Killings shock Hay River – First-degree murder charges laid

Angele Cano/NNSL photo
From left, Nephew Randy Ross Jr. and close cousin Beatrice Lepine stand next to Garfield McPhearson’s boat, the Red Diamond. It’s believed the 64-year-old fisherman was found dead along with 48-year-old Carol Buggins early in the morning of June 28.

Police have arrested a 53-year-old man following the killings of two longtime Hay River residents on June 28.

Benedict ‘Benny’ Corrigal faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of 64-year-old Garfield McPherson and 48-year-old Carol Buggins.

Corrigal appeared in Yellowknife territorial court on Tuesday morning. The case was adjourned until Aug. 7.

Hay River was shocked and saddened by the news of the two deaths early Thursday morning in the Mackenzie Place high rise.

Four RCMP cruisers sat outside the building for part of the morning on June 28. Police officers circulated on the sixth and seventh floors knocking on doors and talking to residents throughout the afternoon.

McPherson, a longtime fisherman, leaves a notable void in the fishing community, said Shawn Buckley, another fisherman on Great Slave Lake.

“You always consider a fellow fisherman a friend,” said Buckley. “He’s fished on the Great Slave Lake for years. He’s well known in the industry. It really hit me hard seeing this guy trying to make a living fishing and then hearing of his passing.”

Beatrice Lepine, McPherson’s maternal cousin, spoke to The Hub while watching younger generations of McPherson’s family bringing in their morning catch at Fisherman’s Wharf in Hay River’s Old Town.

She said her cousin had been a fisherman since a young age, and he took pride in his work.

“It was his life,” she said. “He was a much-loved fisherman. Everyone knew him. He was such a kind soul and there was always laughter when he was around.”

She said the family is still trying to process the tragic events and says now is a time when the community at large should come together.

“There has been a lot of speculation about the reasons why this happened,” said Lepine. “It’s also painful to think of the suspect’s family because we knew them so well. They were from a fishing family, too.”

In referring to past tragedies in the community, including the shooting death of RCMP Const. Chris Worden in 2007, Mayor Ken Latour said town council will sit down with the RCMP to discuss the community’s needs.

“Real lives have been lost and impacted,” he said. “The people’s lives who have been taken need to be honoured and respected and grieved. As a community, we can’t lose sight of that. That’s where we should be at.”

Although he did say the town has certain issues to focus on, they are no different from other Northern and Canadian communities.

“We know there are things we need to do,” said Latour. “Whether that means being able to help people seek fulfilling employment to having community resources and supports, there are things in place, but we know we have more we can do.”

K’atlodeeche First Nation Chief Roy Fabian said Buggins, who lived in Hay River, was still connected with the
Hay River Reserve.

“There are a lot of people in shock to hear (of the deaths) and Carol, because she was such a quiet person,” said Fabian. “She just kept to herself.  A lot of people are still in disbelief that something like that could happen.”

Buggins was a student in Latour’s adult basic education class at the Hay River Community Learning Centre of Aurora College last year as a mature student. Latour said she was an engaged and active member of the class.

“She was a smart lady with a wonderful sense of humour,” he said. “She taught us things. She made us laugh all the time.”

Members of the RCMP’s G Division’s major crimes unit and forensic identification services, and the NWT Coroner’s Services, were still investigating the matter as of June 29.

“We want to be thorough and be sure everything has been looked at and taken into account,” said Sgt. Wesley Heron, the media relations officer with G Division.