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EDMONTON – A woman found dead after a huge explosion in Edmonton last June had been strangled by her husband, and someone had tampered with a gas line, Edmonton police said Tuesday.
After nearly a year, Edmonton police are releasing a final report Tuesday into the June 20, 2010, explosion that killed Cathie Heard, 47, and three men: Dwayne Poirier, 46, Craig Donald Huber, 29, and Bradley Warren Winter, 26.
Police say Heard, who lived at the home where the blast originated, had been strangled by Poirier, her common-law husband.
Heard, Huber and Winter’s deaths were ruled homicides, but Poirier’s death is not considered criminal.
Huber and Winter lived in the house next door.
Investigations revealed that natural gas built up at the home shared by Poirier and Heard due to someone altering the natural gas line prior to the blast.
The explosion caused an estimated $3.5 million in damage to 40 properties.
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Report to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Public Fatality Inquiry
into the deaths of: Dwayne Richard Poirier (46), Jeanne Kathleen Heard (47), Bradley Warren Winter (26), and Craig Donald Huber (29) (Names in full and Ages of Deceased Persons) of Edmonton
THE HEARD / POIRIER RELATIONSHIP
Heard had been previously married before her relationship with Poirier and that prior relationship had broken up in 2003. The residence of Poirier and Heard had been purchased from Poirier’s parents in part using proceeds of the divorce settlement from Heard’s first marriage. Heard had been sexually assaulted by her own brother while she was growing up. That brother died in May of 2007 at which time Heard manifested the traumas resulting from the sexual attacks of her brother. She sought help from the Edmonton Sexual Assault Centre for counselling in relation to those traumas but the facts of those sexual assaults became at least one of the emotional triggers in a very complex emotional struggle between Poirier and Heard. Several Emergency Protection Orders were obtained by Heard against Poirier and by Poirier against Heard but all were discontinued voluntarily as the couple reunited and eventually it would seem were about to finally settle their differences when the murder was occasioned by a dispute between the two, described by Poirier in an email to his social worker, which amounts to a suicide note describing how he killed Heard and his remorse at having done so.
It is very clear that both Poirier and Heard were under severe emotional distress themselves and in respect of each other.
POIRIER’S MENTAL STATE
Poirier consulted both his family physician and mental health workers in relation to his health difficulties, both physical and emotional. He was on medication for both anxiety and depression and at the suggestion of his family physician was referred to the Northeast Community Health Centre Mental Health Clinic. Although both the medical doctor and the mental health worker were aware of the difficulties between Poirier and Heard and had experience with Poirier having suicide adulation they were not concerned for his safety on the basis that whenever he had such thoughts he sought either help from the medical profession or his mental health worker. It is to be noted that the last time his family physician saw Poirier was in May of 2010 when he attended at the family physician’s office in the company of Heard. The overall mental health diagnosis in relation to Poirier is one of high anxiety and depression but the opinion of the professionals involved was that it was being managed. Poirier seemed to be aware that the relationship with Heard was not a good one for him and it would appear that when Poirier was referred to a psychiatrist that the mutually abusive emotional relationship between Poirier and Heard was confirmed although the psychiatrist did not feel that he was in danger of suicide but discussed a safety and security plan with him in hopes of ensuring the mutual safety of the two persons. The mental health worker received an email from Poirier which was much like a suicide note that detailed his murder of Heard. She had not seen Poirier for a year prior to receiving this email and the email was in fact found by the mental health worker only after the explosion had already taken place.