Fatality inquiry hears teen complained of bullying in group home before suicide

An Edmonton teen living in a group home complained about being bullied by another resident before she hanged herself in a closet, a fatality inquiry heard Monday.

'It’s very painful to have to listen to,' says family member of Kyleigh Crier

Kyleigh Crier, 15, hanged herself in an Edmonton group home in 2014. A fatality inquiry is looking into the circumstances surrounding her death. (Facebook)

A teen living in an Edmonton group home complained she was being bullied by another resident weeks before she hanged herself, a fatality inquiry heard Monday.

Kyleigh Crier, 15, died in a bedroom of the Crossroads House group home two years ago.

Crier struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts and addictions.

Records at the group home reveal Crier alerted staff that she was being threatened by another girl in the home in March 2014, a month before she died.

A staff member testified the Crier, originally from Maskwacis, Alta., went to the office at the group home to say she was afraid the girl was going to hurt her.

On April 16, she reported the other girl was joking that she was going to punch her.

Three days later Crier spoke with her mother Crystal Crier on the phone about the bullying.

Her mother spoke with a staff person about the threats, but the group home worker told her it was the first time she had heard about the issue.

Crier died on April 22.

Family fights back tears

Members of Crier's family fought back tears inside, and later outside, the courtroom as they listened to details of her attempts to deal with the bullying.

"It's very painful to have to listen to," said Marilyn Buffalo.

An assistant manager at the group home told the inquiry that the worker who spoke to Crier's mother was unaware of the bullying because she had missed several shifts when the information was being shared.

The records also show that Crier and the girl she accused of bullying watched TV together and at another time shared a cigarette.

But Crier's family said they felt let down by what they heard.

"Kyleigh was a 15-year-old beautiful woman who was calling out for help and there was nobody there for her," Buffalo said.

Ron Smithman, an Edmonton police officer, said Monday if police had known about the threats, they may have laid charges.

Smithman, a detective at the time, said when he arrived at the group home to investigate Crier's death, the girl accused of bullying her was swearing and shouting, "What are the cops doing here?"

'Extremely intimidating'

"I could see her being extremely intimidating," said Smithman, now an acting Staff Sergeant.

He said the girl admitted to some of the bullying, but said she had apologized to Crier and thought the two had made up.

Smithman said the girl told him she and Crier would do drugs together.

Earlier Monday, the fatality inquiry had heard from the Crossroads staff member who discovered Crier's body.

The group home did not have breakaway bars in the closets, which are designed to collapse under weight in order to prevent hanging deaths.

The bars have since been installed in the home.

The inquiry is scheduled to continue the rest of the week.

Fatality inquiries cannot make any findings of legal responsibility, but the judge could make recommendations to prevent similar incidents.