A mother’s worst nightmare as Kathleen Coombs faces the reality of the murder of her son, Daniel Coursol
On April 23, the body of Daniel Jason Coursol was discovered outside the unincorporated community of Maskwacis, Alberta. Five people have been charged with offences relating to the death of Coursol. But one life sentence, you could say, has already been handed out.
“I’m living a nightmare,” said Kathleen Coombs, Coursol’s mother.
The grief Coombs feels is palpable when you speak to her. With a shaky voice and a certain sadness in every word, she’s not afraid to talk about the hole her son’s death had left in the lives of her daughter, Coursol’s young family and herself.
A change of scenery
Coombs moved from the small fishing community of Portugal Cove South, Newfoundland to Ontario in 1981. She was looking for more out of life than what her small town upbringing was offering her. She also had friends that lived in Ontario.
“You know when you’re young and stupid, and just want to go away?,” reminisced Coombs.
Not long after, she had two kids in Ontario – Daniel and Melissa.
Fast forward to 2015, and Daniel is leaving the nest. His girlfriend and himself moved to Wetaskiwin, Alberta, where Coursol set up an autobody shop. Coursol and his girlfriend had four young kids, and life was good.
Kind & giving soul
Then everything was turned on its head. Daniel was reported missing in early 2019, and by February 20 the RCMP Major Crimes Unit had taken over the investigation. Now, with five people being charged relating to Coursol’s death, two separate trials are being held in Alberta starting in early 2020.
Coombs wants nothing more than to be there for the trials, but doesn’t have the means to travel there.
“I live pay cheque to pay cheque, which takes up most of my rent. I can’t sleep at night, and I have to force myself to go to work every day.”
Coombs isn’t eligible for financial assistance from victims services, as the crime happened in Alberta and she lives in Ontario.
Daniel has been described by the people who knew him as a kind and giving soul. He would often let people take out tabs for the work he did on people’s cars, and tried his best to give back to the community.
“He was a very generous and kind guy,” said his sister, Melissa Coombs. “He would always be the type to help other people clean their driveways or fix their car if they needed it.”
Melissa Coombs has always been closer with her brother, even though she didn’t get the chance to see him in person for years. “He would always call me. Always,” she said.
Coursol, although he wasn’t born in Newfoundland, loved his mother’s home province. “He loved it,” Kathleen Coombs said tearfully. “He loved fishing and looking at the lobsters, the whales… I wish to God I had never left there.”
Coombs is beside herself with grief still, and has had a hard time pulling herself out of it. She tries to be strong every day, but there’s not much she can do. The grief is still very real for her, and according to her she lives most of her days in a fog.
“I sit and talk to his ashes every night,” said Coombs. “A lot of times I think I’d be better off if I wasn’t around, so I wouldn’t have go through all that pain.”
Coombs hopes that being able to go to the trial relating to Coursol’s murder will help bring her some closure. However, due to her financial situation, she’s not sure she can afford to go. She’s started a GoFundMe page to help with travel expenses in hopes that people sympathetic to her struggle will help her try to find the peace she’s been seeking.