'Dozens' of teens knew Hannah Leflar was in danger before she was killed, friends say

The gruesome mid-afternoon murder of 16-year old Hannah Leflar was shocking in the sickening sense but not in the fact it happened, say her closest friends.

Prosecutors considered charging others but decided they would be more helpful as witnesses

Deanna Polsom, left, and Brenna Ecker say their high school classmates knew Hannah Leflar was in danger but none of them warned her. (CBC)

The gruesome mid-afternoon murder of 16-year old Hannah Leflar was shocking in the sickening sense but not in the fact it happened, say her closest friends.

"It was surprising, but at the same time, it wasn't," said Deanna Polsom, 18, with friend Brenna Ecker, 19, at her side.

Leflar was stabbed to death in January 2015 by her ex-boyfriend Skylar Prockner. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in April 2016.

He could not be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 16 when he committed the crime, but on Wednesday, a judge at Regina Court of Queen's Bench sentenced the now 19-year-old as an adult, to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole for 10 years. 

The girls witnessed some of Prockner's disturbing behaviour in the months before he killed Hannah. But it was only after she died that they learned that a large group of high school kids knew he wanted to harm her, and even agreed to help him.

Prockner told one friend he wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend, he enlisted friends to help him stalk her, and he banded together with at least seven teenagers to plot her murder and the murder of her boyfriend at the time.

"They were in classes with us; they saw us every day; they sat with us at lunch," Ecker told CBC News. "They hung out with [Hannah]. No one said anything."

So many people knew about it but say they thought he was joking.—Deanna Polsom, friend of slain Hannah Leflar

"There are dozens of people," Ecker said.

Polsom said "many people knew about it but say they thought he was joking.

"They were 'so surprised.' They were 'so shocked,' but they thought they weren't to blame. Even though they knew about it and should have said something to anyone," she said. 

Hannah, left, with Brenna and Deanna before a school dance on Dec. 18, 2014. (Janet Leflar)

"These were people that argued seriously that they were her best friends, and these were the people who contributed to her being murdered."

Project Zombify

Hannah dated Prockner, her first serious boyfriend, from October 2013 to May 2014 but ended the relationship after he became possessive and controlling.

"He was very much like, 'You're mine forever.' Like, 'Nobody else gets you,'" Ecker said.

She described how Prockner couldn't cope with the breakup, texted Hannah constantly, drove by her house and squealed his tires, tormented her at high school even after he dropped out, and stood on her front step and used a hammer to smash a gift she had once given him.

Skylar Prockner stalked and murdered Hannah. (Thom Collegiate Yearbook)

Leflar's friends describe the Grade 11 student as smart, sassy and stubborn. She insisted on seeing the best in people and refused to consider that Prockner could harm her.

"She broke up with him because he started to be controlling and possessive and she did the right thing. She dumped his ass," said Hannah's stepmother, Lore Orasan.

Over six months, Prockner's obsession turned to violent fantasies that he shared with a friend in a series of Facebook messages.

In October 2014, he and several friends concocted an elaborate murder plot dubbed Project Zombify to harm, or even kill, Hannah and her new boyfriend. The attack was going to happen in a park on Halloween. It involved baseball bats, knives, duct tape and even chloroform. However, Leflar broke up with that boyfriend, and they called off the hit.

It didn't stop Prockner's obsession.

According to court documents, he told one friend he wanted to cut the brake lines on her vehicle.

Prockner posted on Facebook about dating Hannah in 2013. (Facebook)

He asked another friend to sign up for the same driver-training course and report back to him. This friend and his girlfriend started hanging out with Hannah and her new boyfriend just so they could report to Prockner.

"They helped him stalk her," Hannah's stepfather, Wade Anderson, said. He's "disgusted" and "disappointed" in the teens, many of whom he knows. 

"Nobody stopped and said, 'What you're saying is crazy, and maybe you should just leave her alone,' and nobody warned her," said Hannah's mother, Janet Leflar.

'It disgusts me': Hannah's mother

A female friend who testified at the sentencing hearing said he told her he wanted to kill Hannah and even become a serial killer. She cried in the witness box and said she didn't take him seriously.

In January 2015, after seeing photos of Hannah with a new boyfriend, Prockner crafted a new plan. Prockner recruited a friend to bring a knife to school and asked him to convince Leflar to meet him alone at her house after school. Prockner then stabbed Hannah 10 times.

Polsom and Ecker say the accomplice went to school the next day and hugged them.

He pleaded guilty to second degree murder and will be sentenced in the fall.

Hannah's mother says she is often consumed with rage not only at the two killers but also at the other teens who participated in plans or remained silent about the violent obsession.

'It disgusts me and makes me fear for this generation," Janet Leflar told CBC News during an interview in her home. "They were Hannah's friends, too. These were kids who were in my house, too.

"A couple of them showed up here for the candlelight vigil and hugged me in front of my house. I'm very disgusted."

No conspiracy charges   

Crown prosecutors discussed conspiracy charges against the other kids involved in Project Zombify but weighed the likelihood of conviction in comparison to the teens' potential contribution as witnesses in prosecuting the two murderers.

"Justice for Hannah was better served with these individuals as witnesses," Crown prosecutor Chris White said.

Lani Elliott is a former victim of domestic abuse who speaks to high school kids about warning signs. She finds it difficult to hear about Leflar's death and to think about how it might have been prevented.

"Teenagers like the drama," Elliott said. "They probably thought somewhere in the back of their minds that, 'This is kind of fun. This is kind of cool.'"

Elliott is adamant that kids need to learn more about how to spot abusive behaviour in their own and others' relationships. She tells teenagers that remaining silent bystanders can have deadly consequences.

"Even if it means talking to an adult. And you know what, maybe you won't be the cool kid anymore. But there potentially could be a life at stake, and you have to take action."

Say something

Polsom and Ecker say a core group of Hannah's friends have stuck together since the murder and closed themselves off to new friends.

The young women have an issue trusting new people. They have advice for others who may have a friend threatened by an ex.

"If you even have a bad feeling that a friend is in a bad situation, that their ex isn't going to leave them alone, tell someone immediately," Polsom said.

"If you let it drag on, something bad can and will happen."