A coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Sherry Heron, Anna Adams and Bryan Heron enters its fifth and final day today, with eighteen witnesses completing their testimony so far. Coroner Marj Paonessa and a four-man, one-woman jury have heard that Senior Correctional Officer Bryan Heron received a restraining order at 3:33 p.m. on May 20, 2003, left work and went to Mission Memorial Hospital, where he walked in to his wife’s hospital room and fatally shot her and her mother. The hospital staff had received a copy of the restraining order, but took no steps to keep Heron away or hide his wife from him. Bryan Heron killed himself in the bush on May 23, 2003 as police closed in.

A week earlier (May 13, 2003), Sherry Heron’s sister, brother and brother-in-law had gone to the Mission RCMP and reported incidents of domestic violence and threats by Bryan Heron against his hospitalized spouse. RCMP Cst. Mike Pfeifer interviewed a frightened and upset Sherry Heron that day, who confirmed the threats and said she feared for her and her family’s safety. Cst. Pfeifer spoke to his own father, a corrections colleague of Byan Heron’s, and was told Heron was a “good person”. Cst. Pfeifer did not investigate the matter further.

The incident is reminiscent of a tragedy in Veron seven years earlier, where an estranged husband killed nine members of his family before taking his own life. That incident also resulted in a coroner’s inquest. At the time, a headline in The Province newspaper read, “RCMP ignored death threats”. The article continued, “The Mounties ignored a woman’s complaint that her estranged husband had threatened to kill her and her family, an inquest into their deaths heard yesterday.”

The Heron inquest continues.