Toronto Star

June 21, 2000

Mother of three shot dead

GRIEF OF A FRIEND: Kim Nicely, a close acquaintance of shooting victim Gillian Hadley, is comforted by Carol Brown and Durham police Sergeant Jim Grimley at the scene in Pickering yesterday.

Husband defied orders by court to stay away

Neighbours grab baby as pair die in Pickering bungalow

By Stan Josey
Toronto Star Durham Region Bureau Chief

Gillian Hadley ran into the street looking for help, her baby in her arms, her killer close behind.

She knew the man chasing her with a gun in his hand.

So did the police: Hadley's estranged husband, Ralph, had been told by the courts to stay far away from the 35-year-old woman.

But yesterday, just after 9 a.m., Ralph Hadley chased his former wife as she fled her Pickering home, naked and carrying their 1-year-old son in her arms.

She managed to hand her baby to neighbours before her estranged husband dragged her back inside the Hillcrest Rd. bungalow.

The bodies of the two were found by police after tactical units stormed the duplex nearly three hours later. Gillian Hadley had been shot by her husband, before he turned the gun on himself.

``She had several restraining orders against him,'' Kim Nicely, Hadley's close friend, said yesterday outside the home where the mother of three was killed.

``The police told me not to talk about all of this, but that guy was a maniac,'' Nicely said. ``She was trying to get away.''

Durham Region police said they had been to the house in the past to enforce the restraining order against Ralph Hadley, a 34-year-old postal worker who has been living in Toronto with his parents.

``What we have here is a murder-suicide we believe resulted from a domestic situation,'' Durham police Sergeant Jim Grimley said yesterday in front of the home in the Whites Rd. and Highway 401 area.

Residents of the quiet neighbourhood tried to save Hadley, but could only make sure her baby was safe.

``I tried to help but when I saw the gun that was it . . . I took off,'' said an obviously shaken Noel Gordon, 18, told The Star. ``I don't want to talk about it anymore.''

His sister Jackie, 15, said she too tried to get ``the woman away from the man,'' but she fled when she saw the man was armed.

Neighbours reported seeing a man carrying a gun jumping backyard fences to get to the house shortly before 9 a.m., and Grimley said the first officers who arrived on the scene heard at least two gunshots coming from the home.

Police immediately sealed off the area, warned neighbours to stay inside and brought in the heavily armed tactical unit.

Police negotiators tried to contact someone in the home by telephone, but failed.

Around 11 a.m., at least five tear gas canisters were shot into the home, but no one emerged. Just before noon, members of the tactical unit found the man and woman dead in the main-floor apartment of the backsplit home.

Grimley said police have been called to the address for domestic situations in the past, and noted there were three families affected by yesterday's tragedy.

Gillian Hadley is the mother of two other children from her previous marriage; an 8-year-old girl who was at school when the shootings took place, and a 7-year-old boy who lives with Hadley's ex-husband.

As the events unfolded, her ex-husband arrived. He gathered up two dogs that had been at the home, and then picked up their daughter at school, Grimley said.

A third man, who was Gillian Hadley's boyfriend, anxiously awaited news of what had happened in the house.

Nicely said Gillian Hadley was her best friend, and repeated ``I can't believe it, I can't believe it,'' when she found out the woman was dead.

``We did everything together. We did the baby thing, we shopped, we had coffee, we talked about kids, we talked about the future . . . now she's gone,'' she said.

Nicely said that Gillian Hadley was to have gone looking for a new house in the Port Perry area yesterday, and that her friend had done everything in her power to stay clear of Ralph Hadley because he had abused her on many occasions.

Nicely said she had known the dead woman since attending school in Pickering.

``This is beyond belief,'' said another friend, Carol Brown, as she consoled Nicely. ``It doesn't seem real.''

A woman who answered the door at the home that Hadley shared with his parents told The Star that she is not concerned with how strangers view yesterday's events.

``The people who loved Ralph will still love Ralph. The people who loved Gill will still love Gill,'' she said. ``It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter.''

Jennifer Davis and her 7-month old daughter Brianna were in their backyard, just a couple of houses from the scene, when another neighbour told her he had seen a man with a gun.

Davis called her husband Richard at work and he raced home. On the way, he heard a radio report of the events involving a woman and a small child and feared it might be his own family.

``It may sound trite, but you live in a quiet community like this, you just don't expect this sort of thing to happen,'' he said.

With files from Paul Irish, Jennifer Quinn and Heather Greenwood

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