'I always called her unbreakable': Regina woman remembers friend murdered in N.L.
Taylor Balfour has now lost 2 classmates — Ryanna Grywacheski and Hannah Leflar — to homicide
When someone told Taylor Balfour they were sorry to hear about her friend on Tuesday, she had to wonder, "which one?"
In the space of three years, two of the 19-year-old's friends have been killed in homicides involving men they had been in relationships with.
Her school friend, Hannah Leflar, was stabbed to death in Regina in January 2015 by her ex-boyfriend, Skylar Prockner.
When Balfour heard that another school friend, 18-year-old Ryanna Grywacheski, had been killed in what police say was a murder-suicide on the weekend, she almost didn't believe it.
"When you're 19, you shouldn't have to think, 'Which murdered friend are they talking about?'" she told CBC News on Tuesday.
Grywacheski was found dead in a basement apartment in Marystown, N.L., on Saturday.
Jeff Kilfoy, 37, died as a result of suicide and the two were in a relationship, according to police. His body was found on a trail near the apartment.
Family says 'not enough words' to describe Ryanna
In a written statement on behalf of Grywacheski's family, her aunt Cornelia Behr said there were "not enough words" to describe the "sweet young woman, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin."
"She was always smiling and willing to lend a helping hand. She was passionate about anything she set her mind to. She loved animals. She loved to bake and cook. And she was a very talented and creative artist who aspired to become a welder."
In 2013, Grywacheski was hit by a car. The statement says after months of rehabilitation, she struggled with depression.
"As many her age do, she also struggled with finding her own path. But she was unique and never afraid to be herself. She was strong, and overcame many obstacles in the short time she had with us all."
Big, kind heart
Balfour remembers Grywacheski as a lonely but kind-hearted girl with a big smile.
"The vibe people get when you pass her in the halls was that she was really rough and tough and scary," she said.
"But if you even said hi to her, she broke out in the biggest smile, and she was the sweetest person and she had such a beautiful heart."
The two became friends in the ninth grade, when they started sharing hot chocolate before school while they were waiting for classes to start.
Balfour said even after Grywacheski was injured in the car accident in 2013, she stayed positive throughout the recovery process.
Grywacheski was 'unbreakable'
Balfour was impressed by her strength and courage, saying she would always call Grywacheski "unbreakable."
Grywacheski was a skilled welding artist, Balfour said, producing sculptures so professional it seemed impossible they were made by a high school student, she said.
They last spent time together at their school's graduation and prom in 2016, which Balfour said she attended with a date who was not Kilfoy.
She said they never spoke about boys at school, and that she wasn't aware that Grywacheski was in a relationship with Kilfoy.
"She only had very few close friends and so I don't think a whole lot of people knew what was going on in her life and she didn't choose to broadcast it a whole lot, she kept a lot of things to herself," said Balfour.
The teen added that she always tried to reinforce to Grywacheski that she was deserving of the best in life, but she's not sure her friend believed her.
"She didn't deserve what happened to her but I want her to be remembered for who she was and not for how she died, because she's worth that," said Balfour.
A little over two years ago, the 19-year-old was coming to terms with the death of another classmate, Leflar.
Speaking at the funeral in 2015, she said it was hard to believe how fast someone can be taken away.
Sask. has high domestic homicide rate
From 2000 to 2010, Saskatchewan had 58 domestic homicides, the highest rate in Canada during that time, according to Statistics Canada.
In Ontario, every death caused by domestic violence has been reviewed since 2003, but Saskatchewan did not start reviewing domestic homicides until 2015.
The decision to start investigating the deaths followed three murder-suicides in eight months, a spike described by then Saskatchewan chief coroner Kent Stewart as a "wake-up call."
In May, 2017, the province was still conducting its in-depth review of six cases from 2004 to 2015, a period during which 48 people died. The review is expected to be completed this fall.
Mariann Rich, whose sister Shirley Parkinson was bludgeoned to death in her sleep by her husband in 2014, told CBC News in May the province's review of fatal domestic violence cases does not go far enough.
She said it should look at all cases of domestic violence if it is to make a difference.
With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger