Ian Collins stood on his porch late Tuesday night and watched as the body of a 2-year-old was taken out of a neighbouring townhouse in Mississauga.
Evadne Williams-Scott’s body was in a small, white bag; it was not on a stretcher but carried in someone’s arms.
Inside, his three children slept.
“I’m sad. It hurts to see a little child whose life has been taken,” said Collins, who lives in the social housing complex on Colonial Dr., near Ridgeway Dr. and The Collegeway.
Peel Regional Police charged the toddler’s 24-year-old mother, Teresa Williams, with second-degree murder. She appeared Wednesday afternoon in a Brampton court, where proceedings were adjourned to allow time for a psychiatric evaluation.
Outside the courthouse, the toddler’s grandmother, Julia Williams, huddled in grief with a group of family members, bursting into tears when asked about the child.
One family member described the young girl as “nice, beautiful.” He had last seen her and her mother on New Year’s Eve.
At around 3:45 p.m. on New Year’s Day, police responded to a disturbance call at the housing complex. Williams was on the balcony of her unit, barefoot and hysterical. She then barricaded herself inside.
“We had to use a conducted energy weapon in order to subdue her due to her heightened state of hysteria,” said Insp. Randy Cowan, referring to a Taser.
When police entered the unit, they found the girl, who would have turned 3 in several months, with “obvious signs of trauma,” said Cowan. An autopsy was conducted Wednesday, but the cause of death has not been released.
There were no immediate explanations for what spurred the alleged attack. Neighbours who spoke to the Star said they did not know the woman well, but described her as quiet and pleasant, someone who always said hello and smiled.
Salima Jaffer, who lives with Collins, said Williams and her daughter seemed happy and the little girl always looked cared for and well-dressed. Shortly before Christmas, Collins recalled the pair emerging from their car with bags laden with toys.
“From what I could see, she was a good mother,” Jaffer said.
A high school friend also described Williams as a good mother, but added that she had gone through a difficult period during their time together at Toronto’s Downsview Secondary School.
The friend, who asked not to be identified, said Williams “was very sweet, but had an attitude” in her high school days and often found herself “in trouble.”
Once she left Downsview, however, the friend said Williams made changes and became religious — “She was trying to live a positive life.”
In a 2007 Facebook note, Williams described herself as a “woman of Rastafari” and said she planned to read the Bible every day, become healthier and focus on “artistic skills, hairstyling, decorating, and love for fashion” to “keep me out of trouble.”
“I wish more (people) would stop lookin (sic) at my past and see me is dis (sic) new light im (sic) entering,” Williams wrote. “I wish to guide people into the right direction.”
Less than two years later, Williams gave birth to Evadne. According to the friend, Williams became “stressed out” when the baby’s father, Wendell Scott, left the picture.
Scott, at the Brampton courthouse for Williams’ appearance Wednesday, told a Star reporter that he had not seen the child in about two years.
Last summer, the friend spent a day with Williams and Evadne and said Williams seemed to be doing well, dating a “Rasta” man and planning to record music. The toddler was quiet and well-behaved, the friend said.
Throughout the day Wednesday, Williams’ apartment remained cordoned off as officers continued their probe. The complex’s management declined to comment, saying the matter is under police investigation.
A bundle of red plastic roses with a card addressed to “Little Angel” was tucked into the snow by the home’s front stairs. Later on Wednesday, a woman brought a teddy bear; another woman, a rose.
The death, Peel’s first homicide of 2013, has left the neighbourhood reeling.
“I have to explain to my children what happened, but how do you explain that to a 4-year-old or a 7-year-old?” said Jaffer. “It's too close to home.”