Marlene Bird assault investigation high priority for police

By Thia James
June 18, 2014 - 6:50am Updated: June 18, 2014 - 7:27am

Family members of 47-year-old Marlene Bird have been retracing her steps and gathering information about the attack that has left her in an Edmonton hospital.

Her aunt, Lorna Thiessen has received texts since the June 1 assault from people offering information. She’s been “following up” on leads, and on Friday night, she and a friend hit the streets in Prince Albert.

Thiessen said they walked around and spoke to people they didn’t know.

“Just kind of got the general feel of what they were saying and certain names keep popping up. We pretended we weren’t from PA and that we were on the street and we were just new there and stuff like that,” she said.

The people they spoke to were people too scared to speak to police, she said.

“They know information, but they’re too scared,” she added. “Because they’re too scared to get picked up, they’re too scared to get interviewed and all this other stuff and when you’re on the streets, you kind of know that.”

They’ve been turning over their findings to the police. They’ve been hearing a lot of hearsay and information that may or may not be credible.

But the process is helping them get a sense of what Bird was doing in the lead up to the assault.

Thiessen, a born-again Christian, said she has no fear about asking around for information on Prince Albert’s streets.

“Fear doesn’t enter my mind, because God is my bodyguard.”

Her niece was left with burns leading to a double leg amputation and skin grafts, and facial injuries requiring reconstruction after the assault earlier this month. Police found Bird in the 1200 block of First Avenue West.

She was taken to hospital in Prince Albert, transferred to Saskatoon and then to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, where she remains in stable condition.

She is now breathing on her own without the aid of life support, but the tubes have not been removed.

Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper said he understands the frustration family members may have about waiting for an investigation to take place. He welcomes anything they can do to help the investigation.

For the police service, the investigation into the assault against Bird is their priority, Cooper said. Highly trained major case officers are quarterbacking the investigation, and they have no limit on their resources, he said.

“They’ve got access to all the officers in the service, and of course, if the investigation takes us outside of the city, they have access to resources of other agencies as well.”

The city’s police department has already tapped into its partnerships with all police agencies in the province when it comes to their intelligence units, Cooper said. The

Prince Albert police have also consulted police services nationally where crime labs are concerned, as well.

The police are currently waiting for forensic results they’ve already sent to crime labs. They are also reviewing hours of video surveillance footage it received after it put out a call to the public.

They had asked residents and business owners who have video recorded in the vicinity that Bird was discovered in, filmed between midnight and 10 a.m. that morning, to turn over their footage. Cooper said this was “wildly successful,” and they now have a ton of video.

He said officers are reviewing the video, looking out for Bird’s movements, as well as for people who may have been with her and for people who may have been in the area.

“That’s taking us some time, but we did get a great response from the community when we asked for it,” Cooper said.

The video is also helping the police confirm the witness accounts they have been provided.

And a number of people have spoken to police. A lot of people cared about Bird and a lot of people knew her, Cooper said.

“She did have contact with quite a number of people over the last day or so before the assault, and we’ve been able to contact a lot of those people and we’ve had a lot of detailed information from people who are friends or acquaintances or who had provided support to her,” he said.

The police are not narrowing their investigation yet, and Cooper said they are following up on every lead.

Right now, the police are treating the assault against Bird as an attempted homicide. But they are unable to release information yet about the nature of the attack.

But Cooper said they aren’t expecting a “heightened level of danger” for others.

“Marlene was a very calm, a very quiet, a very reserved, peaceful person,” he said. “And we know that she did not contribute to the offence. Her lifestyle did not contribute to the offence. And certainly, her actions did not contribute to the offence.”

[email protected]

On Twitter: @thiajames

Woman seriously injured in assault now in stable condition

Join the Discussion

paNOW is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules: Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. See full commenting rules.