Lisa Sharpe sought help for her 18-year-old son. He's now charged in her death

Friends of a woman killed in Renfrew County last week say she was a popular daycare worker and loving mother who struggled at times to deal with her son.

Friends say she was a loving mother who worried about son's mental health

A woman holds a very young child in a yard.
Lisa Sharpe holds one of Emily Petrini-Woolley's children in this photo submitted by her longtime friend. Sharpe was found dead inside a home in Eganville Jan. 25, and her son has been charged with second-degree murder. (Submitted by Emily Petrini-Woolley)

Friends of a woman killed in Eganville last week say she was a popular daycare worker and loving mother who struggled at times to deal with her son, the 18-year-old man charged in her death.

Police found the body of Lisa Sharpe, 48, inside her home in the Township of Bonnechere Valley, Ont., on Jan. 25. Her son Trey Gagnon has been charged with second-degree murder.

Emily Petrini-Woolley was a high school co-op student placed at Ketcha Star Daycare when she met Sharpe, a longtime employee at the centre about 130 kilometres west of Ottawa.

Petrini-Woolley said it was under Sharpe's kind, caring and expert influence that she decided to study early childhood education at Algonquin College.

The two formed a friendship that continued even after Petrini-Woolley, now 29, left Ketcha Star.

Sharpe joined her younger friend for her two separate wedding services, one minor and one more lavish, split up to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic.

"She was a special part of our life," said Petrini-Woolley.

WATCH | Remembering Lisa Sharpe:

'She was a special part of our life': Lisa Sharpe remembered by longtime friend

8 months ago
Duration 0:39
Emily Petrini-Woolley said her friend Lisa Sharpe, who was killed last week in Eganville, was a kind and caring person who "loved everyone."

Tensions between mother and son

Petrini-Woolley said Sharpe would often come to her home and visit her young family, though she noted Sharpe was often ill at ease and preoccupied with the strain of raising her own son.

Lisa Sharpe and Emily Petrini-Woolley worked together in 2010-2011.
In happier times, Sharpe accompanied Petrini-Woolley and her family at Petrini-Woolley's May 2022 wedding. (submitted)

Kaitlyn Luckovitch, another friend of Sharpe's who sometimes worked with her at the daycare, said she also recalled her former co-worker describing problems at home.

"She did talk about it a little bit at work," Luckovitch said.

She described Gagnon as having a short fuse and sometimes being verbally abusive, though she believed he was never physically violent with Sharpe in the past.

Luckovitch said that based on her conversations with Sharpe, there appeared to be an escalating pattern of conflict between the two.

Several people who knew the family told CBC News they believed Gagnon had been diagnosed with a behavioural or developmental disorder. 

Gagnon's lawyer said it's too early to comment on behalf of his client.

The accused has not had his day in court and has not been found guilty of any crime.

'She wanted people to help her son'

Luckovtich said around Christmas, Sharpe and Gagnon's relationship frayed. 

She said she believed the two fought over Gagnon's mental health and his behaviour, which was causing Sharpe considerable stress.

Both of Sharpe's friends recalled how she told them about an incident around the holidays when Gagnon smashed his mother's phone and took her car without permission.

Sharpe took her son to Ottawa to be assessed at a hospital by mental health professionals, her friends said. They said the teen was promptly released afterward. 

OPP vehicles remained stationed outside the home of Lisa Sharpe in Eganville on Monday.
OPP forensics vehicles remained parked at Sharpe's home in Eganville on Monday. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Petrini-Woolley said the decision left Sharpe dumbfounded.

"She couldn't believe it," Petrini-Woolley said. "She wanted people to help her son, not to take him for a day and then send him home."

It was a lot to take on for Sharpe, who worked two jobs: four days a week at the daycare and one day at a chiropractor's office in the village.

"I knew she was stressed. She always seemed stressed," said Petrini-Woolley. 

Petrini-Woolley said she also suffered from anxiety during the pandemic and found resources hard to access in the wider region of Renfrew County.

She said she hopes Sharpe's death will usher in changes in the mental health care system. 

"Lisa did try to get her son help," she said, through tears. "Why, or how, can this happen? … It needs to be addressed. It's not right."


Stu Mills

CBC Ottawa reporter

You can reach Stu Mills by email at

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