“This is only my third month in this position. There has been quite a bit of turnover with supervisors during the last five years,” Rick answered.
“ And why is that?” asked the detective.
“It’s hard to find the right person for this job especially at such a low salary. The government grant provided funding for a very physically attractive facility but there was little funding directed towards staffing needs for its various programs.”
“ So why did you sign on for the job?” asked Barnes.
“ I needed a change. I’d been managing a used car lot for the last five years and I was tired of it.”
“This is certainly quite a change of direction for you!” laughed the detective.
“Yeah, that’s true, but there’s a little more to my story than just that. You see I have a brother who suffers from schizophrenia. I am shocked by the lack of effective treatment that he has received from our present mental health system,” explained Rick.
“So you wanted to see if you can fix the system? asked the detective.”
“On a small scale, yes,” answered Rick. “But that’s enough about me. I want to find out what happened to my resident this evening. I will have to notify his family as soon as possible. ”
“Of course, I’ll just step outside while you make the call.”
Rick phoned Bret’s parents but only got their answering machine. He left a message for them to call him immediately about an urgent matter. After he put the phone back in its cradle, Rick gave Detective Barnes the signal to come back to his office.
“My first question for you is what are you doing here at four in the morning. I thought supervisors normally work the day shift.”
“Normally, yes but this evening we had a scheduling problem. My Saturday evening shift worker, Brad phoned me at home to let me know that the night shift person was ill and that he called other staff but couldn’t find anyone available to work the overnight shift.”
“Wasn’t Brad able to work a double shift?”
“Oh yeah, he was, but our administrated director frowns on paying any staff overtime rates.”
“So you had to come in and work the shift?” asked Barnes.
“Yeah,” replied Rick.
“ I don’t understand. Wouldn’t you have to be paid at the overtime rate?”
“No, I’m considered as management not a unionized worker. Administration will give me some time off in lieu,” explained Rick.
“So you worked your usual day shift today as well as having to cover the
“That’s correct,” replied Rick.
“That must be murder on the system,” stated Detective Barnes.
“It’s not easy. Let’s put it that way,” offered Rick.
“What was the time when you least saw the deceased resident before being called to the stairwell?”
“At approximately 12:15 AM,” answered Rick
“Okay let’s start with the deceased client’s name and some background information,” Detective Barnes stated.
“The client’s name is Bret Harkness. He was twenty-seven years old.”
“Was he originally from Winnipeg?” asked Barnes.
“ No, he was born in the United States. Boston, Massachusetts to be exact. He was attending Boston University when his father was offered an opportunity to be a lecturer at The University of Winnipeg.”
“So Brett moved to Winnipeg with his family?”
“Yes, but he waited until his university semester was over. Bret was also quite involved with Boston University’s athletic program. He played on the university’s hockey team and was also an amateur wrestler. Bret was an accomplished athlete from what his family told me. Bret started to present with the symptoms of a serious mental illness during this time period.”
“I’m confused,” said Barnes, “How does a bright young man with athletic ability end up at The House of Hope?”
“That’s a long story,” answered Rick.
“You said a serious mental illness. What was Bret’s exact diagnosis?”asked Barnes.
“Schizo affective disorder. He presents with both the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”
“Did Bret suffer from depression also?”
“He was certainly presenting with symptoms of depression this week.” Rick noted. About two weeks ago Bret had broken up with his girlfriend.”
“How did the break up affect Bret?”
“He started to regress. Prior to the break up Bret was showing signs of what we like to call recovery. He was relatively upbeat and had developed a much more positive attitude towards his treatment. He started attending his classes regularly and our teacher/residential care worker said that Bret was starting to demonstrate the qualities of leadership. Then the break up with his girlfriend happened. Bret stopped attending his life skills and creative expression classes and started spending the majority of his time isolating in his room.”
“ Did he give any indication of being suicidal? queried the detective.
“Brett didn’t give us any definite signs of suicidal ideation but he had been saying some disturbing things lately.”
“ He said that he was losing his faith in God and was wondering why God allowed him to be born.”
“Was Brett a Christian?”
“Yes,” answered Rick.
By this time some of the residents were starting to wake up. They sensed that something was not right especially when they saw the detective in Rick’s office. It didn’t take some of them too long to figure out that Detective Barnes was a cop. The trench coat and short cropped hair were a dead give away. Most of the residents did not deal well with change of any kind especially where trauma or crisis was involved.
A few residents were already hovering outside Rick’s office waiting to talk to him.
‘Rick, I know you’re tired right now. Can I ask you to stay in the building until at least 10:00 AM? I have many more questions I need to ask you, but I can see that you have your clients to attend to. Can I come back to your office in about an hour’s time? There are some other people I need to talk to right now.”
“No problem,” said Rick wearily.
As soon as Detective Barnes left the RCW office Rick told the residents that