that.' Then they showed me it. It was just blood. Everywhere. It was a red vest now. It wasn't my white vest."
Those two floors have been described like a scene from a Hollywood horror film, with blood from repeated blows in both the main floor office and the third floor office.
Healey said she is convinced she and the support worker were targeted for death in the attacks.
"Why did they go after my head, you know? My head was fractured, bones broken, and not my body. They didn't go after my body, just my head."
The 23-year-old explained why she took the unusual step of posting photos and updates on her Facebook account and welcoming media interviews from her hospital bed.
"I wanted to be open about it because it will get other facilities, and other people in this field to take precautions. I thought I was safe. It was my last shift," Healey said. "He was taunting me," she said of the boy with the bat and the pole. "I should have took that as a warning. I didn't know this would happen."
In addition to the RCMP investigation, the province's workplace health and safety division is probing the events of that night. Red River College, where Healey was in the first year of a two-year youth-care worker training program, has pledged to hire an external investigator to examine placement protocols for its students.
Alexandra believes every story has a life of its own with a heartbeat and body and legs. She’ll probe for a pulse and check out its shape from every which way, until she feels it and sees it. So be patient with her. She can be exasperating.