A Dartmouth, N.S., woman whose death is being investigated as a homicide is remembered for her kindness and gratitude to those who helped her.
Police have identified human remains found near a Dartmouth park in March as 49-year-old Sheila Patricia Madore, who was often seen around Halifax and Dartmouth before her life was cut short.
Madore was last spotted in late July 2020, in the Gottingen Street area of Halifax, but wasn’t reported missing until Oct. 8 of that year.
She had a difficult life and struggled with homelessness, food insecurity and addiction, according to those who met her. But despite her trials, her bright personality shone through.
“Sheila really was sincere and really grateful. You knew that you were helping someone who really did appreciate it,” said Amanda Drake, who’s seen Madore on the street a number of times.
Drake first met Madore in December of 2019. The petite woman was sitting in the cold outside a Giant Tiger store in Dartmouth.
“She just had her knees up to her face and she was shivering,” Drake recalled. “She was just saying that all the shelters were closed, nobody would let her in, and she had nowhere to go.”
Drake said a social worker happened to be leaving the store at the same time, and they came over to try to help.
“I had my hat with me and I just gave her my hat and my gloves, and a box of chocolates I bought at Giant Tiger, and left her with the social worker,” said Drake.
“You felt bad leaving her, but there’s nothing you can do.”
Drake saw Madore in the Dartmouth area a few time since, and said she was always friendly. She said it was a “tragedy” that it took more than two months for Madore to be reported missing.
“That broke my heart, that she had nobody in her life to even report her missing, that she just went unnoticed,” said Drake, adding that more resources are needed to help people struggling with housing insecurity, especially in light of the COVID-19-induced housing crisis.
“I think people don’t want to help homeless people because they feel like they did that to themselves, so a lot of people just turn a blind eye to it. But you just have to remember that they started out somewhere. They are somebody’s someone,” she said.
“(Madore) was human, she was cared about … I just would like her to be remembered as that. As sweet and kind and grateful. Because she was.”
‘She truly had a heart of gold’
Lisa Tibbetts, who lives close to a food bank on Gaston Road, said she often spotted Madore heading to the bank.
“I used to see her all the time going to it, then one day, no one ever saw her around, but nothing was reported about her being missing for a long time,” she said.
“Any time she talked to me or anybody else, she was always friendly. Usually, she would just ask for a cigarette, or if you’d see her, she’d smile and say hi to you.”
The food bank, run out of St. Clement Catholic Church, was a frequent stop for Madore.
Father Gerald David, pastor of the Divine Mercy Parish, said he used to see her often when he lived at the church rectory. She used to live in an apartment across the street and would sometimes approach him while he was walking his dogs.
She also went to the church on occasion when she needed help and had to use the phone.
Sometimes she seemed upset and her language could be “a little crass,” said David, but he also got to witness moments of happiness.
“She would always love to see the dogs,” he said. “She would stop and talk and calm right now.”
A couple of years ago, a fire started in the store below her room late at night. She and the other people from the apartment had to be evacuated because of smoke.
She didn’t have any warm clothes with her, so a nearby fireman gave her a hand.
“He, for her that night, was the hand of God,” said David.
“He took his coat off and he placed it around her, and I never saw such a genuine smile on her face … And it was a beautiful smile, and it was a smile that you didn’t always see because it was being tormented by so many other things.”
He said once provincial COVID-19 restrictions allow, he would like to hold a service for her at the church.
Madore also often visited Margaret’s House, run by the Feeding Others of Dartmouth Society. In a Facebook message, co-ordinator Karen Goudie said she had been a guest of Margaret’s House for at least the past 20 years.
“Sheila was a long-time guest of Margaret’s House, and even though her life was not an easy one, she truly had a heart of gold and will never be forgotten,” wrote co-ordinator Karen Goudie in a message.
Goudie said Madore was always in a precarious housing situation.
“When we last saw her in July of 2020, she was indeed homeless and was in need of a sleeping bag and clean clothing which we were grateful to be able to provide to her,” she wrote.
“We are all deeply saddened to find out she has been murdered and we pray that the person responsible for her death is promptly brought to justice.”
As of Friday, police did not have an update on Madore’s case. Anyone with information is asked to contact Halifax Regional Police or Crime Stoppers.