A small memorial sits outside a house in west Edmonton where a young nursing student was killed, allegedly by her mother who is now facing second-degree murder charges.
Candles, flowers, a stuffed animal and a card sit on the steps of the house at 122 Avenue and 132 Street in memory of Rachael Longridge.
The 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Alberta had graduated earlier this month and was slated to start work at the Mazankowski in January.
One of the cards reads: “It’s faith that lifts us up, love that brings us comfort and strength that allows us to move on.”
Police said they were initially called to the house for an assault around 4:30 on Dec. 23; Rachael was found with severe injuries and died at the scene.
Her mother, Christine Longridge, was taken into custody and is now facing charges of second-degree murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
Neighbours and friends said Rachael’s father passed away last year and that her mother had been struggling with mental health issues.
A GoFundMe page set up for Rachael’s brother states that Christine Longridge had been trying to manage bipolar disorder.
“On Dec. 23, 2016 a tragedy struck a family that has experienced so many life challenges, from the long suffering and death of Rachael and Michael’s dad due to cancer in December of 2015, to the ongoing mental health condition that their mom was diagnosed with and tried to manage for the last 18 years,” reads the excerpt on GoFundMe.
“Rachael just graduated as a nurse with marks at the top of her class. She spent her last hours on this earth caring for her mother who has suffered from a diagnosed mental health condition namely bipolar. The last moments of her life were filled with compassion and care. Her mother’s illness was something that she understood and accepted.”
“Her relationship with her mother was very complex. She loved her mother. Her mother loved her,” Rachael’s friend Danielle Bourque said.
“I met her on multiple occasions and stayed over for dinner. Her mother really struggled with the passing of her father, with mental illness.”
Friend Dakota Bergem said Rachael had a close relationship with her mother.
“She was pretty close to her mom. It was after her dad passed away. Her brother and her mom were pretty close,” she said.
Danielle Bourque said supporting her mother took a toll on Rachael.
“The tragedy in this, I find, is the lack of support from the health system because Rachael had been struggling for a really long time with supporting her mother,” she said.
A vigil is being planned for Wednesday at the University of Alberta. It will take place in front of the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy at 6:30 p.m.
Police would not comment on whether mental health issues are a factor in their investigation.
No cause of death has been released. An autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday.
Longridge’s first court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2017 in Edmonton.