'I'm still haunted': Witness to Alberta murders copes with trauma, survivor's guilt

For the past three and a half years, Dale Holloway has been tormented by the horrific things he saw and the guilt he feels that couldn't save another man's life. This is his story.

'His chest and arms are covered in blood ... he's walking towards me'

Daniel Goodridge, 31, is expected to find out Thursday whether a judge will declare him not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for stabbing two people to death. (Jim Stokes )

Dale Holloway can't escape the real-life nightmare he survived.

Or the guilt he feels.

Every time he has a shower, every time he has a moment alone, it plays on a constant loop inside his head.

It's been more than three years since a frenzy of violence at an isolated work camp in northern Alberta ended two lives and changed Holloway's forever.

Last week, after he testified at the double first-degree murder trial of a former co-worker named Daniel Goodridge, Holloway asked the victims' families to return to the courtroom so he could speak to them.

"There were 40 to 50 people in there," Holloway told CBC News. "And that was actually the hardest part. I really broke down when I walked in and so many family members were there.

Holloway said he wanted to answer any questions they might have about what happened on that June night in 2015 when Dave Derksen and Hally Dubois were stabbed to death. What their final moments were like.

'I struggled with guilt'

He wanted to apologize for not doing more.

One of Derksen's brothers later told CBC News the families absolved Holloway unequivocally, and tried to relieve the burden of guilt he has been carrying so long.  

"For a long time, I struggled with guilt, and the fact they didn't live and the fact that I did, I guess," Holloway said in an interview. "And what I could have done differently so they would have survived."

Holloway said for the first year after the murders, he kept thinking he should have armed himself with a piece of wood, or something to defend himself. Something that might have incapacitated Goodridge.

"But since then," Holloway said, "I've come to the realization there were only two outcomes. If I had attacked Daniel, either I would have died or he would have died. There was nothing in between. So I would have either died or I would have had the guilt of taking another life on my hands. There was no other option."

Holloway said he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I have re-lived this every day," he said. "Trying to think what I could have should have done differently. I have now accepted that I would do the same thing."

Holloway was on the verge of sleep on the night of June 30, 2015, when he heard people running down the hallways, then a woman screaming.

The 42-year-old married father got dressed and stepped out of his room, prepared to break up a fist fight. Instead he saw blood, lots of blood. He followed the trail and saw a struggle between Goodridge and Derksen.

The blood-soaked scene of the deadly battle in June 2015 between Dave Derksen and Daniel Goodridge. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

Derksen told him he had been stabbed, then managed to stumble outside. Goodridge followed, holding a knife.

Holloway put on his shoes and went out. Derksen was on his back on the ground, with Goodridge crouched over him, stabbing him repeatedly.

The scene still gives Holloway nightmares.

"I have an image of Daniel where he's wearing checkered black-and-grey pyjama bottoms and nothing else," Holloway said. "He doesn't have shoes on. He doesn't have a shirt on of any kind. His chest and arms are covered in blood and glistening with the light reflecting off him. His hair is just wild, almost afro like. And his eyes are wide. His eyes are glowing. And he's walking toward me.

"That's the image of Daniel that's been in my head for three and a half years."

Dave Derksen and Hally Dubois were stabbed to death at a work camp outside Fox Creek, Alta., on June 30, 2015. (Supplied )

Goodridge stabbed Derksen more than 70 times. Holloway kept begging him to put down the knife. At that point, he had no idea Goodridge had already attacked another camp worker. Hally Dubois had been stabbed 11 times when she tried to convince Goodridge to put down the knife.

After he realized Derksen was dead, Holloway decided to leave before Goodridge turned on him with the knife.

 If I had attacked Daniel, either I would have died or he would have died. There was nothing in between.- Dale Holloway

Dale Holloway says he has spent a lot of time thinking about what happened on June 30, 2015, at a work camp near Fox Creek, Alta. (Facebook/Dale Holloway )

'I'm still haunted, I guess'

After the killings, Holloway was no longer able to keep working as an electrician at remote camps. He's now a kitchen manager at a retirement home in the Okanagan. He knows all the residents by name. He said he feels safe there.

"I'm still haunted, I guess," he said. "I'm very careful with what I watch on TV. I stick to a lot of Disney shows. Because if I don't ... I have difficulty sleeping."

Being in the same room with the killer last week was not a trigger, he said, because Goodridge looks much different than he did the night of the stabbings.

"I didn't recognize Daniel," Holloway said. "Daniel has gained a lot of weight. My best description of him now is that he's a pillow. He looks a lot softer. I wouldn't have recognized him if I walked by him on the street."

Verdict expected Thursday

Two mental health experts who testified for the Crown told court Goodridge should be found not criminally responsible for his crimes because he was psychotic at the time, and was unable to appreciate whether his actions were morally right or wrong. 

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Ken Nielsen is expected to hand down his decision Thursday morning in Grande Prairie.

A verdict will be delivered Thursday morning at the Grande Prairie Court of Queen's Bench. (Janice Johnston/CBC)

Holloway said he's prepared for the possibility that Goodridge may be sent to a psychiatric hospital, rather than a prison.

"What I'm not prepared for," he said, "is if Daniel is free in a few years. I don't know if I will ever be comfortable knowing that Daniel is walking free."

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston