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First funerals for Calgary stabbing victims

By: Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

 | Apr 21, 2014 - 10:25 AM |
People hug at a memorial service for Lawrence Hong, victim of April 15th mass stabbing, in Calgary, on Sunday, April 20, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

People hug at a memorial service for Lawrence Hong, victim of April 15th mass stabbing, in Calgary, on Sunday, April 20, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

CALGARY - Funeral services are set today for three of the five young people who were stabbed to death at a Calgary house party.

Jordan Segura, Zackariah Rathwell, Josh Hunter, Lawrence Hong and Kaiti Perras were all at the party marking the end of classes at the nearby University of Calgary early last Tuesday morning.

They were attacked and stabbed to death by another party goer. Police were still trying to determine a motive for the bizarre attack.

Segura, Hunter and Perras will be remembered in separate services.

Segura, 22, was a religious studies student at the University of Calgary and had worked for the past year at McInnis and Holloway, the funeral home which will be conducting the service.

"He was very popular with staff. He kept in touch with staff and he was just a likeable individual," said owner Ernie Hagel, who knew Segura well.

"We deal with grief. We help people through grief. We've got to do what we believe in and provide the funeral service and have a service that has meaning and value so the family can get on with their grief recovery process," he added.

"It's devastating. We don't understand how things happen and it's such a waste. It just shows how fragile life really is."

Kaiti Perras, 23, had attended Mount Royal University and loved to dance. Her family is encouraging those attending to don "colourful attire." It has set up a dance scholarship in her name. Perras took dance for several years at Counterpoint Dance Academy.

"We watched Kaiti grow into an exceptional human being. Her smile and energy lit up the stage ... Our hearts break for her family. She was a joy to teach and a beautiful person. She will be deeply missed," dance teacher Shannon Hearn said last week.

Josh Hunter, 22, was a commerce student at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business and a member of a band called Zackariah and the Prophets along with Zackariah Rathwell.

"There are no words to describe the absolute devastation and heartbreak we feel over the tragic and senseless loss of our beloved Josh," said the family in his obituary.

"Josh approached life with joy, gratitude and a positive outlook and anyone who met him was touched by his smile. We will forever miss that smile."

A funeral for Rathwell is scheduled for Tuesday. His family issued a statement about his loss Sunday afternoon.

"He was an amazing kid who grew into an amazing man. We didn't have him for very long, but we are so very grateful for the time that we did have him. We are all going to miss him so much," read the statement.

"We know that he touched the lives of so many through his kindness, his laughter and his music."

A small memorial was held for Hong at his old high school on Sunday. His funeral is planned for Wednesday.

Matthew de Grood, 22, has been charged with five counts of first degree murder.

He had completed a psychology degree from the University of Calgary last year and had been accepted into law school for the fall.

The suspect is due to appear in court Tuesday to face the allegations.

Grief counsellors have been available in the community and at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University.

Merle Doherty, is an Edmonton police officer who volunteers as a community chaplin with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He and a colleague have been invited to assist the chaplins who are being "overwhelmed" by demand.

"It's mostly that we listen to people. As chaplins we just listen to people and hear where they're at," said Doherty.

"This is a tough, tough thing to handle and everyone's wondering the whys and I don't know if there are any whys at this time. It's a tough one."

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