Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 17, 2012

NEW: Family mourns slaying of former Stillwater teen in Canada

— Madeline Hood lived in Stillwater when she was in grade school.

On July 7, she died in Canada.

Niagara regional police say Hood, 19, was found dead after a fire in her basement apartment in St. Catharines in Ontario, the St. Catharines Standard reported.

Cassell Farnsworth, also 19, has been charged with first-degree murder and arson disregarding human life, the Standard reported. Farnsworth and Hood had attended the same secondary school in Canada. Police have released few details of the case.

Hood, known as “Maddie” to friends and family, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but lived in Stillwater from 1999 to 2004. Stepmother Suzie Lane and Hood’s mother, Colleen Hood, both worked at Oklahoma State University at the time.

“(Madeline) played soccer,” Lane told the NewsPress. “She started out soccer with the YMCA group. Then she played with the Surge Soccer Club in Stillwater. Maddie — she was a tall child — so because of that she ended up having to actually play soccer at least a bracket up.”

Lane said Hood also played the piano, held recitals and was a member of the Girl Scouts.

Even after moving to St. Catharines in 2004, Hood never forgot the friendships she had made.

“She (kept) in contact with the kids she went to grade school with,” Lane said.

Hood worked for the United Way in Canada.

“Last year, she was doing research for them,” Lane said.

She said those associated with the United Way were impressed with her capabilities and gave her more responsibilities.

“She went to various fundraisers,” Lane said. “She worked at the Food Bank. Wherever they directed her, there she was.”

Lane said the teen was passionate about helping others.

“She demonstrated that even while she was there and in school,” Lane said. “The kids who didn’t have everything that she had, she was more than willing to share with them. She stood up for what she believed in and what was right was right.”

Information about Hood’s slaying, including what Farnsworth’s involvment may have been, is still unclear to the family.

“We found out that they had gone to school together, but Maddie’s friends said they didn’t run in the same crowds,” Lane said.

Police have not shared with the family how Hood was killed, her stepmother said.

“As a family, we only know pretty much the same thing that everyone else knows,” Lane said.

Lane said she and the rest of the family are at a loss for words as they try to make sense of the ordeal.

“We cry a lot, numb, and yesterday, I was really thinking about it,” Lane said. “It’s like being in shock. You just hunker down and wait until you’re OK. Not really seeing a lot of people; it’s just hard. That’s the same for her mom and dad. It’s just unbelievable.

“The police have totally said she was a victim,” Lane said. “There is nothing at all that we have found that she has done that would have even caused this. She is a pure victim.”

Lane said police are still looking for two laptop computers  missing from Hood’s apartment.

“They were both her personal laptops,” Lane said. “She was very big into music and with that, one was pretty much geared to music and the other was just her personal and what she did.”

Hood’s mother, Colleen, and Lane live in St. Catharines. Hood’s father, Rob, and her brother live in Camloop, British Columbia.

The United Way where Hood worked has set up a fund in her name.

“This is the first time (they’ve done that),” Lane said. “It’s totally unprecedented here.”

The family wants any donations to go to the fund.

“Right now, they’re looking at the possibility of it going toward victims of violence or there is a distress center here that also works with all the people in this area that need to call in,” Lane said. “So, those are the possibilities or even the food bank because the fact that Maddie was so involved with that. That hasn’t been totally decided.”

For Hood’s friends and acquaintances in Stillwater, Lane said she hopes they will remember three things about Maddie.

“Her smile, her laugh and her kindness,” she said.

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