BOWDEN — A 27-year-old man accused of first-degree murder was scheduled to appear in court yesterday in regard to the sudden death of a 25-year-old Bowden woman.
Ross Arran McInnis was arrested on March 22 in Bowden after police discovered the body of 25-year-old Kirsten (Gardner) O’Donoghue in a Bowden apartment building. Police determined she had been killed that night.
An autopsy determined the death was the result of a homicide.
After a judicial hearing, McInnis was remanded in custody pending his appearance before Didsbury provincial court on March 29.
Family members, friends and co-workers expressed their grief on social media about the loss of O’Donoghue, who had been residing in Bowden since last November.
The young mother’s last Facebook post from March 4 asked friends to make a donation for her birthday to Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta.
“I've chosen this non-profit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you'll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me,” said the mother’s last post.
“Kirsten was an amazing ray of sunshine. The one with the biggest smile in the room, the one who made everyone laugh with her quirky personality,” said one friend. “She will be missed. A light gone from this world way too soon.”
A family member set up a GoFundMe page last week to with a goal of raising up to $60,000 to help cover the cost of raising O’Donoghue's two-year-old twin boys.
As of last weekend the donations totalled almost $52,000. All monies raised will be put in trust on behalf of their children’s father, Justin O'Donoghue.
“She was an amazing mom and pure sunshine,” said another friend, also a business partner. “I see you at every corner. What would I wouldn’t give for one more hug, one more smile.”
For most of last week, since RCMP and emergency service workers were called to the scene during the early evening of March 22, police cruisers, both marked and unmarked, were parked outside the apartment building.
Throughout town, several citizens commented about hearing “something” about the tragedy, but no one could offer details, except it “might have been a young mother with children.”
By Friday, March 26 RCMP and their forensic experts were gone. The apartment building was locked, and its manager does not reside there. When contacted by The Albertan he declined to comment on the tragedy.
By the weekend, residents at the apartment building were finally able to arrive or leave their homes without seeing police come in and out.
A middle-aged resident leaving the building told The Albertan that during the evening of March 22 she heard the sounds of ambulances, police and fire trucks coming from outside the apartment building.
“I didn’t see anybody. That’s all I saw was the vehicles, and the lights flashing. I just figured everybody was just doing something on the other side,” said the resident who told The Albertan she had no idea the presence of police and emergency service vehicles at her building was the result of a homicide.
“I feel so sad for her, so sad for the children. My God. It’s scary. I don’t know. I just feel sad all around.”
The long-time Bowden resident said she only saw the deceased young woman with a man once, but it was only a quick fleeting glance.
“I think I was coming in one day. He was going out so he was opened the door for me,” she said. “I went in, and as I was going down the stairs a woman came out and I only saw the back of her. I think it was them. I am not sure.”
Long-time Bowden resident Sandy Gamble, a town councillor and chairperson of the Bowden Historical Society, said she can’t remember the last town her town has been shocked with a homicide, although she vaguely recalled one troubling incident about 25 years ago involving a group home for youth with mental disabilities and one was killed.
“That was the last one I ever remember. Other than that, I can’t remember anything this terrible happening in our town, ever. It is horrific, and to think it is a young lady who was actually murdered, that’s terrible,” said Gamble, who has lived in Bowden since 1977, and always adored the town’s tranquility and its nice and friendly residents. “I just can’t imagine. This is just such a nice place.”
According to his Facebook account, McInnis was originally from Gloucester, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.
He wasn’t a frequent poster to Facebook, but his last post, uploaded this past February, indicated that for his birthday, he had created a fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors Project which provides mental health and other supports to veterans, first responders and their families.
“I’ve chosen this non-profit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me,” he wrote.
McInnis worked briefly late last winter/early spring for an employer in Olds.
The employer said she was a bit surprised when police came to interview her about him shortly after the murder.
“He was just a quiet guy,” she said, adding he had never given any obvious indication that he might be capable of violence.
However, she added she didn’t “know about the history of things.”