The sister of Ottawa’s latest murder victim feared for Leeanne Lawson’s life on Ottawa’s Lowertown streets.
“The area that she was living in, I’ve been there,” Melissa Sauder told the Sun, adding she’s visited Lowertown twice in the last three years.
“It was scary. I came in there with my fairly nice car,” she said.
“I locked my doors because I was afraid I was going to get murdered.”
Lawson, 23, was homeless and spent time at the Shepherds of Good Hope in Lowertown.
Her body was found in an alley Sept. 2 on King Edward Ave.
On Sunday, Ottawa police were guarding the scene and a forensics crew was at work again.
The major crime unit has been working around the clock but police have released few details in the case.
Cops told the Sun keeping that information limited is critical to the investigation.
A Lowertown mother agrees with the victim’s sister.
She says she moved to the area about four years ago and wants out immediately.
“It’s not safe for the kids. I’m not worried about myself, but anything can happen and I can’t have that,” said Valerie, who has three kids: 16, 14, and 11.
She doesn’t want her last name published but lives near the crime scene and says she’s fed up with the recent acts of violence.
“There’s just too many. Look in the last three months, how many has there been? There’s a stabbing at one point here, a shooting over there, a stabbing over there, now this?,” she said.
But not all residents share her view.
“I feel really safe around here,” said Lily Lemay, who’s lived in the Lowertown area for 10 years.
So does Zeyneb Mustafa.
“I never had a problem,” said Mustafa.
Meanwhile Ghislain Thibault lives steps from the crime scene and said he isn’t surprised to hear someone was killed.
“Not in this area,” he said.
“In my building, I do feel safe.”
Lawson is the city’s seventh homicide victim of 2011 and the third homeless victim.
Henry “Hugo” Belmore, 27, once a client at the Ottawa Mission, was killed July 31 on Rideau St.
Blue Lonechild, 28, died from head injuries after being assaulted May 17 outside of the Shepherds of Good Hope, where he stayed.
Shepherds’ public relations manager, Rob Eady, insists “it’s a coincidence that those last three (murder victims) may have been homeless.”
Eady says Shepherds’ staff are well trained in safety and security issues.
“We very much care about the welfare of our clients,” he said.
Police say the victims are probably not being targeted because they’re homeless.
“They are victims of circumstance,” said major crime Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt.
“Something like this can cause a lot of fear. I still consider Ottawa very safe.”