Edmonton man beaten to death was unrecognizable to cousin

Charges in west Edmonton machete attack upgraded to second-degree murder

As he lay dying in his hospital bed after a brutal machete attack, Dustin Horsethief was unrecognizable to one of his closest family members.

"It was horrific," said his cousin, Colin Horsethief. "All the bones in his face were broken."

Dustin Horsethief, 34, died Saturday, a week after being rushed to hospital following an attack police said involved a machete and firearms.

"Nobody deserves to go through that at all," said Horsethief. "There was a lot of swelling, a lot of cuts. I believe he was beaten with shotguns."

He said he has been unable to sleep with the disturbing images etched in his mind.

Horsethief said his cousin, originally from Enoch Cree Nation, never regained consciousness in hospital before he was taken off life support.

 After a call about a disturbance, police found the young father badly injured on the floor of a suite in a condo building at 173rd Street and 69th Avenue.

Officers arrested two suspects they say were covered in blood when they stepped out of the building's elevator.

Police said several other people were also inside the same suite, face down with their wrists bound.

Colin Horsethief said his cousin loved his family and four sons, aged 15, 12, five and nine months.

"He was funny. He was always there for his family."

Investigators believe the attack was drug related.

Horsethief said his cousin had been going through a difficult time recently, and struggled to deal with his grief over the deaths of his mother and older brother in the last couple of years.

He said his cousin seemed happy the last time they spoke, a couple of weeks ago.

Two men face a total of 65 charges, including attempted murder and firearms offences.

The investigation has now been taken over by the homicide section. Police said Wednesday they will meet with the Crown prosecutor's office to talk about upgrading the charges.

Horsethief said his family is now planning his cousin's funeral for Friday.

"It's heartbreaking knowing what he went through."