London News & Search
In a testament to the human spirit, a two-year-old Ottawa boy fended for himself for 10 days after his mother was killed in their fifth-floor apartment of a public housing building in Mechanicsville, the Ottawa Citizen has learned.
Seasoned detectives and doctors have been left marvelling at the young boy’s health, and more, his will to survive.
The child was discovered during a routine fire alarm inspection at the apartment building on Burnside Avenue on March 22. The door was unlocked and when someone checked to make sure everyone was out of the unit during the drill, they found the boy alongside his dead mother.
The 35-year-old woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, had been dead for 10 days.
Her death was considered suspicious and assigned to homicide detectives. On Thursday, after getting full autopsy reports, police charged crack dealer Mohamad S. Barkhadle, 31, with first-degree murder. Police allege the woman was killed on March 12.
ALSO: Accused Ottawa killer had previously avoided dangerous-offender tag
A woman who lived next door told the Citizen she heard banging coming from inside her neighbour’s apartment on March 11.
Marcy Chabot said she heard footsteps running down the hallway outside her apartment around 11 p.m. on March 11, then what sounded like a person being slapped. “I heard someone slap someone, skin on skin.”
She heard the door slam shut. “There was about two minutes of banging in the apartment, then nothing.” The banging was on the mother’s living room wall, which adjoined the bedroom wall in Chabot’s apartment. The walls in the apartments in the building on Burnside Avenue are thin and sound travels easily, Chabot said.
Chabot said she had experienced a lot of conflict with the woman, and had called police roughly 10 times to complain about what she considered her neighbour’s abusive behaviour, such as screaming, swearing and pounding on Chabot’s door.
The woman often banged on the wall of her apartment — sometimes for lengthy periods of time — so Chabot said she didn’t take any special notice of the banging that night. “It was unusual only (because) it lasted two minutes.”
“I didn’t know she was in danger or I would have helped her.”
In the subsequent days, her neighbour’s apartment was unusually quiet, said Chabot. She said she doesn’t remember hearing a child crying.
On March 22 around 11 a.m., a maintenance man arrived to check smoke detectors.
The maintenance man knocked on the door, and when no one answered, opened it. Chabot heard him talking to the little boy next-door, “Is your mommy home?”
A few minutes later, the maintenance man emerged from the apartment. “The guy came running out, and he was freaking. He seemed to be in shock.” He began making calls, said Chabot. Paramedics quickly arrived and the boy was led into the hallway, where several neighbours had gathered. They were soon running to get supplies from their apartments.
“One woman ran down the hallway to get a diaper, I got some wipes. (Paramedics) asked me if I had any crackers.” Chabot found a pair of her own socks to give the boy.
The boy, who was always a quiet child, appeared calm, she said. He was dressed in pyjamas. “It was surreal. He wasn’t upset or anything.”
“They changed his diaper right in the hallway.”
From the open door of the apartment, Chabot could see several sippy cups on the coffee table in the living room. The child was an independent little boy who knew how to get food from the fridge and turn on the TV, she said.
“It’s a good thing (the mother) never put him in a playpen or crib. He would have died, because he wouldn’t have had access to food or drink.”
London News & Search