When members of the O’Flaherty family have come together over the past year, someone has been missing.
That someone is David (Dick) O’Flaherty.
Mr. O’Flaherty was found dead in his apartment on Main Street a year ago Tuesday. The circumstances around his death are still under investigation by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
But that’s little comfort to his family and friends.
Tuesday evening, about 25 people gathered near Mr. O’Flaherty’s former apartment and set off on a march through part of the city toward the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s Corner Brook headquarters on University Drive.
As they neared the building and spilled into the parking lot, chants of “What do we want? Justice. Who do we want it for? Dicky,” could be heard.
They also yelled questions about the police investigation saying “things are not being done fast enough.”
The rally was meant to send police a message that Mr. O’Flaherty’s family and friends won’t be going away until they get some answers concerning his death.
Among the group was Eddie Welshman.
“There’s a big empty spot there,” said Welshman as he talked about the past year without the man he’s known for most of his life. "We miss him very much.”
Welshman’s partner, Tammy Earle, is Mr. O’Flaherty’s niece. Mr. O’Flaherty lived with the couple for some time in Alberta.
“He left Newfoundland sure and he hitchhiked right to Alberta to come out with us,” he said. “He walked, hitchhiked and got out there and went to work.”
When the couple returned to Newfoundland in 2001, Mr. O’Flaherty came with them.
“He always held small jobs,” said Welshman. “He was always there to help people.”
He said his death has been a big loss for all who knew him and it’s hard not hearing anything about the investigation.
“It’s a long time going on.”
The rally, he said, was about bringing awareness to the community that these crimes can happen in people’s backyards
In the days before Mr. O’Flaherty died he had been in a fight with someone, and his family and friends have made comments about who they think is responsible for his death.
“A lot of people know what happened,” said Welshman. “There’s people scared to come forward — we know it and hopefully this here will bring the people out ... We want people to come forward and tell the police the truth.”
The thought of not getting any answers leaves Welshman with an empty feeling.
“Everybody is left to wonder.”
The group milled about the parking lot for about 20 minutes before moving on. They made no attempt to enter the building, nor did they ask to speak with anyone inside.
Insp. Terry Corbin was inside at the time and spoke with the media afterwards.
Corbin said the investigation is still an active one that is being conducted in collaboration with investigators in St. John’s.
“(It’s) normal for policing to assign different expertise to that file,” he said.
He said a year might seem like a long time to the family, but sometimes it’s not so unusual in these kinds of investigations.
“They can be quite complicated.”
Corbin said the police are relying on expertise from labs and reports and these things can take a long time.
As for how Mr. O’Flaherty died, Corbin said he couldn’t answer that because he is not involved in the investigation.
“I know there were some subsequent tests done and we were waiting for those tests to come back from the lab, which we have now,” said Corbin. “They’re being analyzed.”
As for the family’s suspicions on who is responsible for Mr. O’Flaherty’s death, Corbin could not say if the RNC has identified a person or persons of interest.
“I can’t really speak for that as well in terms of that investigation,” he said. “But no doubt with this type of investigation, especially in a small community, there’s all kinds of scenarios. And we have a responsibility to investigate everything. And I’ll assure you that we will not leave any stone unturned in terms of our investigation.
“For us, what’s important is to get the investigation correct because it’s important to everybody else.”
Corbin said the RNC is as committed to the investigation today as they were on first day and he respected the family for taking the action it did.
“There’s nothing wrong with being supportive. Someone needs to speak for that person.”