Family mourn 'kind and selfless' woman killed at downtown Toronto law firm

The brother of a woman who was murdered at her workplace on Thursday says his family is "struggling" to come to terms with the loss of someone so "kind and selfless."

The suspect allegedly fled but was arrested shortly after, police say

Julia Ferguson, 29, was killed after she was stabbed at the downtown Toronto law firm where she worked. (Supplied)

The brother of a woman who was murdered at her workplace on Thursday says his family is struggling to come to terms with the loss of someone so "kind and selfless."

Julia Ferguson, 29, died in hospital on Sunday after a man entered the Hicks Adams law firm in downtown Toronto on Sept. 2 and stabbed her while she was working, Toronto police say.

The suspect, identified by Toronto police as Osman Osman, 33, of Toronto, fled the scene but later surrendered to police.

During a press conference about the case on Monday, Toronto police detective sergeant Tiffany Castell said that while she could not comment on Osman's links with Hicks Adams, the attack was "not random."

"The business itself was certainly the target." 

Chris Hicks, one of the law firm's founding partners, told CBC News on Thursday that Julia had undergone surgery for chest wounds but was reported to be "stable and recovering." 

However, Toronto police on Monday confirmed that she "succumbed to her injuries" at about 2.45 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.

'There was a lot of hope'

Ferguson's brother, Chris Ferguson, 40, said that while "until the end there was a lot of hope" that his sister would survive her injuries, the family were now left in "shock" and "disbelief" at her sudden death. 

The two children lost their father "when we were young", Chris said, and he and his mother, who live in London, Ont., were now the last two surviving members of their immediate family. Julia also had a boyfriend with whom she had a "great relationship," he said.

Due to health issues, Julia's mother could not be with her daughter when she died, and she was left "torn apart" and "struggling" to come to terms with her death, the brother said.

He found solace in the last memory the family had together, when Julia had returned to the family home in London to "plant flowers and watch movies" a couple of weeks ago.

"She was an amazing aunt to my son — they meant so much to each other," Chris said. 

A woman who was stabbed at a law firm in downtown Toronto last Thursday has died. (Peter Turek/CBC)

His sister left London about a decade ago because she had "the drive" to live in Toronto, he said. 

"Being young, she wanted to move to the bigger city that had more going on for her age."

She worked in the beauty industry before she took the job at Hicks Adams. He said she was "kind and selfless and loving and giving" and "her biggest passion was being around people."

"The aura that she gave just made you feel better and I think that's what her legacy is," he said.

"We should remember that energy that she gave and give that energy to other people and let that energy live through us."

His sister was an organ donor so she was "unwavering in her giving even after death," Chris said.

Attacker's charges upgraded

Chris said he felt "too much anger" towards his sister's attacker to contemplate how the family would seek justice.

"No justice is going to bring her back and it's just going to prolong the grief. My thoughts are just everywhere with that," Chris said. 

The family were now in the process of organizing a funeral. 

Osman has been remanded in custody and his initial charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon have been upgraded to a charge of second degree murder.

While police would not say whether Osman was a former client or staff member of the law firm, they said he had a "previous connection."

"The accused had a relationship with the business premises there but that's as much information as I'm able to provide at this time," Castell said during Monday's press conference.

Osman turned himself in at the nearby 51 Division police station "shortly after" the attack, she said.

"The investigation is ongoing and there is the possibility that these could be upgraded further," Castell said.

Act of violence 'unfathomable'

Jessica Zita, Ferguson's friend and an associate lawyer at the law firm Lockyer Posner Craig, told CBC Toronto that there had never been "an event so universally jarring in our legal community."

"The shockwaves are unprecedented. This, coupled with the fact that Jules was just so widely adored. Her positive aura was infectious — she made everyone around her feel good, safe. This unfathomable act of violence could not have happened to someone more beloved than her."

Chris Hicks at Hick Adams said the attack was "not personal in any way" and Julia was "a very sweet person and kind to everyone."


Ashleigh Stewart is an investigative journalist from New Zealand now living in Toronto, via stints in Dubai, Tokyo and Jakarta. She's particularly interested in stories about mental health, inequality and underrepresented communities. Outside of work, you'll find her on a ski field or a mountain trail. Follow her on Twitter @ash_stewart_ or email her on