Deadly stabbing of mom, child in Edmonton believed to be ‘completely random’: police

Click to play video: 'Edmonton stabbing: Police say suspect on life support after killing mother, child'
Edmonton stabbing: Police say suspect on life support after killing mother, child
WATCH: Edmonton Police Chief Dale Mcfee said in a Monday update that a suspect was in the hospital on life support after a violent incident in southeast Edmonton on Friday left a mother and child dead – May 8, 2023

A man suspected of randomly stabbing a woman and her child to death outside a southeast Edmonton school has mental health issues and was charged multiple times over the last decade with assaulting minors, said Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee.

McFee gave an update Monday about the attack outside Crawford Plains School in Mill Woods early Friday evening.

Carolann Robillard, 35, and her 11-year-old child Sara, who preferred to go by the name Jayden, died in the attack. Autopsies on May 8 and May 9 confirmed they died of multiple sharp force injuries and the manner of death is homicide.

Robillard was a single mother with two other children. Police said Jayden and an eight-year-old sister had walked home from school but could not get inside, so they called their mom.

They walked back to the school to meet their mother, and they were attacked. The younger child escaped.

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Donna Robillard, the mother of Carolann and grandmother to Sara (Jayden) couldn’t believe when police came to her door with the news.

I sat down and (police) told me that my daughter and my granddaughter got murdered and that was hard,” said Donna Robillard.

“Very scary and even going to that school and seeing where my daughter’s car was parked and hearing the stories of what happened. It’s hard.”

“I miss them very much, and I feel for her other two kids here how much pain they’re going through.”

Amanda Robillard, the sister of Carolann, said the other child that was with them at the time may have witnessed it all.

“She’s seen some horrific stuff. She’s going to need lots of help and counseling,” Amanda said.

Click to play video: 'Deadly stabbing of child, woman in Edmonton believed to be ‘completely random’'
Deadly stabbing of child, woman in Edmonton believed to be ‘completely random’

McFee confirmed the suspect was known to police. He did not say if the suspect has been charged and did not name him on Monday, but noted the man was charged in 2009 with assault with a weapon and robbery.

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McFee also said the suspect was involved in a random assault on a 12-year-old last year. McFee said the suspect has been in and out of jail on various charges.

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The most recent incident with the police happened last month when the man was accused of assaulting someone with a scooter. Following that incident, he was brought before a judge and released with conditions. The charges were later dismissed.

In addition to the violent encounters, McFee said the suspect is believed to be suffering from a history of mental health concerns. However, police confirmed they do not know the status of any mental health assessments requested on his file.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police met with premiers last month about bail reform, mandatory mental health assessments for violent offenders and better co-ordinated justice and mental health supports.

McFee suggested this incident could have been prevented by reforming the bail system and mandatory mental health assessments for violent criminals.

“Regrettably, this incident clearly shows the intersection between health care and the justice system and how gaps in our current services and supports can result in far-reaching tragedy,” McFee said.

“This is becoming far too common. There were multiple intervention points, multiple opportunities to hold the suspect accountable and provide him (with) the professional support required to manage his behaviour.

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“But the system once again failed. It didn’t (need to) get to this point. It shouldn’t have. As I’ve been saying for many years, we need a co-ordinated approach from all service providers in orders of government (so) that this doesn’t happen again.”

Amanda Robillard is also devastated by the fact the suspect had prior charges related to assaulting minors and a criminal history that spans more than a decade.

“Disgusted, angry. I’m so angry, like why (didn’t) they (the justice system) do anything,” she said.

Police allege the suspect had earlier attempted to enter the school but was prevented from doing so.

“We give full credit to the school administration for following protocols,” said McFee.

“I also want to give credit to heroic actions of a teacher that may have prevented further loss (of) life.”

It’s believed the lives in close proximity to the school, police confirmed.

The suspect is said to live within close proximity to the school, police confirmed.

EPS also stated they will be investigating the suspect for other unsolved crimes in Mill Woods. Last month, a newcomer from Ukraine was randomly stabbed while waiting for the bus near Millbourne Mall.

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“(As) a chief and certainly as a police officer, but also a citizen, these are the things that we need to be concerned of.

“This can’t continue to go on. We’re lacking accountability in the system and the reality is, these are the discussions that we need to have going forward.”

Edmonton Public School Board superintendent Kathy Muhlethaler said the EPSB is committed to supporting students at staff at Crawford Plains School and there are trained professionals on-site to provide counselling.

There was also a knowledge keeper at the school Monday who specializes in grief to help start the healing process, she said.

She added they are not able to discuss at this time how staff supported the safety and wellbeing of students who were outside when the incident happened.

On Friday at around 4:52 p.m., police received a report about a man with a weapon outside the school near 12 Avenue and 45 Street in Mill Woods.

When police arrived, they found a 35-year-old woman dead and a critically injured 11-year-old. Sources confirmed both victims had been stabbed.

Carolann Robillard, 35, and her child Sara, who preferred to go by the name Jayden, died after an attack outside Crawford Plains School in southeast Edmonton on Friday, May 5, 2023. Global News

The child was taken to hospital where they later died due to the serious nature of their injuries.

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The homicide unit of the Edmonton Police Services is currently conducting an investigation on these suspicious deaths. Autopsies of the mother and child are scheduled to take place on May 8 and 9.

The suspect was said to have fled the scene on foot. Police said the suspect was found a short time later.

Police stated that after finding the suspect, an “altercation” took place that resulted in both officers firing their weapons, shooting the suspect.

As of Monday afternoon, McFee said the suspect remained in hospital on life support.

All police officers are said to be unharmed.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is currently investigating the use of the officers’ firearms.

Police said they would update with more information as it becomes available.

— With files from Angela Amato, The Canadian Press and Meaghan Archer and Karen Bartko, Global News

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