CALGARY – In the early morning hours of April 15, 2014, five young people were stabbed at a house party in a quiet suburban neighbourhood . The tragedy happened as the victims were celebrating the end of university classes at a home in the northwest community of Brentwood. Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaiti Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and Jordan Segura, 22, were all stabbed to death.
“We have never seen five people killed by one individual at one scene,” said Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson at the time. “It was horrific.”
The man accused of first degree murder in the case is now making his way through the justice system and almost a year after the tragedy, a Calgary judge has now ordered Matthew de Grood to stand trial on five counts of first-degree murder.
Here is a timeline of events in Calgary’s worst mass murder:
April 15, 2014
Police were called to a home on Butler Crescent N.W. at around 1:20 a.m. to a horrific scene. Three young men were pronounced dead at the scene. A woman found stabbed inside the home and a fourth man found stabbed on the front lawn were rushed to hospital where they later died.
At a news conference later that day, police confirmed a suspect matching witness descriptions was arrested a few blocks away. He was taken to hospital with minor injuries after he was tracked down by police K-9 units. Police say Matthew de Grood, 22, had been an invited guest at the party.
It’s believed he left his job at Safeway at around 11:30 p.m. and then made his way to the home where two dozen people had gathered to mark the annual University of Calgary celebration, Bermuda Shorts Day. He was accused of walking into the house party, grabbing a large kitchen knife, and then stabbing the victims one by one. People who knew de Grood described him as friendly and unassuming.
“Was there anything that precipitated the event, was there something that anyone had done that could have been taken as an insult?” asked Chief Rick Hanson.
“There is nothing to indicate anything like that happened earlier in the day.”
De Grood was a student at the University of Calgary and according to his Facebook page, had recently been accepted into the U of C’s faculty of law. He was the son of a senior officer with the Calgary Police Service.
April 21, 2014
Funerals are held for Jordan Segura, Kaiti Perras and Josh Hunter. Segura, a religious studies student at the U of C, was remembered as a generous and wonderful friend, who was always ready with a compliment. Later that day, hundreds of people gather for the funeral for Kaiti Perras where she was eulogized as a dancer, sister and artist. The young woman’s uncle told mourners that she was “a tiny girl with such huge courage.”
The final funeral that day is for Josh Hunter, who along with murder victim Zackariah Rathwell, was a member of the band Zackariah and the Prophets. The group had just played at an album release party the weekend before the murders. Family friend Peter Gammell said Hunter viewed making new friends as confirmation that the world was a wonderful place.
WATCH: 3 victims of Calgary stabbing laid to rest
April 22, 2014
Matt de Grood is ordered to undergo a 30-day assessment to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial. He had been held at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre since his arrest and appeared in court via closed-circuit television. His lawyer Allan Fay said his client was doing as well as could be expected.
“He’s obviously apprehensive and concerned,” explained Fay. “But he seems to be holding up.”
De Grood’s court appearance comes as a funeral is held for Zackariah Rathwell.
April 23, 2014
A funeral service is held for 27-year-old Lawrence Hong, who before his death was in his final year in the urban studies program at the U of C. Hong was interested in a future planning public transit, prompting dozens of Calgary Transit employees to pool money to pay for a special charter bus to travel from the university to the service. It was called route 430, in honour of Hong’s April 30th birthday.
April 25, 2014
In honour of the stabbing victims, Calgarians are encouraged to perform ‘5 Little Acts of Love’, including gestures as simple as holding a door open for someone or smiling at a stranger.
April 30, 2014
A memorial is held at the University of Calgary for all five victims. Hunter, Hong and Segura all studied at the U of C, while Perras studied at Mount Royal University (MRU) and Rathwell attended the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). Scholarships and trust funds are set up in honour of each of the victims.
WATCH: U of C holds memorial for Brentwood stabbing victims
May 22, 2014
Matt de Grood is found fit to stand trial at his first court appearance since being ordered to undergo a 30-day assessment. According to his lawyer, Alan Fay,doctors recommend de Grood receive ongoing psychiatric treatment.
“Being fit to stand trial only means that he understands the process and he can instruct council,” said Fay. “You can still be very profoundly mentally ill and be fit to stand trial.”
June 18, 2014
Friends, family and strangers gathered together at a fundraiser called Life is Beautiful in honour of the stabbing victims. A concert and silent auction is held the Marquee Beer Market and Stage to raise funds for the families.
“One of my biggest fears… I read somewhere when you lose a child, the world will forget them,” said Zackariah’s mother, Ronda Lee Rathwell. “Nobody wants to forget any of these kids. They were all so amazing. So events like this are good, it keeps their memory alive.”
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July 22, 2014
“[de Grood is] nervous, obviously,” said his defence lawyer Alan Fay. “He’s been in custody for some time since this occured and he will continue to be in custody for some time. He’s nervous about the prospect and as he’s treated further I think he becomes more lucid and the impact of what he’s facing really comes home to him.”
July 28, 2014
The two-storey home that was the scene of the horrific stabbings is put up for sale, listed for $489,900. The house is described as having tons of potential for the right person or investor.
August 28, 2014
De Grood’s defence team requests an extension of his mental health review, so a doctor has more time to compile his findings. De Grood is now in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre.
September 4, 2014
Thousands of people gather at an emotional tribute concert at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary in honour of the five murder victims.
“I’m still dealing with the fact that I don’t have a son to give a hug to, and tell him how proud I am of him and how much I love him,” said Bruce Rathwell, father of Zackariah Rathwell. “I have a big empty heart right at the moment.”
“I just don’t want anyone to forget them…any of them,” added Zackariah’s mother Ronda-Lee. “They were all such amazing kids… all of them.”
The High Hopes concert raised money for the scholarships recreated in the victims’ honour.
November 17, 2014
The families of the five young people make public their opposition to a request by the media to access and report on sealed information about the case.
Limited details about what happened leading up to, during, and after the killings had been released.
November 26, 2014
A judge reserves a ruling on the media request to have the files in the the case unsealed.
The home that was the scene of the stabbings is sold for $425,000. The new homeowner says he bought the house for redemption in the community and that his faith played a role in the decision. There had been calls in the community for the city to buy the home.
March 2, 2015
Family and friends pack a Calgary courtroom as a preliminary hearing begins to determine if Matt de Grood should stand trial.
March 6, 2015
De Grood is ordered to stand trial.