Saengduean Honchaiyaphum, one of two people killed in Tuesday’s shootings in Faro, Yukon, was the estranged wife of her accused killer, according to a close friend.
Rachel Rodnunsky says Honchaiyaphum, 42 — known to friends as Sang — was married to Ralph Bernard Shaw for 17 years. She says the two separated in August.
Honchaiyaphum was killed in Faro on Tuesday. Another local man, 73-year-old Patrick McCracken, was also killed by a gunman that day and another man was critically injured.
Shaw, 61, was arrested on Tuesday, about an hour after police first responded to a report of a domestic disturbance. He’s now in custody and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, and two counts of aggravated assault.
Rodnunsky said she knew Honchaiyaphum for about 15 years, since Honchaiyaphum moved to Faro from her native Thailand. The two women would often go on walks together.
Rodnunsky describes her friend as a devoted mother who loved to talk about her daughters, now aged 12 and 15.
“Her children were her world,” Rodnunsky said. “The three of them were very tight. They went everywhere together.”
Rodnunsky said Honchaiyaphum met Shaw in Thailand and moved to Faro not long before her oldest daughter was born.
“When she first moved here, she was always bundled up ’cause she was so cold,” Rodnunsky recalled.
Rodnunsky says her friend had a great sense of humour, and loved to tell stories about life back in Thailand.
“I think I might have been one of the few people that asked her about how things were in Thailand, and in Thai culture and her family and everything,” Rodnunsky said.
She recalls a story Honchaiyaphum once told her about a visit back to Thailand, and how she used English without thinking when she hired a taxi. She then sat quietly while the cab driver spoke about her in Thai to another passenger.
“She never let him know that she understood every word. And then right when she got out of the taxi, she spoke to him in Thai and walked off and thought it was hilarious how his face was like,” Rodnunsky said.
“That was sort of her sense of humour.”
Rodnunsky said Sang was often seen taking her daughters to the local pool in the summer. They would always walk, she said.
“I remember her saying that she didn’t have a driver’s licence because she was scared to drive here — but she used to drive her motorcycle in Bangkok! It’s like, isn’t that like worse than driving in Faro?” Rodnunsky said, laughing.
‘Willing to help anybody’
McCracken also had a sense of humour, according to his step-daughter. Brandy Gulle describes Pat, as she knew him, as quick-witted, no-nonsense and “very laid back.” She says she knew him all her life.
“His motto, he would always say to me, was ‘ho-hum,’ like, kind of like ‘what are you going to do?’ ‘Ho-hum’ was his, you know, that was his way of saying, ‘Oh well.’ You know, he didn’t take it seriously, certain things,” Gulle said.
Gulle lives in Steinbach, Man., and she’s been trying to support her mom, Barb, from afar. She plans to travel to Faro in the coming days, along with other family members.
“We’re devastated. And it’s like a nightmare, basically,” Gulle said.
“I don’t know what people could do to help at this point. Just keep offering prayers and sympathy to my mom but also give privacy as well. You know, it’s a very hard time.”
It’s not clear what the relationship was between McCracken and his accused killer.
McCracken was a town councillor in Faro and was also the town foreman for many years. In a short self-written biography on the town council’s webpage, McCracken says he was born in Winnipeg and moved to Faro in 1975.
“Once I was here for a few short weeks I knew I would be calling Faro home,” he wrote.
Gulle says McCracken retired a couple of years ago, but was soon back at work.
“Retirement wasn’t for him. He had to keep going. He was a busy guy, he liked to keep busy,” she said.
“He was a good man, he was willing to help anybody. He got along with everybody and anybody, for the most part. He loved his movies and chocolate bars. And his grandkids.”
Gulle is not sure whether her mom will stay in Faro. The rest of her family lives elsewhere.
“He was her everything. Now, I think that that life is over for her in the Yukon. Because she’ll never get past what has happened,” Gulle said.
“It’s disrupted our family beyond belief.”