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By Colin MacLean
Published on September 11, 2013
CHARLOTTETOWN – The deaths of a woman and her four-year-old son in St. Felix last June were the result of a murder-suicide.
Trish Hennessey, 37, and her son Nash Campbell, 4, were found dead in the back seat of a burning Jeep Wrangler on a quiet dirt road in St. Felix, near Tignish, at 1 a.m. on June 21.
A passerby spotted the vehicle. By then it was already engulfed in flames.
Autopsies have determined that both Hennessey and Nash died of smoke inhalation. Toxicology results in the 11-week investigation also found both mother and son had ingested prescription drugs prior to their deaths.
RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar said police are not prepared to release the name of the drug found in their systems as it would “muddy the waters” of the case. He did say the same drug was found in both individuals and that it would have had a sedative, but not deadly, effect.
“The prescription drugs themselves wouldn’t have been fatal to either individual, but the prescription drugs certainly had a sedative effect which would cause somebody to, if taken in sufficient quantity, to fall asleep.”
The fire marshal’s office, which conducted its own investigation into the blaze, determined the Jeep did not ignite as a result of any mechanical malfunction. The fire was deliberately set somewhere within the vehicle.
“I’m not necessarily prepared to say it was set in the cabin, but it was in the confines of the vehicle. It wasn’t exterior to the vehicle,” Blackadar said.
There is no evidence of a third party being involved.
The autopsy and toxicology results, together with information gathered from the criminal investigation, have led police to determine Hennessey murdered her son and killed herself.
“I think it’s probably an expected result,” Blackadar said.
“That was really one of the theories we developed early on in the investigation. So now it’s come to fruition and we’ve been able to solidify our theory and are able to come to this determination today.”
As part of the criminal investigation into this case, RCMP interviewed upwards of 30 people.
Blackadar said the interviews helped police form a timeline of events leading up to the tragic result. But when asked to provide details about this timeline, Blackadar refused, citing privacy concerns.
“The federal Privacy Act says that people’s personal information is private for 20 years. So I wouldn’t want to cross the lines and breach the Privacy Act by giving a whole story in terms of where they were, what they did,” he said.
“We know that these people were in their vehicle, that they were alive until shortly before one o’clock on June 21. And then there was a murder and it was committed where we found the vehicle.”
TC Media learned in June that Hennessey had lost custody of Nash in family court just hours before they were both found dead, according to a close friend of Hennessey.
After the ruling came down, her family was in disbelief.
“We’re still in shock about the result … she lost her son,” said Sandra Jones of Bloomfield, one of the last people to see Hennessey alive. “She thought if she got 50/50 (custody) she didn’t know what she was going to do.”
A call made to the provincial coroner’s office Wednesday was not returned. It is not yet known whether an inquest will be called into these deaths.