By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff
Salvaging valuables from dumpsters is something Sandra Fournier and Rodney Connors have done countless times. A microwave here, a coil of copper wire there. But on Jan. 26, the friends found something that will be etched in their memory — the partial remains of 24-year-old Kelsey Felker, who friends describe as a kind and generous woman.
Connors had discovered a microwave in the dumpster by 250 Frederick St. He brought Fournier along to help him lift the find, when he discovered Kelsey.
“He proceeded to say, ‘There’s a body in here.’ And I said, ‘Don’t joke about something about that,” said Fournier, who attended a memorial for Felker at Civic Square Monday night.
“We weren’t sure what we saw. I didn’t even phone 911. I just phoned the front desk.”
As police tape went up, it became clear that they had discovered something heinous. The memory hasn’t left Fournier, who was offered counselling with victim services, but has opted to see her family doctor.
While Fournier doesn’t live at 250 Fredrick St., she can see the building from her home when she looks out the window. She hopes not to have to move, but says the reminder is difficult.
“That’s why I’m here,” she said at Monday’s memorial. “I’m trying to get closure. I’m having a really hard time dealing with it. I wake up screaming . . .
“I met her brother. I’m hoping that helps. I was hoping to meet her mother, but her mother couldn’t make it.”
Dozens of Felker’s friends and family gathered at city hall to remember her sunny, generous personality.
“She always had respect for people. She would give you the shirt off her back,” said one woman, who asked not to be named.
While Felker had issues with drugs, it didn’t define her or change her as a person, said friends, frustrated with how she has been portrayed.
“I knew her from the street. We spent a lot of time talking,” said Paul Chahor, who knew Kelsey for six years. “She was a scared little girl who put on a front because that’s the way the streets kind of made her.”
“She was very kind and caring. She would do anything for you,” said Lisa Cameron. “She didn’t deserve this.”
Samantha Horwath first met Felker in high school, and like many others at the memorial, was taken by her generosity.
“We ended up moving to Kitchener at the same time when we were around 14, 15 years old and we were in the system together for a number of years,” she said.
“She was a really good friend and a really good person. She would basically do anything for you. We were in foster care together and we were basically all each other had for a long time.”
When they were young, Horwath and Felker lived at Safe Haven, a youth shelter in Kitchener, and received cab rides back and forth to their school. Eventually they were switched to different schools, away from their friends, according to Horwath.
“Me and Kelsey used to hop the Grey Hound and go visit everybody at our school. That’s a really good memory because she was from where I was from, and we kind of got uprooted from all our friends . . .
“She was my really good friend when I really needed somebody, and I’ll never forget her for that.”
On Jan. 31, police arrested Stephen Roy Johnson, 37, of Kitchener, and charged him with first degree murder and indignity to a human body in connection with Felker’s death.
More remains were discovered in a wooded area off River Road in the area of Old Chicopee Drive and near Springwood Park near Woodside Natural Historic Site.