Kathleen Leary homicide: 'Tragic ending for capable, caring person'

The woman found dead inside her Winnipeg home on Tuesday has been identified as Kathleen Leary.

UCN president, Norway House Cree Nation Chief say her death a loss for northern Manitoba

Kathleen Leary homicide: 'Tragic ending for capable, caring person'

7 years ago
Duration 1:49
The woman found dead inside her Winnipeg home on Tuesday has been identified as Kathleen Leary. 1:49

The woman found dead inside her Winnipeg home on Tuesday has been identified as Kathleen Leary.

The identity was confirmed by officials with Norway House Cree Nation, which is Leary's home community. She was recently the executive director for Norway House Cree Nation Health Services.

Leary, a grandmother, was killed inside her home on Cheltenham Cove, in Winnipeg's Charleswood neighbourhood around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

When police arrived, she was found suffering from injuries to her upper body and later died.

Passionate about UCN, community

Leary had a long history with University College of the North, according to UCN president Konrad Jonasson.

She was passionate about the role UCN played in northern Manitobans' lives and advocated that some of its services reach out to the surrounding community, he said. 

But Jonasson says it's his personal connection that has him reeling in reaction to the news of her violent death at her home in Winnipeg Tuesday night. 
Kathleen Leary was found dead inside her Charleswood home on Tuesday. (Facebook)

"It was absolutely one of shock. You know, Kathleen has been such an influential individual in northern Manitoba in so many different areas. She was such a strong advocate for her community," he said.

"Even in the days when she worked for the community and I worked for UCN, we wouldn't always see eye-to-eye on a number of issues. But I always came away impressed that she was fighting for her community.

"Such a tragic ending for such a capable person, a caring person, for one who was so community-minded and was always thinking of what was best for her community."

Jonasson said he didn't know any of the details of what happened.

He said Leary had recently retired, and leaves four girls, one of whom is a doctor, another who is deeply involved in coaching hockey for indigenous children. 

"Kathleen was a very proud parent and one who supported her girls to the full extent that she was able to," Jonason said. "She in turn has a large extended family and absolutely, the community of Norway House benefited greatly by Kathleen's efforts on their behalf."

'Huge loss for northern Manitoba'

Jonasson said UCN and people across northern Manitoba have lost a tireless advocate. 

"It's absolutely a huge loss for northern Manitoba because Kathleen was so actively involved in so many different initiatives over the years that really lead to improvements of the north, for her own community of Norway House Cree Nation and for all the members of that community."

Norway House Cree Nation Chief Ron Evans says Leary was a hardworking and focused person and spent most of her life working for the community.

Evans says over the span of her career, she was the director of education, director of health and director of operations in Norway House. 

He says he has sent the family his condolences and has reached out to her brother to see what the family needs.

Neighbours 'terrified'

Police on scene at home on Cheltenham Cove on Wednesday. (Holly Caruk/CBC)
Leary's two-storey home was surrounded by caution tape and remained that way Wednesday as investigators continued to go through the property.

No arrests have been made and no further information is available from police.

People on the quiet bay want to know if the homicide was targeted or random.

"If it's a target, you feel safer, unfortunately. But if it's random, you're terrified," said Twyla Budz, who lives near Leary's home.

"We all have kids. We all have families. This is not normal," Budz said. "I would love to know. I would love to feel safe."

Budz was not a close friend of Leary but said she would have seen her in the area because "everyone knew everyone."

Budz said the scene was wild when police first arrived.

The police identification unit arrived at the Cheltenham Cove scene on Wednesday morning. (Holly Caruk/CBC)
"There's tons of police cruisers and everybody was being told to get back into their houses and lock their doors," she said. "It was chaos, absolute chaos."

She said some police cruisers, shortly after arriving, blared their sirens and sped off again.

Budz said she had heard someone had been seen wearing a balaclava and lying in a nearby field at some point Tuesday evening. The person then jumped into a car and someone in the neighbourhood recorded the licence plate number.

Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

3rd homicide since Saturday

The death is the third homicide in the city since the weekend.

Milton Brian Richard, 35, was found stabbed to death in the West Alexander neighbourhood on Saturday night. No arrests have been made in that case.

A few hours later, at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the body of 89-year-old Dorothy Dykens was found inside her home in the in St. Boniface neighbourhood.

Melissa Gabriel, 35, has been charged with manslaughter in that case.


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