Searching for answers while covering the Calgary stabbings

CBC news anchor Rosa Marchitelli on what it's been like to cover the deaths of five young Calgarians.

CBC's Rosa Marchitelli says the deaths of 5 young Calgarians will forever change how she views the news

Zackariah Rathwell (from left), Lawrence Hong, Kaitlin Perras, Jordan Segura and Joshua Hunter were stabbed last week. The deaths, described by police Chief Rick Hanson as 'the worst mass murder in Calgary's history,' have shocked and saddened many Calgarians. (Photos from Facebook)

You can say it's what I do. Cover the news. It's all about the facts, I tell myself time after time.  But what happened in our city last week will forever change the way I look at what I do as a news anchor.

The day it happened, I co-anchored the news from that Brentwood street. The police tape was up. Investigators were all over the usually quiet neighbourhood. I saw first-hand the shock and tears on people’s faces as they arrived to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial.

To say it's one of those stories that's hard to cover doesn't do it justice. Those words — "the worst mass murder in Calgary's history" — go around and around in my head.

But what are we really talking about here? Five young, promising, beautiful, bright people are dead — Lawrence Hong, Jordan Segura, Kaiti Perras, Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell. All violently killed at a house party. Each one had a life, a family, friends and a future.

Then there's Matthew de Grood, the young man charged with killing them. A university grad with plans to go to law school, a kid who worked at a local grocery store, the son of an inspector with the Calgary Police Service.

Calgary police Insp. Douglas de Grood, with his wife Susan at his side, fights back tears as he speaks publicly for the first time since his son, Matthew de Grood, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder. (CBC)

Insp. Douglas de Grood spoke to the media a few days after his son was charged. With his body and voice shaking while leaning on a cane, his wife Susan by his side, he made what is an impossibly difficult public statement.

Stating his unconditional love for a son who is now facing five counts of the most serious charge under the Criminal Code. Like many people, I sat there watching, both heartbroken for him while also thinking of my kids — the hopes and my fears I have for them.

From a legal perspective, this case is different. The position of the suspect’s father within the police force plays a role in how the courts will handle the case. Prosecutors from Edmonton have been brought in to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

The reaction from our audience has been interesting. A lot of people have been expressing sadness and disbelief. There was also some push-back when we reported de Grood is the son of a high-ranking police officer. 

Does the fact the father is a police officer offer any more insight into this mind-blowing puzzle? We’re not sure. But the entire city is struggling to comprehend how this could happen.

"Just like you, we struggle to understand what happened," said Insp. de Grood, his voice cracking as he fought to hold back tears.

I'm not sure we'll ever have the answers — even if we eventually do learn all the facts.


Rosa Marchitelli is a national award winner for her investigative work. As co-host of the CBC News segment Go Public, she has a reputation for asking tough questions and holding companies and individuals to account. Rosa's work is seen across CBC News platforms.