Disturbing and tragic details emerged at the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry Thursday when family members of Karl McKay and members of the community where the little girl was murdered testified.
The inquiry heard testimony from Florence Bear, a relative of one of the people convicted of killing Phoenix. Bear told the inquiry about one of the few times she saw Phoenix.
The inquiry is examining the circumstances around the death of five-year-old Phoenix. She was killed in 2005 on the Fisher River First Nation. Her mother, Samantha Kematch, and her mother’s boyfriend, Karl McKay, were convicted of first-degree murder in her death.
Phoenix spent much of her short life in the care of several child and family services agencies before she was beaten to death. Her death went undetected by workers for nine months.
Florence Bear is related to McKay, and testified she saw Phoenix through a window in Dallas, Man., once and thought she was a boy.
When asked why Bear thought Phoenix was a boy, Bear answered, "Because she had shaved hair."
Ron Stephenson, Phoenix’s foster-father for a brief time, previously testified Phoenix was often delivered to him with lice or with her head shaved after spending time with Kematch.
Bear told the inquiry she asked McKay if Phoenix was his child. She said he replied, "No, she’s too ugly to be mine. There is no resemblance."
Bear testified she never saw any of McKay and Kematch’s children in their Fisher River home, despite the fact that McKay was claiming benefits for three children.
Bear’s sister, Darlene Garson, later testified she remembered McKay asking to borrow a spade from her in 2005.
McKay later confirmed the spade was used to bury Phoenix after she had been killed.
Keith Murdock, a neighbour of McKay and Kematch, told the inquiry he saw McKay loading up his vehicle with garbage bags late one night.
Murdock testified he called RCMP about the unusual activity around the residence.
Investigators later discovered those garbage bags contained Phoenix’s body.
Angela Murdoch, the couple’s former landlord, testified earlier in the day she never saw any children in McKay and Kematch’s home.
She said her mother handled the rental for her, and she didn’t know anything about the young couple before they moved in.
Once there, she said she never saw any children in the couple’s home and when she tried to collect rent money, Kematch would only open the door a crack.
Eventually, Murdoch testified, she asked them to leave for failing to pay rent.