Julie Tran's brother speaks after death of sister and Selma Alem
'Growing up in foster care ... she took care of me and I took care of her,' said Billy Tran
Until today, Julie Tran was known as the developmentally disabled victim of a brutal stabbing that left her and her caretaker dead last month — but now her brother — speaking out for the first time, tells CBC News he wants Calgarians to know she was quirky, full of life and loved flowers.
"I just want people to know that she was so full of colour, she just had so much life to her and so much vigour to her despite her disability," said Billy Tran.
Julie, 25, and Selma Alem were killed at Alem's Coventry Hills home on Oct. 19.
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Alem's son, Emanuel Kahsai, 30, was arrested last week and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Alem and second-degree murder in the death of Julie Tran.
Alem had successfully sought a restraining order against her son who had threatened her in the past and been violent towards her.
That was something the Billy Tran was never told. Something he says makes him angry.
Billy and Julie grew up in foster care in Calgary together. For most of their lives, they were each other's only family. Billy fights through tears when he speaks of his sister.
"I was super close to my sister, growing up in foster care, we were there for each other. She took care of me and I took care of her," said Billy.
Julie Tran suffered a brain injury when she was two years old that left her developmentally disabled. Though she was 25, her brother says she functioned at the level of a 13-year-old.
"She was so happy and so willing to accept the world even though the world didn't want to accept her," he said.
She'd recently completed a floral design course at Mount Royal University. Flowers were her passion.
Alem had another son, Michael, who was killed a decade ago. The pain of that loss left his brother, Emanuel, with drug, alcohol and anger problems, according to court documents.
Tran and Alem were more like mother-daughter than caretaker-client. They would bicker about things like screen time but Billy says his sister loved Alem and wanted to live with her forever.
On Oct. 22, three days after she was killed, Tran was buried in Queensland cemetery. Billy says unknowingly, his sister ended up in the same cemetery Alem, just across from each other.