Friends and family of Roberta Lynn Sabourin are reeling after news of her death spread across the large Sabourin family.
The RCMP have not released the name of the victim but family members have confirmed the deceased is Sabourin, 42, of Hay River.
The police issued a news release April 10 stating that 41-year-old Lori Roberta Hansen, also of Hay River, has been charged with the second degree murder of Sabourin and was in RCMP custody awaiting a court appearance April 13.
Police state that officers responded to reports of a stabbing shortly after 9:30 p.m. on April 8, where they found the victim receiving CPR from other residents in the building.
“I was pretty worked up,” said fellow-high rise resident Merissa Maurice who came upon the scene on the seventh floor of the building after the police had already arrived.
“I saw her in the hallway, getting CPR, but covered in blood … I knew she was gone,” said Maurice.
She said she left her apartment on the eighth floor of the high rise when she saw police drive up to the building. She heard from other residents that officers had been called to the seventh floor and came upon Sabourin there.
“I didn’t see the cops right away,” she said.
“But then I heard them in an apartment, and I heard a woman shouting, ‘I didn’t (expletive) do it!’ and then I heard the cops saying she was under arrest.”
The incident is the latest suspicious death in the high rise, with a history of violence which includes a sexual assault that took place in the building last month. RCMP are still investigating after a woman was found unresponsive on the 12th floor of the building. She was transported to the nearby medical centre and police believe she was sexually assaulted.
Benedict “Benny” Corrigal was convicted last month of manslaughter and second degree murder in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend Carol Buggins and her boyfriend Garfield McPherson in June 2012. Corrigal stabbed the couple to death with a kitchen knife after a night of heavy drinking. He is to be sentenced for the crime May 12.
In 2010, a woman fell to her death from the 17-storey building.
While some residents say they are concerned about the incidents in light of the most recent death, building manager Blaine Maillet said he is not worried for the safety of the people living there.
“I am watchful,” said Maillet, who declined to comment on the latest homicide.
Many Facebook messages of condolence and remembrance have been left on Sabourin’s profile page and a relative, Nicole Sabourin, has started a Go Fund Me campaign to help relatives in Alberta and British Columbia return to Hay River for the funeral. The campaign has far outstripped its original goal of $5,000 and other online initiatives are raising thousands of dollars to help cover funeral costs.
Misty Sabourin, Roberta’s niece, said she is grateful for the support she and her family are receiving, but not surprised. She said her aunt meant a lot to many people.
“I guess I want people to know just how she was,” Misty told The Hub. “How when we hung out, we would laugh and laugh, so hard that our bellies and cheekbones hurt.”
On April 10, she also said that it was difficult to believe what had happened to Roberta.
“It’s like a dream. We’re a big family and I think none of us really believe it right now,” Misty said. “When we all get together, I think it’ll hit us then.”
Misty was only 12 years younger than her aunt, whom she said was one of the most generous and giving people she knew.
“She let me stay with her for a while, even though there was barely any room, she always made a place for me,” she said. “And she was such a good cook! Her cabbage rolls were amazing.”
Misty recounted how about 10 years ago, Roberta convinced her and a few cousins to join her working as a cook for a forestry camp way out in the bush for a summer. Misty said at first she didn’t want to go, but was eventually convinced.
“We would get dropped off in the bush by helicopters and we shared a tent, and we just got to hang out — no technology, no distractions — just spending time with her,” she said. “I have such good memories from that time.”
For sister Kim Beaulieu, Roberta will be remembered most for her self-confidence and loyalty at a trade fair.
“When I go to a fair like that, it takes me about 45 minutes to go through. It took us two and a half hours. It took us 30 minutes just to get in because Roberta would stop and talk to everyone. I was teasing her that it was as if the fair had been put on just for her
said Beaulieu. “She really filled up a room with her presence.”
Beaulieu, who was adopted and didn’t grow up with the Sabourins, said as an adult, Roberta always made a special effort to include her.
“It just showed her compassion. She was so cheeky, and funny, and easy to get to know,” said Beaulieu. “But she could be fire too. If someone hurt her family or someone she loved, she would step up.”
Beaulieu acknowledged that her sister had not chosen an easy path, but said that through it all, Roberta had remained positive and sure of herself.
“No matter the challenges, no matter what life threw at her, she could still walk through it,” she said. “The world is now left with a hole in it because she could fill the room up, even at a trade fair, with just her presence.”