Joining hands in a mass prayer where Marlene Darlene Bird, 47, was found critically injured on Sunday, more than 100 people gathered to show support.
“She was harmless -- she didn’t hurt anybody,” niece Jamie Bird said during supporters’ march through downtown Prince Albert on Friday.
UPDATE: Click HERE for a Tuesday, June 10, update on this story.
“She was nice to everybody. She lived on the streets and she was an alcoholic, but she was defenseless. She didn’t have an enemy in the world. She was kind -- she is so kind and loving to everybody.”
Although Jamie’s speech sporadically slipped into past tense on Friday, city police reported her aunt to be in stable condition as of Friday morning.
Things have been “touch and go” at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, where Marlene was transported for treatment, Marlene’s aunt Lorna Thiessen summarized by phone, at Marlene’s bedside.
Police and other emergency personnel found Marlene at about 10:20 a.m. on Sunday outside the Margo Fournier Centre and have since classified the incident as an “aggravated assault.”
“This is -- I don’t even know what to say,” Jamie said. “These people need to be brought to justice. If anybody knows anything -- because somebody has to have seen something.
“She was defenseless, she didn’t have an enemy in the world -- she couldn’t defend herself because she had bad hands and bad legs already.
“She wouldn’t have started the fight. This was an attack on her, I’m sure. She wouldn’t have started anything. These people just viciously attacked her. I know that because I know my aunt.”
Brought to tears by Friday’s show of support, Jamie said that she hopes the mass prayer makes an impact on her family, which has already seen too much loss. Jamie’s mother was found frozen to death in Prince Albert about three years ago.
“I don’t want to lose my auntie now, because she kind of took the place of my mom, you know?” Jamie said. “I don’t even know what to think -- she’s got to make it.”
Although the rumour mill has been churning out graphic descriptions of what happened to Marlene overnight on Sunday, police have yet to confirm any details.
Police are currently asking members of the public to come forward with information and investigators are continuing to conduct interviews, review surveillance video and follow leads.
They are requesting the public to come forward with any video surveillance they might have of the downtown area between the hours of 12 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Since Marlene wasn’t tended to by paramedics until about 10:20 a.m., this timeline indicates that she might have been lying injured for hours, supporter Mari-Lynn Callaghan surmised on Friday.
“In this city, everyone wants to turn their eye and nobody wants to do anything, but it’s time that people speak up,” she encouraged.
“Do it anonymously -- it doesn’t have to be your name,” she said. “Dial 911 and say, ‘Something’s going on down here -- something looks suspicious.’ Even if that had been done at 8 a.m., she would have been found sooner.”
For Loretta Henderson, the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s alleged aggravated assault gave off a feeling of déjà vu.
Henderson’s daughter, Krista Kenny, was murdered in Prince Albert in 2009 at the age of 16.
Henderson has been raising Kenny’s daughter since the age of about seven months.
The scene around the discovery of Kenny’s body was gruesome -- one Henderson descried in court the following year as “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
“It still hurts every day,” Henderson said on Friday while she lined up to participate with her granddaughter in Friday’s march.
A friend of Marlene’s, Henderson described her as “a very nice, quiet woman.”
“We got along pretty good and I hope she makes it through,” she said. “It’s scary, and it hurts when it happens to your family and friends -- it hurts.”
Urging the public to come forward to police with any information they have about what happened to her aunt, Jamie said that she prays that the perpetrator(s) are brought to justice as soon as possible.
“To do this to a defenseless homeless woman? If they don’t get caught, what are they going to do next?”
Click HERE for Thursday's preview story about Friday's march.