From rage to reconciliation: How a son forgave the man he believes killed his mother
His mom was everything to him. She was his world.
There were things Tim Henderson never got to say to her before she was killed on July 31, 1993.
Even though he is unable to see his mom, or have much of an opportunity to visit her grave, Henderson, 52, of Winnipeg is at peace with his life more than ever before.
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That’s because he forgave the man he believes killed his mother.
Henderson’s mom died of blunt force trauma to the head in 1993. It was the kind of murder and aftermath of murder that the national inquiry into into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada will hear about over the next two years.
Yet Henderson once had this man he believes responsible for his mother’s murder over for a supper and was even at his deathbed.
‘Mom said, “help me”‘
Her name was Marjorie Lena Henderson (Morrisseau), 54, originally from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. A mother of seven, she lived in Winnipeg at the time of her death.
She suffered from domestic violence from her then-partner, Wallace Noel Seymour of Seymourville, Manitoba, according to Henderson.
The couple were together for 23 years.
Living in the north end on William Avenue, Henderson made it a routine to regularly check in on his mother because of the domestic violence.
“I would go there daily, every day, even at night, out of the blue. I’m going for coffee and I’d stop by, honk the horns, she would come to the window, tell me she was OK, we would have signals,” says Henderson.
But on Friday, July 31, 1993, Henderson’s life was changed forever.
“I remember trying to get in. I kicked at the door trying to get them to come down, and the door was barricaded,” says Henderson.
Seymour was unexpectedly at his mother’s place even though there was a restraining order against him.
Henderson managed to get inside his mother’s apartment. But once inside Henderson saw Seymour waving something he thought was a knife or bar around in the air and making threats.
“She had some bruising and I was just trying to keep the situation calm, because he had been drinking whisky,” says Henderson.
“[My] mom said, ‘help me,'” says Henderson. So he tried to take his mom and leave the apartment. “Then he got aggressive.”
Afraid for both of them, Henderson told his mom to try to calm Seymour, while he went out to get help.
No help from police
Using phone booths, Henderson called the Winnipeg Police for help.
But according to Henderson, the man on the line told Henderson it would have to be Marjorie Henderson herself who called in and lodged a complaint. He hung up on Henderson.
Henderson believes his mother’s death was preventable.
Shortly after that, Henderson came back with a few friends to kick the door down.
“It was like I had to break the law to get the police to come here,” Henderson said, hoping if he made a scene the police would show up. It didn’t work.
‘Your mom was going to die anyways’
Later that evening, Henderson’s girlfriend went to his mom’s house.
“She came back, she came out of the car, and she fell, and she collapsed,” says Henderson. “She was crying uncontrollably, she couldn’t get up.”
“‘You gotta go over there, your mom’s dead,’ she said.”
When he got there, Henderson remembers seeing several police cars at his mom’s place.
“Some detectives said later that she died from blunt force trauma,” says Henderson.
During this time, Henderson alleges a detective told him that his mother “was going to die anyways.”
Going crazy for justice
According to news reports from that time, Marjorie Henderson died from injuries to her body and Seymour was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Shortly after, Seymour was released on bail.
Determined that justice be served, Henderson regularly visited the Crown’s office to obtain any information about his mother’s death.
But things only got worse. A newspaper report from that time states that the Crown attorney stayed the charges.
”The latest medical evidence is that there is not enough evidence for a manslaughter case,” said Winnipeg Police Supt. Con Gislason in the article.
Gislason was also quoted as saying “applied trauma” was the cause of death, adding that the victim’s lifestyle may have contributed to her death.
It’s an all too familiar explanation for many of the families CBC spoke to during a recent investigation into unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
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It was too much for Henderson, and before long he moved to northern Ontario, where he struggled with alcoholism.
“It’s almost like you’re insane, like you’re temporarily insane,” says Henderson about his state of mind.
From rage to reconciliation
When he finally moved back to Winnipeg, Henderson kept running into Seymour.
Seymour was spending a lot of time on the streets due to chronic alcoholism. By then, he was in his mid-60s..
“Prior to that, I was praying… grieving and crying, and the only way to move forward was to forgive him,” says Henderson. “I made peace with him.”
So in the early 2000’s, sometime in the spring, Henderson offered to feed Seymour.
He remembers the feeling. “At peace, at peace, like letting something go, it’s the hardest thing to let something go when you know you’re right.”
Henderson continued to make peace with Seymour, up until his final days.
‘I forgave him because I wanted my peace of mind back, my sanity back’ – Tim Henderson
In April 2002, with Seymour lying on his deathbed and upon Seymour’s request, Henderson went to see him one last time at Concordia Hospital.
“First he said ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. [I’m] sorry for doing that, [I’m] sorry for doing that to your mom, I loved her,'” says Henderson.
Henderson told Seymour he forgave him a few years ago and ‘to go be with mom.’
Henderson said it was the most difficult thing he had to do. Within a few hours, Seymour died.
“I forgave him because I wanted my peace of mind back, my sanity back,” says Henderson.
“My mother’s murder had become too big for me to try and fix.” He said he carried that pain for close to a decade.
And, he said even though it would be hard for other families to do this, for him, it was necessary.
Now dealing with health issues of his own, Henderson continues to live in Winnipeg today.
Marjorie Lena Henderson (Morrisseau) is buried in Sagkeeng First Nation. A message on her headstone reads, ‘Beloved mother, grandmother, sister & auntie.’
She would have been 79 years old today.
CBC News asked Winnipeg Police Service for information about the case but was told to check the public records at the Provincial Courts. However, a clerk at the courts conducted a search and could find no information about Seymour’s alleged arrest and release.
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