‘Everybody knew Sarah and Wendy:’ McIntyre murders reopen old wounds

Irma Scarff pauses as she remembers the two friends she lost. “Everybody knew Sarah and Wendy,” Scarff said.

Irma Scarff pauses as she remembers the two friends she lost.

“Everybody knew Sarah and Wendy,” Scarff said.

The bodies of Sarah MacIntosh, 53, and Wendy Carlick, 51, were found last week in the McIntyre subdivision.

Police haven’t offered much detail about the crime, only that they were being treated as homicides.

Both women had their struggles but had “hearts of gold,” Scarff said.

Scarff knew Wendy Carlick for 20 years. When Wendy’s daughter Angel went missing in May 2007, Scarff organized a search party to help her.

Angel’s remains were found in November 2007 but the crime has never been solved. After that Wendy took it upon herself to take care of vulnerable women in the city.

“Wendy was really outspoken regarding young girls’ safety on the street,” Scarff said. “She used to keep an eye on my daughter.”

Anytime Scarff would give her a ride home back to McIntyre, Wendy would keep her eyes peeled for anybody who might need her help.

“We picked up every hitchhiker we came across. My little car was overloaded.”

Both MacIntosh and Carlick cared for others who lived on the streets, she said.

“They were both like mothers to the street kids,” Scarff said. “(MacIntosh) took in a lot of homeless people and tried to help them when she was not healthy herself.”

And by Scarff’s own admission, they did that while dealing with their own very real struggles.

“(Wendy) was always trying to help but she was so lost,” she said. “Angel’s death took its toll on her because there was no answer.”

In 2010 Wendy talked to the News about her life since the loss of her daughter.

“After I lost my daughter, everything changed. I drink more every day. Music really hurts me because I think about Angel every day,” she said at the time.

Originally from Good Hope Lake, B.C., Wendy Carlick moved to Whitehorse in March 2004. After being evicted from the home she rented, her family split up. Her son went into government care and Angel lived with friends. Wendy ended up living on the street with her partner for several years.

But Scarff wants people in the city who might have passed by Carlick and MacIntosh to know who these women truly were.

“Just drunk Indian women, that’s what society saw,” Scarff said. “What I wanted society to know is that these women were loving women, very caring.”

Despite their limited means they wouldn’t hesitate to give the little they had.

“They would give you the shirt off their back at the drop of hat, if you needed it they would give it to you,” Scarff said as her voice broke.

She remembers going with Carlick to the riverbank to search for leads in her daughter’s death.

“She would act like an interrogating officer,” Scarff said. “I always thought it was kind of funny because she would repeat her question over and over.”

May was always hard on Carlick, Scarff said, because it was the month of her daughter’s disappearance.

This year they had made plans to travel through the territory staying at government campgrounds.

Scarff remembers MacIntosh offering her a handkerchief with flowers. She cried as MacIntosh thanked her for the help.

“She told me I was like a flower in her life at such a dark time because of the excess of alcohol at the time,” Scarff said. “She said every time she saw me, I made her heart smile.”

Scarff and many in the community are still grappling with the fact someone killed those two women.

“I can’t understand how a human being could do that to another human being,” she said.

At the press conference MacIntosh’s brother Victor and niece Nicole Smith were also present.

“I’ve never known her to be mean once in her life,” Smith said. “She would want people to … keep loving because that’s what’s going get us through.”

Kwanlin Dün First Nation chief Doris Bill called on KDFN citizens to come together for support.

“Kwanlin Dün’s primary concern at the moment is to support the grieving families and for the security and safety of our community and its residents,” she said.

An emotional Bill urged anybody with information about the murders to come forward.

“These crimes must be solved,” she said.

The killings come approximately three years after the deaths of Allan Waugh, whose murder has never been solved, and of 17-year-old Brandy Vittrekwa. Her 15-year-old killer pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year.

During the press conference Whitehorse RCMP detachment commander Insp. Archie Thompson said Wendy and Angel’s deaths were not connected.

There are also no known connections between Wendy Carlick’s and MacIntosh’s deaths and the death of Greg Dawson, whose body was found in a Riverdale home April 6.

Police said they are treating Dawson’s death as a homicide.

“This tragedy has opened old wounds in our community,” Bill said. “There are now four unsolved murders directly affecting our community.”

Thompson said the investigation has mobilized 35 officers and that over 100 people were interviewed, with 55 statements taken.

He acknowledged that the deaths caused a lot of speculation in the community and on social media.

“Police work is fact-driven,” he said. “That is why the RCMP is committed to releasing accurate information that is supported by facts and evidence, not suspicions or assumptions.”

A memorial march is planned for Carlick, Dawson and MacIntosh on April 26 in McIntyre. It will start at 4:30 p.m. at the ball diamond.

Darlene Jim, who is coordinating MacIntosh’s funeral, said the family would also have a memorial for Carlick during the service.

MacIntosh’s service will take place April 28 at 2 p.m., while Carlick’s will take place in Watson Lake on April 29 at 11 a.m.

Carlick will be buried in northern B.C. where she is from.

Jim said there will be a blanket at MacIntosh’s funeral for people to write messages for Carlick. Jim will take the blanket and place it with Carlick’s body.

Both families are also looking for donations, which can be made through the Salvation Army.

Anybody with information about the deaths is asked to contact Whitehorse RCMP at 867-667-555 or use the anonymous Crime Stoppers tip line at crimestoppersyukon.ca or 1-800-222-8477.

Outreach counsellors can be reached at 867-336-0854.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com