Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Don Ramsay, My Brother

On November 5, 2011 at 1:35 a.m  my nephew entered his parents bedroom and blugeoned my brother to death with a large wrench-like tool.  He bashed in the head of his mother and left her in critical condition.

My nephew had suffered from schizophrenia for 17 years.  He was 27 at the time of the murder.
I will  describe how the last nine months have impacted me and my family.
My name is LeeAnn and I am Don’s little sister.  I was his birthday present on his 5th birthday.  He also received a truck.  By the way, I think he preferred his truck.  We shared birthday parties every year.

Don was a prankster and a comedian. He loved to pull stunts on people and came up with some pretty elaborate practical jokes.  Unfortunately, I was often at the butt of these but I forgave him for those long ago.
We owned a cottage at the lake and would spend every summer there.  Don and I shared a bedroom.  Every night we would do skits, jokes and impressions with my other brother through the wall.  Don taught me how to catch snakes, frogs and salamanders.  I was afraid at first but I so wanted him to be proud of me.  I became a champion snake charmer. We played endless games of tag and hide and seek.  And yes, we tormented the neighbours with our favorites, "Ring and Run" and "Raid The Fruit Trees".

When he was in grade 12 I was in grade 7.  He would drive me to school and being the typical kid, I wanted him to drop me off somewhere far from the front door of the school.  Instead he would screech up to the front of the school, pull his hoodie tight around his face, honk the horn and announce that I had arrived.  Of course, I was mortified but it was better than walking to school in the 40 below weather.  (We grew up in Saskatchewan). 
Don picked up the guitar at a young age and taught himself to play.  He would play for hours and hours.  He ended up forming a band and was much beloved in the Regina music community.  He hosted jam sessions regularly and encouraged people to get up and perform.  A tribute for him was organized by his fellow musicians  at the end of November.  They raised a lot of money for Wendy. The hall was absolutely packed with people who loved my brother.  So many people approached me and told me he was responsible for their career.  I was very proud.

Don married Wendy and stayed in Regina while the rest of his family moved to Victoria. He often expressed his desire to live on the coast but Wendy was a Regina girl so he sacrificed that dream for a long time. For the majority of our adult lives Don and I lived a country apart. He raised his children and I raised mine. Finally, in the last year of his life he realized his dream and moved his family to Nanaimo.  We were all so excited that he would be close and I could not wait to get reacquainted.
Don was a great father.  He was so laid-back and patient.  His family was so important to him.  What my brother went through trying to keep Jordan grounded, keeping him off bad websites, keeping him away from conspiracy theories, talking him down all the time.  He looked so tired during his last year on earth. Wendy expressed a desire to live in Vancouver because the island was a little too boring. So Don took a job in Vancouver where he worked extremely long hours and wasn’t able to monitor Jordan properly.  I believe he was afraid of his son and wanted something definitive done about the situation. Because of the lack of proper antipsychotic medication he had to sacrifice himself in order for that to happen.  Knowing my brother, he would be happy it was him and not some stranger on the street. 

I will never forget that devastating phone call that I received.  My husband and I had just landed in Mexico.  I doubled over screaming.  I couldn’t breathe.  We flew home the next day.  I immediately drove 45 minutes to my parents home to be with them.  The extreme grief of my 74-year-old mother losing her first-born child was overwhelming to me. I worry for her health.  She has been having repeated panic attacks and chest pains since.  Having a package of your baby’s remains arrive at the front door is soul crushing.  She found out about my brother on the news.  She saw that the crime scene was my brother’s building and that a man in his fifties had been murdered by a man in his 20’s.  She  made calls to  confirm that her son was dead.

Don called me two days before we left for Mexico.  I didn’t return his phone call.  I feel extreme remorse and guilt over this.  Maybe if I had talked to him, something would have been different.  Maybe the butterfly effect would have changed his fate?  Please forgive me brother.

The horrendous details surrounding my brother’s death are etched in my mind forever.  I haven’t been able to work since this happened.  I am being treated for depression.  I imagine what he went through and wonder how much he suffered.  I wonder if he woke up and saw his attacker.  I wonder if he fought back.  I wonder and wonder.  Every birthday I have for the rest of my life will be a day of sorrow for me and for my parents.  Every holiday.   
I am finding great difficulty getting through every day. I have lost 20 pounds.  I couldn’t eat for a long time.  I felt sick.  How could I go on and enjoy a meal when my brother went through what he did?   I find no joy in life.  I am forgetful and confused.  I can’t make a decision.   I walk from room to room wondering why I am there. I hate leaving the house. I feel anxious. I feel cheated and hopeless about life and can’t reconcile that something so horrific could happen in the blink of an eye.  How someone can be here one minute and gone the next.  I am shackled by the fact that life can be so unfair. 

