Deaths of couple, child in Saskatchewan stun friends

People in St. Walburg, Sask., are struggling to deal with the loss of a young couple and their child who were found dead in a ditch on Monday, in an apparent murder-suicide case.

'Everybody's just hurting,' St. Walburg priest says

Hayley, Darren and Cayden Wourms were originally from Saskatchewan and were living in Airdrie, Alberta. (Facebook)

People in St. Walburg, Sask., are struggling to deal with the loss of a young couple and their child who were found dead in a ditch on Monday, in an apparent murder-suicide case.

The bodies of Darren Wourms, 26, his wife Hayley, 23, and their two-year-old son Cayden, were spotted by a passerby on a grid road north of town.

A local Catholic priest, Richard Doll, who married the couple three years ago and has known the extended family for many years, said people are trying to come to terms with what has happened.

"Everybody's just hurting," Doll said. "They ask if anything worse could ever have happened and I say no." 

He remembered Darren Wourms from the man's time as an altar boy and someone who mowed lawns in town. Wourms was quiet and reserved, the kind of person people would go to "in a chaotic situation," Doll said.

Darren Wourms and his family had recently moved to Airdrie, Alta. and were visiting his hometown of 800 for a bridal shower.

One of his eight siblings is scheduled to get married next month. Wourms was supposed to be the best man and his wife the matron of honour.

Hayley Wourms a cheerleader, student leader

In the hometown of Hayley Wourms, Assiniboia, Sask., about 600 kilometres to the southeast, there was disbelief, shock and grief.

Friends and relatives described her as selfless, always eager to help the less fortunate, a loving wife and an incredible mom.

Stephanie Mattson went to school with then-Hayley Wilcock at Assiniboia Composite High School when her friend was school council president and captain of the cheerleading team.

Mattson said in recent years when she got together with the young couple and their baby, Darren Wourms seemed happy and there was no indication he was experiencing problems.

"I'm still in shock, you just don't think something like that could happen to someone so perfect," Mattson said.

"She had an impact on everyone," she added of her friend. "She's volunteered for so many things. She went to church. She curled. She did everything."

On Monday, police were alerted by a passing driver to a ditch north of the town, which is about 87 kilometres northeast of Lloydminster, in the west-central area of the province.

They found the bodies of the three with a .22-calibre rifle nearby.

Police and Darren Wourms's family have confirmed that Darren was experiencing mental health problems.

RCMP in Alberta said they had received a 911 call on April 24 from someone concerned about the family's well-being.

Officers responded and the father was taken to hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Darren Wourms's family released a statement in which they acknowledged he had been battling depression and was receiving treatment for that.

The statement also spoke lovingly of the the family, calling them "a beautiful and faith-filled family."

They have asked the media to respect their privacy as they grieve.

RCMP said Wednesday that they would be sharing information from autopsies that were done in Saskatoon as well as an update on their investigation with family members over the next few days.

With files from CBC's Alix Stoicheff and Adam Hunter