Calgary police are looking into the text messages Matthew de Grood sent before five people were stabbed to death at a low-key gathering celebrating the end of university classes earlier this week.
De Grood has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and Jordan Segura, 22.
Two of the five victims lived at the house, Calgary police spokesperson Kevin Brookwell said Thursday afternoon.
Brookwell said de Grood knew at least one person at the party — a family friend whom the 22-year-old had known for a long time.
"I don’t know if everybody knew everybody, but in regard to the accused, he knew one person very well," Brookwell said.
Brookwell said any messages de Grood sent or received electronically will likely come out in court.
"What communications he had, what devices he used, is a significant part of that investigation right now," he said.
"What he said and what the content was, I don’t want to get into that right now."
Brookwell said it’s not known exactly how soon after de Grood arrived at the party that the attacks began and whether he stopped anywhere between work and the party.
"He didn’t show up at the party and start stabbing. How much time he spent mingling, I don’t know that exactly," Brookwell said.
How was he able to stab 5 people?
When asked how someone could stab five people to death without being stopped, Brookwell said police hope to be able to answer that question in time.
"Everyone is trying to get this answer for how this could possibly happen, and did nobody intervene?" he said.
“You don’t know how you may react, and it is quite possible that people didn’t know it was going on or people froze. We know the result, and we hope to get the answers about how it happened and when it happened."
Brookwell said police are not aware of any drugs at the party, and again noted that "it wasn't an out of control party."
He did say that investigators are awaiting toxicology results.
Autopsies on the victims have been completed, and police confirmed the deaths were the result of stabbing.
Thursday afternoon was also the first time that police officially announced the names and ages of the victims.
Accused 'overwhelmed' and 'fearful'
De Grood's lawyer, Allan Fay, says the 22-year-old is overwhelmed but understands the charges he is facing.
Fay told CBC's Calgary Eyeopener that his client, who is being held at a secure psychiatric facility adjacent to the Calgary Remand Centre, is lucid.
"We had a conversation. I'm not trained in that area, but I didn't see anything that caused me undue alarm," said Fay.
"Having said that, he's quite overwhelmed, extremely fearful and distraught.
"And I think that affects his reactions and that sort of thing. But, from my discussions, I'm fully confident that he is aware of the magnitude of what's going on here."
Mental health questioned
Fay refused to comment about speculation by others regarding de Grood's mental health.
Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson told CBC News on Wednesday he expects the accused will be ordered by the court to undergo a psychological assessment — a common occurrence in high-profile homicide cases.
But Fay said it’s his understanding there have been no past indications of mental-health problems with de Grood.
"I'm not aware of any history of mental illness on Matthew's part," he said.
Father tearful during media address
Fay said he is trying to arrange for de Grood’s parents to visit him.
De Grood’s father, a veteran member of the Calgary Police Service, is very distraught over the killings his son is accused of committing, Fay said.
"He, better than most people, understands what can happen from here," Fay said.
De Grood’s father, Insp. Douglas de Grood, is still with the force on active duty. He gave an emotional statement to the media Thursday afternoon, visibly distraught and supported by his wife, Susan.
"We will never recover from this, but the collective support has helped ease some of the pain," he said. "We hope someday we will have answers as to why this happened."
Case against de Grood could take years
Fay said he expects the case against his client will proceed very slowly, beginning with a lengthy preliminary inquiry, followed by jury selection and, finally, a trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
"I would be surprised if it’s not years," he said.
Fay said at this point he has not even spoken with his client about the allegations, only procedural matters.
Investigators with the forensic crime scene unit are continuing to collect evidence at the scene of the killings on Butler Crescent in northwest Calgary — work that could continue until at least Saturday, police said.
Brookwell said there are at least 100 people involved in the investigation, which is going on 24 hours a day.
De Grood is expected to be held in custody until he appears in court next Tuesday.