With two holes in his heart and tiny lungs, Brandon Leftault was born a fighter.
“I’ve had Brandon since the second he came into the world but he crashed on me the first day and he crashed the third day of his life,” said his mother, Diane Leftault, who adopted Brandon at birth.
His resilience was something he carried with him throughout his childhood as his single mother battled cancer and the gruelling treatments that go along with the disease.
Brandon Leftault’s fight came to an end April 2 on a quiet street in the Goulds neighbourhood of St. John’s.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has deemed his death a homicide, and a spokesperson said Tuesday they have a suspect, though no charges have been laid.
Brandon Leftault and his mother moved from El Paso, Texas, to Newfoundland in 2011, after visiting relatives. He enjoyed his time with cousins, riding on a four-wheeler and heading out into the Atlantic on a boat.
But Leftault said the move was out of necessity.
At the age of 10, her son had never been allowed in his front yard without having his mother present.
“There was so much violence, I had to get him out of there, and now I have to deal with the fact that I brought my son to his death,” she said.
“Because, you know, it’s the Goulds. Nobody gets murdered up here … but my son did.”
A late-night visit from police
Leftault said she has received little information from the police on what they know about what happened to her son, and is frustrated at the lack of communication.
“I have had to, in the past four months, deal with people’s conception of why hasn’t it been solved yet,” Leftault said.
“They are asking me the exact same questions that I asked everybody else.”
The RNC were called to the area around 10:40 p.m., after receiving a report of a stabbing. On arrival, responding officers found Leftault near a home on Sunset Street. He was rushed to hospital.
A police officer knocked on Leftault’s door, and told her she’d need to go to the Health Sciences Centre.
Never once, she said, did she think her son was seriously injured — let alone killed.
“When I got to the emergency room, I kept passing rooms, meaning where patients were, and this lady took me to a door and once she opened the door, which was an office, I knew right away,” Leftault said.
“I literally turned around and said to her, ‘This isn’t going to be good, is it?'”
She was told her son had died after being stabbed in the leg. Having a background in health care, she assumed he was struck in an artery — something the chief medical examiner confirmed for her later.
Leftault said she begged and pleaded to see her son, but was told no.
From rumour, I can tell you who killed him. From rumour, I can tell you who was driving. From rumour, I can tell you why it happened, but that and two dollars will get me a Tim Hortons coffee. – Dianne Leftault
It wasn’t until two days later, in the funeral home, that Leftault had her worst fear confirmed.
“My cousin who went with me said, ‘She needs to see her son because she hasn’t seen him yet and she really can’t believe it.'”
The 5 Ws
Leftault said details from the RNC have been scanty at best, adding she cannot get answers to what she considers simple questions.
“‘It’s an ongoing investigation.’ That’s all I got.… Oh, and, ‘It looks good.’ That’s their verbatim response,” she said.
“They won’t even confirm what I heard, who was with him or who wasn’t with him. Nothing, nothing, nothing.”
Rumours, however, have been flying throughout the community, leaving Leftault left to try to attempt to separate fact from fiction.
“From rumour, I can tell you who killed him. From rumour, I can tell you who was driving. From rumour, I can tell you why it happened, but that and two dollars will get me a Tim Hortons coffee,” she said.
“I have more than anyone else’s right to know what is being done in my son’s investigation. Don’t give me names, I don’t care, but give me answers to simple questions.”
RNC spokesperson Const. James Cadigan confirmed Tuesday for the first time publicly that there is a suspect in the Leftault homicide.
“To date there have been approximately 70 interviews completed, and the RNC has completed an extensive and comprehensive canvass of the area where the incident occurred,” Cadigan said.
“Numerous hours of video were obtained and reviewed.”
Cadigan also confirmed there were other people present at the time of the stabbing, but did not elaborate on why or how many.
“Homicide investigations are complex and in order to protect the nature and integrity of an ongoing homicide investigation the RNC [is] not releasing the number of people at the scene at this time.”
He said as per RNC policy a family liaison officer was assigned to Leftault during the investigation and the family has been provided updates.
Lefault said she was contacted by the RNC following CBC’s request for details.
An intelligent mind lost
Coping with an insurmountable loss during the pandemic has been hard, Leftault said.
She is separated from friends and family in the U.S. and until recently was mourning alone, with the exception of her close friend.
Leftault said she is devastated at the loss of such a bright mind who had entrepreneurial plans for the future.
“My son was a very intelligent … and I don’t mean that as a mother proud of her son; he was tested,” she said.
“He had Asperger syndrome so I’ve always described Brandon as Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. He was very intelligent, very imaginative, very, very smart. His weakness was in social skills, you know. When he wanted something it was his way.”
She is hoping for an arrest soon, and has a message for the person who stabbed her son.
“I would like to tell the person who murdered my son … you killed two people that night. You killed my son and you killed me. I hope to God you have nightmares. “