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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Friends, family have hard time accepting taser death

July 3, 2008

Friends and family of Jeffrey Marreel say there was so much more to him than his drug addiction and criminal record. He had a heart of gold," said his mother Margaret Marreel.

Delhi native Jeffrey Marreel, 36, collapsed and died after being Tasered by Norfolk OPP during an incident in Fisher's Glen June 23. The province's Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate.

Like most little boys, Marreel was a handful, Margaret said. She used to work in the tobacco fields in Aylmer when Marreel was young. It was the summer that song The Streak was popular," she recalled. And sure enough you'd see Jeff, he was only two years old or so, but he'd be running through the tobacco field naked. I'd find a sock here, a sock there, his shorts over there. He was a handful."

Friends still can't believe he's gone. We've been friends for 20 years," said Ron Mudford, who met Marreel in high school. We did everything together -- camping, concerts, living together. He was a great guy and my best friend. It's like losing a brother."

Those close to him describe him as hard working, compassionate and generous. He'd stay with me for awhile, trying to get away from the drugs," Mudford said, adding Marreel was ashamed of his habit and would be clean for months before something would trigger him to use again. I never had to ask him for grocery money or rent because he just gave it to me."

Margaret remembers her son's generosity following a house fire in Delhi, years ago. "He was right there. The guy came out of the house without any shoes on and Jeff went and gave him a pair of his," she said. "That was Jeff. Anything you needed, he was right there with it. You moving? He was helping."

Scarlet Helmer also knew Jeff well, meeting him through mutual friends six years ago. He was amazing with kids," she said. My kids loved him. He always wanted a family of his own, but it just never happened for him. And he adored his two nieces." Playing tag, hide and seek and baseball were all favourite memories for Helmer's sons Justice, Dustin and Jordan. They were also looking forward to a trip to African Lion Safari this weekend with Marreel.

Though his exterior was a big burly guy, Mudford said his personality was the complete opposite. He was a softy," he said. We'd be watching some TV movie and I'd look over and Jeff would have tears in his eyes. We'd tease him for that but he was the most compassionate guy I knew."

His sensitivity made him an easy guy to talk to. He was the kind of guy you felt good sharing your problems with," Helmer said. He would try to make it better or make you laugh."

His unexpected death last week has his family reeling. SIU have assigned 13 officers to the case. They continue to interview witnesses and friends this week.

Civilian witnesses who have come forward as a result of the appeal of local media, particularly the Simcoe Reformer, have contributed to the investigation," said SIU spokesman John Yoannou. He added the final report will not be complete for weeks.

There are just so many questions," Margaret said. And whatever the outcome, we'll never get him back."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This may be a drug death and not a Taser death. If the police drove him to the station for 2 hours after medical staff said he was ok. I'm not sure why so many cases are related to drugs, but it is a common theme.