The toll that this has taken on my relationship is indescribable. It is very difficult for another person to understand ones profound grief. Sometimes, others expect that there is a grieving period and then we need to move on. We have come so very close to walking away from each other. My grieving period is ongoing and I have a very difficult time socializing or doing anything.  I have re-evaluated my whole life and what is important to me.  I desperately try to find meaning every day. I realize how fleeting this life is and that I want to make a difference but struggle every day to get out of bed. 

The fact that a family member is responsible for snuffing out my brother’s life is exponentially more difficult.  I wish with all my heart that Jordan had been properly medicated and not on vitamin therapy only. Schizophrenia is not something to be messed with and is a very serious mental disorder, not treatable with vitamins.  The vitamin company, Truehope, promises desperate parents and patients a "cure" for mental illness but the patient needs to be off his or her's prescribed medications for this to occur!  Unfortunately Jordan's mother succumbed to this brainwashing. I'm sure this vitamin concoction helps some people with less severe symptoms but Jordan has extremely violent and paranoid thought patterns.  Jordan was off his antipsychotics at the time of the murder and had been sliding deeper and deeper into his delusions and hallucinations during the last three weeks of my brother's life.  The last thing he was looking at on the computer was an execution.  I wish Wendy had not let him on the computer.  My brother never did when he was in charge.  Unfortunately he had taken a hard labouring job so that Wendy could afford Jordan's vitamin therapy which can range from $100 to $1000 per month.  I'm sure Jordan was on the upper end of that scale.  Despite all of Health Canada's warnings against this product, it is still being sold on-line and made in a US plant. 

I am at the point now that I can’t cry anymore.  I feel numb inside other than the cramping feeling in the pit of my stomach all the time.  My family’s lives have been forever crippled by this awful event.  I would like to get to the point that I can celebrate Don’s life and not keep drowning in all-consuming sorrow. It is difficult to measure the sense of loss and pain.  Don was a gentle spirit who left the earth in the most violent way.

We celebrated what is now our last birthday together last June.  My daughter bought a cake with our pictures on it.  When it was brought out of the box, Don’s face was smashed in.  We joked about it.  I can’t believe we joked about it….it was some crazy morbid omen. I wish I had told him I loved him.

Jordan, I think you loved your dad but you had a lot of anger toward him and blamed him for all your troubles.  I wish you had been properly medicated. I wish you would have had insight into your disease. I know you were not yourself when you did this terrible thing. Your life will never be the same.  Your parents loved you and took care of you. You killed one and almost killed the other.  I hope you accept how sick you are and cooperate with your doctors.  I hope you try to be a good person and make some meaningful human connections.  I hope you are kind to your fellow patients. I hope you can make amends in some form during the remainder of your life. I wish for you to try to make your dad proud with how hard you will try to be a good person in the future. I wish my brother wasn't dead.  I love you Don.


  1. LeeAnn,

    I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I read the tragic news story and felt compelled to review the published studies on EMPowerplus in my blog post, EMPowered to Kill. In agreement with other professionals, I concluded there is no sound scientific evidence that EMPowerplus is effective in treating mental illnesses. In addition, it can be extraordinarily dangerous to go off standard meds in favor of vitamins with no medical supervision (as Truehope advocates). Wider dissemination of this information will not help your family, but perhaps it will help others in the future.

    I wish you the best and will follow subsequent updates to see if an investigation goes forward.

  2. Thank you. We miss him so much. We are still investigating this issue with Truehope and their ridiculous claims.

  3. LeeAnn, I just read your blog. It brought back a lot of memories, especially of the cottage. I remember Donny catching garter snakes and salamanders, and keeping them in homemade cages made from wood and screening. I remember Donny taking us for a ride on the floating dock, and falling into the green swamp. I was so scared until he resurfaced again, covered in green algae! That was a very well-written account of Donny's life and violent death, and the effect it has had on you and your family. Keep on shining a bright on Truehope, and their lies.

  4. According to the reports Jordan had been diagnosed at age 10 for schizophrenia.

    Now that's early for schizophrenia to be diagnosed since it usually appears around 16-19.

    IMO I feel that the drug companies also have been culpable as psychiatric medications actually can manufacture mental illness.

    Jordan lost 18 years of his childhood being forced to medicated his mental illness.

    Of course, he has no awareness of his mental condition. The drugs left him stuck at age 12.

    It'd be interesting to know what kind of antipsychotics he was taking.

    If they weren't helping, then he should have been given the one that involved a monthly shot.

  5. Tell us about Jordan's past 20 years.

  6. Leeanne, I just learned of the terrible loss of your brother Don. I was so shocked and horrified to learn of his death and your families anguish!
    Chris Gervais

  7. Dear LeeAnn,

    I had not known about this until coming across your Twitter account. I wish I could help you with the pain. You can only endure until time begins to heal you, and it will, LeeAnn, it will heal enough to make it possible to notice that the sun is shining, or that a puppy looks very sweet. Those will be tiny beginnings, but we are made to heal through time, and as time passes, the pain will lessen, even though ever so gradually,

    I hope you will continue writing, in some form or another, because it is obvious that this is one of your gifts.