It has now been 11 long years since Isabel Daniels last got to spend time with her best friend Cara Lynn Hiebert, and as more time passes and no justice comes, Daniels wonders how after all this time, whoever killed her best friend is still walking free.
“Yes I am still very angry and sad that this person or these people are roaming free living their lives, celebrating birthdays, Christmas's with their families and loved ones, and she was robbed of that,” Daniels said.
“She was robbed of her life.”
Daniels, 42, of Winnipeg said she met Hiebert when they were both 13. They became and remained the best of friends until the tragic day in the summer of 2011 when Hiebert’s badly beaten body was discovered by construction workers in the basement of her North End home.
“We had similar home lives, and we bonded through that,” Daniels said. “We both needed a solid person in our lives.
“We made a commitment to always be there for each other, good or bad. I think about this all the time, I think about how we won't grow old together, encouraging each other to be better.”
Cara Lynn Hiebert was 31 years old and a mother of four children when construction workers discovered her body in the basement of her home at 506 Redwood Ave., on July 19, 2011.
Daniels said she first knew something terribly wrong had happened to her friend when she recognized Hiebert’s house on a TV news story.
“I saw her house on the news and I started hyperventilating and crying. I was yelling at my mom telling her, ‘I was just there, I just saw her,’” Daniels said.
Daniels also has to live with the thoughts that her best friend was the victim of what she said was a “brutal” murder.
“I cleaned out her house after, and all I'll say is that it was very heartbreaking to see how her life was taken,” Daniels said.
The Winnipeg Police Service said in a media release following Hiebert’s death that officers and emergency responders were sent to Hiebert’s home on Redwood Avenue on July 19, 2011, after getting a report of what they said were “suspicious circumstances.”
“Upon arrival, officers located a deceased female within the residence with upper body injuries, consistent with being physically assaulted,” police said.
Police say Daniels died of “blunt force trauma.”
Daniels admits that Hiebert had been dealing with some personal issues and struggles in the weeks and months leading up to her death, but to this day can’t understand why anyone would murder her, and do it so viciously.
“There was no rhyme or reason for someone to take her life,” Daniels said. “Despite what was going on in her life and the people around her, she didn't deserve that.”
The death of Hiebert is one of two tragedies that Daniels has been forced to live through, as she also lost someone else who was a big part of her life to violence.
“I lost my cousin Leanne Daniels to violence as well, and it was always the three of us together,” she said
“And now it's only me, so it's been hard.”
Hiebert also left behind her children that are now growing up without their mother.
One of her children, Jordan Belyk, was also involved in another high-profile and disturbing incident that took the life of a young woman, and he is currently incarcerated.
Belyk killed 19-year-old Brittany Bung in the Lac Du Bonnet area in 2017 during what courts have heard was a “methamphetamine-induced psychosis,” and has since been convicted of manslaughter in the case.
According to court documents, Belyk, who did not know Bung when he attacked and killed her on Oct. 3, 2017, was charged with manslaughter and not with second-degree murder in the case, because his meth-fueled psychosis was so extreme at the time that he could not have had the “intent” to be convicted of second-degree murder.
Belyk is currently in prison serving an 11-year sentence.
Daniels said she would like nothing more than for friends and family of her best friend to finally get answers on who killed her and why, and get justice for Hiebert.
To date, there have been no arrests or charges laid in Hiebert’s murder.
“It's been 11 years and she now also has two grandchildren that will never know just how awesome she was. I know she would be so proud to be a mother and a grandmother,” Daniels said.
“Will her children and family ever get closure? I don't know, but every day I pray that they do.”
Daniels said as she grieves for her friend, she also tries to remember the kind of person that Hiebert was and the friendship they shared.
“She was the funniest person who had a big heart. She was a very caring person who deeply loved her children and her family. She had a great sense of style and an amazing smile.”
And after losing a best friend and a cousin to violence Daniels said she has struggled constantly with the memories and the sadness and has turned to her own culture as one way to find some healing.
She has also become an advocate in Winnipeg for other people and families that have lost loved ones to violence and murder, and can often be seen offering assistance to people attending vigils in the city for missing and murdered women and girls.
“I turned to my culture, became a Sundancer, and my advocacy work helps me a lot as well,” Daniels said.
“But her death will always be fresh in my mind, some days are easier than others, but on my bad days it's like I'm taken right back to the moment I found out, and it’s an overwhelming amount of grief.
“We had an unbreakable bond. I miss her, I think about her every day.”
Anyone with any information about the death of Cara Lynn Hiebert is asked to call Winnipeg Police at 204-986-6222, or Winnipeg Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun