Young man charged with 1st-degree murder in Elisabeth Salm homicide

An 18-year-old man is facing a charge of first-degree murder in last week's death of 59-year-old Elisabeth Salm, a volunteer for the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

Teen Tyler Hikoalok's bail hearing scheduled for June 5

Elisabeth Salm, 59, was found beaten in a Christian Science reading room in downtown Ottawa on Thursday afternoon, and died in hospital Friday. (Facebook)

An 18-year-old man is facing a charge of first-degree murder in last week's death of 59-year-old Elisabeth Salm, a volunteer for the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

Salm was found badly beaten Thursday afternoon in a reading room the church operates at 141C Laurier Ave. W in downtown Ottawa. She died in hospital the following day and Tyler Hikoalok was arrested Sunday.

The teen, who turned 18 in January, was previously known to police, according to major crime unit Staff Sgt. Steve Kerr.

He appeared briefly in court Monday morning and a bail hearing was scheduled for June 5.

Tyler Hikoalok has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 59-year-old Elisabeth Salm. (www.tr1bemusic.com)

Hikoalok's defence lawyer, Michael Smith, said he's waiting for disclosure from the Crown and that it's too early to tell whether a psychological evaluation will be ordered or a Gladue report will be requested.

The Gladue principle states that judges should consider an Indigenous offender's history in sentencing, taking into account personal experience with residential schools, the foster care system, and physical or sexual abuse.

According to a short biography posted on Tr1be Music Academy's website, Hikoalok ("Ty Millz") is from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, who was placed into foster care at age nine and taught himself to make music.

Justin Holness, who runs the academy, said he was upset when he heard Hikoalok is alleged to have been involved in Salm's death.

'I'm still shocked'

"I'm still shocked because violence toward women, and violence of any sort, especially in this capacity, is unacceptable," Holness said in an interview by phone Monday.

"But the key thing that needs to be highlighted is the importance around mental health and intergenerational trauma."

Flowers adorn the entrance to the Christian Science Reading Room in Ottawa on Monday, where 59-year-old volunteer Elisabeth Salm was badly beaten Thursday afternoon. Salm died on Friday. (Kristy Nease/CBC)

Hikoalok didn't like to talk about his troubles, Holness said.

"I asked him constantly, is everything OK, what's going on, and he never told me any of his challenges.... And so I never knew that there was a deeper problem. I always just knew he was ... in and out of group homes, and so the studio was one place that he felt safe. It was one place that he found a sense of purpose to try and be positive, to do something positive."

Holness last saw Hikoalok on Wednesday, the day before the assault on Salm.

"That was the first time he had been back in the studio for a long time. He actually wasn't involved for a few months, and we never knew why. We knew he was going through things, but like I say he never told us anything," Holness said.

"The only thing was I could smell alcohol, and I asked him, have you been drinking? And he's like, 'Yeah, I've been drinking earlier today.'"

Holness said he urged Hikoalok to get clean and to keep coming to the studio. A lyric Hikoalok wrote that day read, "I need to be in the studio and not in the trap."