Killer moody before rampage
2007 04:30 AM
Anna Ho wore a pink dress, her hair
in curls, and nails painted as her stepfather, Alton
Beckford, proudly snapped pictures of her in the
school's gymnasium decorated for graduation. She was
on the Grade 8 honour roll.
His hair freshly cut, Beckford wore
pressed trousers and a dress shirt for the occasion.
"Everybody seemed happy," said
neighbour Ria Hosein whose family was also at the
graduation Monday night. Her daughter was in Anna
Ho's class at Thomas L. Wells Public School in
But neighbours had sensed things
hadn't been right at the family's Knowles Dr. home.
Their fears were confirmed Monday night when
emergency personnel arrived around 9:30 p.m. and
discovered the bodies of Beckford, his common-law
wife, Amy Ho, and her mother, believed to be 78.
Beckford had stabbed his wife and
her mother before turning the weapon on himself,
After leaving the graduation
ceremony early, Beckford, 32, Amy Ho, 47, and
13-year-old Anna drove the few blocks back to
Knowles Dr., a quiet street in a subdivision near
Morningside Ave. and Finch Ave. E.
Hosein said she thought it odd that
when she returned home shortly before 9 p.m. she saw
Beckford around the side of his house still dressed
up. Odder still, thought Lola, another neighbour, he
had resumed watering the front lawn after the
The next thing neighbours remembered
seeing was Anna running out of the two-storey brick
house, her hands and face spattered in blood. "She
was screaming, `My mom is dying,'" said Hosein,
standing on the front porch next to her husband,
Tony, who had been sitting on the porch when the
screaming girl ran to them for help.
"She said she told him to stop."
Yesterday the concrete remained
stained with blood drops the size of quarters. A
chair smeared with blood leaned against the house.
Several nearby residents, including
Tony Hosein, called 911.
When police arrived around 9:30 p.m.
they believed a killer was on the loose so the
Emergency Task Force was called in and a manhunt
began. But that was eventually called off and by
dawn homicide investigators acknowledged that what
they were dealing with was a double murder-suicide.
Anna was treated in hospital and
released into the care of her aunt, neighbours said.
Anna's brother, Peter, a student who
is either 17 or 18, was not home at the time and
It's believed Anna and Peter's
biological father lives in Hong Kong.
Neighbours recalled yesterday how
Beckford went from being a happy, smiling and
helpful man to becoming brooding and resentful after
losing his job five weeks ago.
Retiree Lalta Persaud, who lives
across the street, said until recently, Beckford
worked as a sewing machine technician for a company
that makes mattresses. His common-law wife also
worked there and was on the job the day she died.
"He told me he wasn't happy about
the way they treated him because he spoke up about
things in the workplace and was fired," Persaud
said. Among the things Beckford had complained about
was speeding forklifts.
Beckford told him he'd gone to the
union but was bitterly disappointed. "They gave him
A few days ago, Beckford made a
chilling threat. "He told me he's going to kill
somebody there," Persaud said. Persaud urged
Beckford to look for another job. "I told him there
are lots of jobs," Persaud said. He dismissed
Beckford's threats of returning to work to kill
But Persaud also noticed Beckford
had become strangely protective of Anna since he was
let go, driving her to and from school.
Several neighbours said Beckford,
who they believed has family in the west end, had
come to them complaining of headaches.
Lola works with mentally ill
patients and said it was clear he was depressed. "I
could see he was suffering big time."
She liked him a lot and said he
treated the children well. She pointed to the
basketball net at the end of the family driveway.
"He bought that for all the
neighbourhood kids," she said, shaking her head.
"Something must have taken over him yesterday."
But she said there may have been
earlier demons. Lola recalled Beckford resenting a
woman who had dumped him after he brought her to
Canada from Jamaica. She also said he was
disappointed about not having children of his own.