Boy, 18 stabs Nigerian woman to death at Canada mental home

By AdvocateNews on 26/10/2019

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Deborah Onwu
Deborah Onwu

A terrible blow has been dealt the Nigerian community in Canada, with the brutal death of Deborah Onwu, 47, a Nigerian youth social worker in Calgary, caused by an attack by an 18-year-old inmate in a mental home.

Reports in the Calgary Sun, said the tragic incident took place on early Friday morning while she was on the job caring for a man, quoting the police, adding that identity of the victim was revealed at the 1,800 block of 27th Avenue S.W. around 2:45 a.m.

The report further quoted the police as saying that the 18-year-old at the assisted living facility is in custody and was arrested around 5 a.m. on the same day, adding that Onwu was a youth social worker with Calgary’s Wood’s Homes, a children’s mental health centre that provides treatment to children, youth and families.

“Everyone at Wood’s Homes is deeply impacted by this recent tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved including the victim’s family and our many staff,” said Wood’s Homes spokeswoman Sylvia MacIver.

“Debbie was a well-liked and well-respected colleague. She was hard-working and devoted to a career of helping. There are no words to describe the sadness our work family is feeling today.”

When police arrived on the scene, efforts were immediately provided to Onwu, but she later succumbed to her injuries. While an initial search of the residence didn’t turn up the suspect, one person was located and arrested downtown around 5 a.m. 

Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta says the 18-year-old had been living at the facility for several weeks.

“She was providing assisted living care to the suspect,” Schiavetta said Friday afternoon. “This was her place of employment. The investigation is still ongoing. If appropriate, we will be in consultation with the Crown prosecutor’s office.”

Wood’s Homes say they’re working with the Calgary police and occupational health and safety during this investigation as well as providing counselling support for all those affected in their organization, MacIver said.

Because the death happened at a workplace, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety is also investigating.

In 2017, Onwu was recognized by the Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities for her five-year anniversary as a relief residential support worker.

“She can always be counted on to help out in a pinch. Debbie has great relationships with everyone she interacts with and is known for being a pleasure to work with,” it read. “When it comes to embodying CPSD’s values and what it means to be an outstanding staff member, Debbie is undoubtedly a role model.”

The suspect remains in custody but cannot be named until formal charges are laid.

Information from neighbours initially suggested the home was associated with the Seven Steps recovery program, however, this is not believed to be the case.

If deemed a homicide, it would be Calgary’s 16th of 2019.

Posted 26/10/2019 09:18:17 AM

 

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