There has been a huge outpouring of sympathy and support for the children and family of Mission’s Eleanor Anthonysz who died in a suspected arson fire.
The tragic incident occurred early last Friday. Residents at the Green Acres Mobile Home Park on Shook Road by Hatzic Lake woke up to see one of the mobile homes fully engulfed. Witnesses saw Anthonysz’s two children escaped the blaze, their hands reportedly bound with plastic straps. They were both taken to hospital.
Once fire crews extinguished the blaze, Anthonysz’s body was discovered inside. She was 33 years old.
An investigation by Mission RCMP and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team quickly identified and arrested a suspect.
Walter Joseph Ramsay, 42, was arrested April 18 and charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson.
The children, an 11-year-old girl and eight-year-old boy, have now been released from hospital.
A memorial service will be held April 25 at 1 p.m. in Matsqui, at 5799 Riverside Rd.
As the family tries to deal with the trauma, the community has begun organizing fundraisers to help lessen the burden.
Dewdney Elementary School (37151 Hawkins Pickle Rd.) is accepting gift card donations, and two GoFundMe accounts called Help Victims of Fatal Mission Fire and Help Ele’s Kids’ Future, have been established. As of Wednesday, both accounts have raised more than $13,600.
Mission’s Save-On-Foods will host a fundraiser all week. Shoppers can pay for a chance to spin a wheel for prizes. All proceeds will go to the family.
Stephanie Lock, a bartender at the Dewdney Pub, knew the victim and helped organize a fundraiser.
“The whole community here knows the family and the victim and actually, unfortunately, the accused as well,” said Lock.
The pub will host a burger and beer ($20 per ticket) fundraiser on Saturday from 4 p.m. until closing. The event will also include a silent auction and proceeds will go to the family.
“I think a lot of people from the community will show up. I’ve been getting phone calls already.”
A shuttle service has been arranged to bring people from Hatzic Island to the pub and back.
Lock said everyone is in shock after the incident, and the fundraiser is just something small they can do to help.
“She was a neighbour, she was a friend, we know her kids. I mean it’s a tight-knit community.”
Funds will help the children’s grandmother, Carole Watson, who is taking the children. Members of the community are helping her set up her home for two younger children, explained Lock. The kids also need new clothes after the fire destroyed all of their belongings.
“Of course, there are three other victims involved, too. The accused’s children,” said Lock.