Susie Whelehan said she’s shocked but not surprised that her friend of 25 years, Kathleen Hatcher, is dead.
The 69-year-old retired TDSB employee was found Friday morning at King’s Mill Park near Old Mill Road and Bloor Street West after Hatcher called police herself from the park, asking for help.
Hatcher’s son, 37-year-old Colin Hatcher, was charged with second-degree murder and remains in custody.
“I would hope that there was an inquest. We’re talking about someone with a mental illness. He had a break. The system, the hospital, the doctors, knew he had a break and he had named his mother as a target and she was never supposed to see him again,” said Whelehan, referring to an incident about three years ago involved her friend.
She said Kathleen told her that while driving her adult son home from a fishing trip to Niagara Falls, Colin told her that they had to go back. Whelehan recalled Kathleen telling her that Colin said, “I was supposed to meet a guy there and we were going to kill you.”
From there, the two drove home to Toronto where Whelehan said Kathleen called police about Colin. She said Kathleen told her he was taken to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, but weeks later he was back out in the community.
Court documents obtained by Global News showed that in March 2018, Colin entered into a peace bond, agreeing to keep the peace, after making a threat to his father Tom Hatcher and his father’s girlfriend. Two months later, the peace bond was withdrawn.
Whelehan could not say what happened to the threats involving Kathleen, but said she avoided her eldest son for the last couple of years, fearing for her safety.
“What transpired there needs to be looked at and why he was released? How closely was he monitored, how closely can we monitor people with mental illness, and what can we do to protect parents?” Whelehan said.
She remembered her friend telling her that Colin had suffered a psychotic break most likely caused by marijuana use in recent months, but did not know whether he was being treated for a mental health issue nor if he was being monitored.
“She had been his biggest champion in trying to get him help for years. She was thoughtful, she was creative and funny and she loved her children. This is a societal issue. Nobody is at fault here. Everybody is a victim,” Whelehan said, adding her friend had told her that she had started talking to Colin again.
She said it was just two weeks ago when Kathleen told her she believed he had forgotten about his threat to her life despite the fact he never apologized or recanted his words.
“She certainly knew that he was still delusional and paranoid but she told me that something had changed,” Whelehan said, adding Kathleen would not invite Colin into her home and instead would go to parks and meet him in outdoor places where she felt safe.
“When she mentioned that she would be seeing him, I expressed concern. I was afraid.”
Whelehan called the murder “an absolute tragedy,” which she said she believes could have been avoided.
“Something is broken in a system that can’t protect her and could not or did not protect Colin,” she said.
Colin is set to return to court on Friday. The charge hasn’t been proven in court. If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in prison.
“I do not believe that he is criminally responsible, he is not a criminal, he is a victim,” Whelehan said.