‘She wanted to take care of people’: Friends remember nursing grad after mom charged with murder
Rachael Longridge and her family and friends were supposed to be having a party on Christmas Eve at the Longridges’ home in Edmonton.
Instead, they are mourning the death of the 21-year-old recent nursing school graduate.
Edmonton police have charged Christine Longridge, Rachael Longridge’s 50-year-old mother, with second-degree murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
Police said Rachael Longridge had graduated at the top of her nursing class and was set to start a new position at a local hospital.
“This is a disheartening crime,” said Staff Sgt. Bill Clark.
Police were called about reports of an assault around 4:30 p.m. Friday at a home in northwest Edmonton in the area of 122nd Avenue and 132nd Street.
They found Rachael Longridge with severe injuries. She died soon after. Homicide detectives are continuing to investigate.
Marlee Butti, a childhood friend, planned to be at the party. She and Longridge have been inseparable since meeting in play school when they were four years old.
The two girls were born a week and a half apart: Longridge on May 14, 1995, and Butti on May 27.
Longridge lived in Sherbrooke and Butti lived in Dovercourt. They were divided by St. Albert Trail, which they were supposed to walk around.
“We cut through people’s yards our whole, entire lives just to get to each other’s houses quicker,” Butti said.
Longridge was always the caregiver in their group of friends, Butti said, but Longridge first talked about becoming a nurse in Grade 9.
Not long after, Longridge’s father, Erin Longridge, was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was crazy motivation for her to take care of other people after caring for her dad for so long,” Butti said. “Being in and out of hospitals, she just knew that she wanted to take care of people for the rest of her life.”
This was despite Longridge herself struggling with some health problems.
Butti said she remembers Longridge battling a stomach bug in March that put her in hospital.
She was struggling with it for about a month, but didn’t let it get in the way of plans to go see a Justin Bieber concert in Vancouver with Butti.
“She tramped through that whole trip because, well, I guess for me, basically,” Butti said, “She’s Longridge.”
After finishing high school, Longridge applied to the University of Alberta for nursing — that’s where she met Danielle Bourque.
Bourque remembers the first time she sat next to her in class.
“She thought I was super smart, and I was sitting next to her thinking, ‘This chick is so smart. How can I compete with her?'” she said. “[I remember] us laughing about it after that we were thinking the same things about each other.”
They instantly became friends.
‘The 3 pillars’
Bourque and Longridge, along with Dakota Bergem, were always together. “Most people know us as a trio,” Bourque said. “We were like, the three pillars.
“Without her, it isn’t the same.”
Bourque said she remembers how Longridge’s father was sick with cancer — and how she handled it, despite how tough it was.
“She came from a lot of struggle with her dad having cancer,” she said. “What really threw her into wanting to become a nurse was that experience.”
Longridge’s father passed away in December 2015. Bourque said Longridge showed up for her nursing clinical right after his death.
“It just speaks to who she was as a person, that she showed up to clinical the next day when her father died,” she said.
Bourque said Longridge was always taking care of the people around her. When Bourque had her wisdom teeth pulled, Longridge took her to her appointment.
The next day, Longridge took Bourque shopping at West Edmonton Mall. Still in pain from her surgery, Bourque said she had a little “puking incident” there.
“I just remember her laughing as I was throwing up out the window of her car trying to give her directions back to my house,” she said, with a laugh.
“That will always be one of my favourite memories.”
Longridge graduated from her nursing program on Dec. 8. She, Bourque and the third pillar, Bergem, went on a trip to Jasper immediately after their finals. Longridge asked Butti to come along, too.
Longridge had been impatiently waiting to hear back from the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, where she had applied for a job. She received the offer while on their way to the mountains.
Her friends were thrilled — she would be working in the same building as Bergem.
Her first day was supposed to be Jan. 3.
They arrived in Jasper that night, had dinner and sat in the hot tub in their hotel.
“They had a windchill warning of like –35 to –40 that night,” Bourque said. “Our entire hair was frosted and we stayed in there for three hours until the guy had to come and kick us out.
“We were freezing our butts off.”
Bourque said the trip to Jasper, along with all the other memories she has, are the only things keeping her going.
“It’s just tragic,” she said. “Even in her lowest moments, when we were there for her, she was still our rock.”
Though Longridge’s mother has been charged with murder, Butti said that is not indicative of their relationship.
“Everybody just needs to know that her mom loved her,” Butti said. “So did her dad. And she’s finally with her dad, which is the only thing that’s comforting us at this moment.”
Bourque said there will be a candlelight vigil on Wednesday at the University of Alberta’s Edmonton Clinic Health Academy building.