Chantelle Marie Halcro came to Brandon to escape a troubled life, but that life ended tragically and a man now stands charged with manslaughter in connection with her death.
Halcro’s brother Rik Halcro said his sister was kind and tried to have a positive outlook on life, even though life wasn’t always kind to her.
"She didn’t have the best hand dealt to her since the day she was born, but even though that happened she tried to make the best out of life," Rik said.
On Thursday, Brandon police announced the arrest of a man in connection with the death of 25-year-old Halcro whose body was found in her Rosser Avenue apartment in the evening of July 31, 2012.
The death was believed to be drug-related, and that was confirmed by the results of a post-mortem received by police on May 8.
Police say a man and Halcro were taking drugs together when the man injected Halcro with the narcotic, hydromorphone. That, they allege, led to Halcro’s death.
A source says there’s no evidence at this time to indicate that the injection itself was without Halcro’s consent.
The matter was referred to the Brandon Crown attorney’s office for an opinion on whether charges should be laid.
The suspect’s arrest on Wednesday came about 16 months after Halcro’s death.
She was born and raised in Winnipeg, and the news came as a shock to relatives there who learned of the arrest and charge through the media.
Halcro’s funeral was held in Winnipeg on Aug. 10, 2012, and family members had attributed her death to misadventure. An accidental drug overdose, perhaps, but not a possible homicide.
Rik said his sister’s death, and the news that someone has been charged in her death, has hit him hard. The family now faces the uncertainty that surrounds the outcome of the court case.
Rik said his sister’s life growing up was both happy, yet troubled. He and his sister were close and Halcro would "bend over backwards" to help him.
Friends have posted tributes online that describe Halcro as a warm, caring person with a good sense of humour who was liked and loved.
But relatives said Halcro’s life was also a tough one, in part, because she was intellectually challenged and struggled with anxiety and anger.
They said Halcro hung around with a "rougher" crowd she felt comfortable with, and some of her friends were drug users.
Vulnerable and wishing to be accepted, she was easily taken advantage of, Rik said.
Reluctant to admit she needed help, she lived alone after moving out of the family home at the age of 18, struggled to maintain employment and spent time on social assistance.
She decided to get out of Winnipeg after a run-in with a man at her Manitoba Housing apartment complex, and she moved to Brandon about a year prior to her death.
"Life was better for her out there," Rik said. "I thought Brandon was a really good suit for her, other than the fact that I rarely ever got to see her."
Halcro had made friends here, seemed to have a more positive outlook, had quit smoking and looked healthier, was looking for a job and spoke of going back to school.
The events that led to her death reportedly unfolded in her apartment in the Youth for Christ Building on Rosser Avenue where she lived alone.
Rik said he heard some of the details surrounding his sister’s death while cleaning out his sister’s apartment a couple of weeks after her death.
Rik said that a man who lived at the building told him that he was the one who’d found Halcro’s body.
The building resident didn’t go into specifics, but said that he and another man had been partying with Halcro on the previous evening.
When Halcro went to bed, the men left. When the resident didn’t hear from Halcro the next day he went to check on her at her apartment and found her dead.
Rik said his sister’s body was found in her bed.
The man who spoke to Rik doesn’t appear to be the man who was later charged.
Rik said he’s surprised by the report that his sister died of an overdose after allegedly being injected with hydromorphone. It’s not a drug that he’s known her to take, legally or illegally.
His sister had liked to smoke marijuana, took other recreational drugs and had tried cocaine. Generally, though, Rik hadn’t known her to be into harder drugs.
"I don’t even know if she knows how to take a needle," Rik said.
Hydromorphone is a painkiller, a derivative of morphine, and is widely known by the brand name, Dilaudid.
The drug comes in a variety of forms, including pills and capsules. Drug users have been known to crush pills, and "cook" the drug into injectable form. The effect of injecting the drug is said to be similar to heroin.
Rik said the accused isn’t known to him and he doesn’t know what connection he had with Halcro.
Donald Bustard, 52, is charged with manslaughter and possession of a controlled substance, hydromorphone, for the purpose of trafficking.
He’s in custody and his next court date is on Thursday.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 2, 2013