Marlene Bird assault: Fear grips Prince Albert in unsolved case
WARNING: Graphic content
The vicious assault of Marlene Bird in a Prince Albert, Sask., parking lot has put the city on edge, leaving many residents fearful that no one has been arrested after the homeless 47-year-old suffered burns so severe that both her legs had to be amputated.
Bird was found June 1 in a shopping mall parking lot in downtown Prince Albert.
"Half of her face was off," Lorna Thiessen, Bird's aunt, told CBC News on Thursday. "It was cut from the centre forehead down the side of her nose, her mouth, and her chin, so they surgically put that back on."
Bird was also severely burned from the waist down. She's being treated at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.
"She's had an amputation to a leg when she came [to the hospital] Monday morning," Thiessen said Thursday. "She's going to be undergoing another amputation on her other leg. She has third-degree burns from her lower bottom back, right down to the bone of her legs."
Family members confirmed to CBC on Friday morning that both her legs have now been amputated.
Police in Prince Albert have released few details.
Fear in the community
"There is a fear in the community," Donna Brooks, CEO of the YWCA in Prince Albert, told CBC News. "I was talking to one woman who is afraid of her grandmother going downtown."
The YWCA is raising money to support Bird's family with expenses in Edmonton. Bird is from the Montreal Lake Cree Nation.
"The family is really in need," Brooks said. "We've reached out to the YWCA Edmonton who has reached out to the family, so there is some help on that end there, but they really need some support so they can be with Marlene."
YWCA raising money for family
The YWCA is welcoming donations to support Bird's family. People can sign a card that will be sent to Edmonton. As well, a fundraising barbecue is set for Tuesday, June 17, on Central Avenue.
The family is also hoping someone with information about what happened will step forward.
"There is a code on the street: 'Don't call, don't get anybody in trouble,'" Thiessen noted. "People are too scared to come forward; they're scared of repercussions."
She hopes someone will make an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Brooks added that Bird's personal circumstances should not deter people from speaking up.
"Sometimes stuff like this gets minimized if it's a homeless person," Brooks said. "This was a very serious, senseless attack on one our citizens and Marlene is just as important as any other of our citizens."
Friends of Bird have described her as kind-hearted and quiet.
"Very nice, always nice," Wesley Yooya, who knew Bird well, told CBC News. He said he is angry about what happened and also afraid that no one has been arrested.
"Of course there is a fear," he said. "That could have happened to one of my family members. I'm scared for my mom. I'm scared for my sisters. I can't watch them all the time, but that's where that fear sets in."
With files from CBC's Ryan Pilon and Bonnie Allen