Friends and family members of Eleanor Anthonysz sat quietly, knowing that it was going to be a painful day.
Some held hands, trying to contain a mix of emotions – sadness, anger, fear and anticipation.
They were in the B.C. Supreme courtroom in Chilliwack, hoping for justice and perhaps some closure.
Just over a year ago, their lives violently changed forever, when Anthonysz was murdered in her Shook Road mobile home in Mission.
Walter Ramsay, the man who confessed to committing the crime, was sitting 15 feet away in the courtroom.
Guilt had been established. The crowd was on hand to hear what punishment would be dealt out by Justice Neill Brown, who recounted the agreed facts of the case.
Ramsay and Anthonysz had previously lived together, but had broken up two years before the killing. Ramsay was described as a screamer and an alcoholic who was known to take the narcotic pain killer Percocet.
Although they saw each other periodically, even working together for a time, the relationship was over, and Anthonysz was trying to move on.
But in the early hours of April 17, 2015, Ramsay entered Anthonysz’ home, and attacked her with a hammer. A young girl in the house was also struck. Both victims were bound and left. A young boy also in the house stayed quiet and avoided the man’s wrath.
Ramsay set the home ablaze, and departed.
Anthonysz and the girl managed to free themselves, and attempted to get out, but Anthonysz fell and could not continue. The boy and girl had to leave her behind. Suffering smoke inhalation and burns, the two were able to get out and banged on a neighbour’s home for help.
When firefighters and police arrived, the building was fully engulfed.
Anthonysz’s remains were later discovered in what was left of the living room.
It didn’t take long for police to track down Ramsay. A quick search found traces of blood on his motorcycle helmet. Tests showed it was Anthonysz’s.
The judge’s recapping of the facts left the courtroom crowd silent. Ramsay sat in the prisoner’s box, dressed in prison orange, staring blankly forward.
Justice Brown stated that Ramsay was morally culpable for his actions and pointed to the persistence he showed while committing the crime.
And then the decision those in attendance had come to hear – life in prison, no eligibility for parole for 20 years.
Clapping and sobs broke out. Friends and family members breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that at least this part of the trauma was over.
The judge also handed Ramsay two 18-year sentences, to be served concurrently, for the attempted murder of the boy and girl, whose identities are protected by a publication ban.
Outside the courthouse, friends and family hugged each other and cried with a mixture of relief and sadness.
Among the group was Lori Maginnis, who had known Anthonysz for years. Maginnis’s daughter Dana and Anthonysz were best friends since childhood.
Lori watched Anthonysz grow up as they would often hang out at her Sixth Avenue home.
She said she felt unbelievably sad when she heard the sentence. Not because of the length of term, but because nothing the judge could say would ever bring Anthonysz back.
She is glad that Ramsay got what he deserved, but no length of time seems enough.
Now she hopes people can begin to deal with the tragedy.
“I look at Carol (Anthonysz’s mother) and I have never seen such sadness. I hope I never have to see that again.”