The family of Sue Nesbitt-McNally has broken the silence over the shocking and heart-wrenching details surrounding the final years and days of she and her husband Trevor's lives.
Sometime between the evening of Nov. 19 and the morning of Nov. 20, 2015, Halton Hills firefighter Trevor McNally murdered his wife before taking his own life.
According to Sue's sister, Kim Nesbitt, the family has struggled with the public perception that their loved one died as a result of a fire at the couple's home in Eden Mills, Ont. She wants to clear the air once and for all.
"I just think Sue needs to have a voice," she said. "It's very difficult, but I think the truth needs to be out there that Sue was a domestic violence homicide victim."
"I'm not here to bash Trevor or to judge him, because when he crossed over, he was judged. I can't believe what he did. It hurts me that he did that, and I know he was dealing with demons of some sort. Trevor didn't want to be in this world for some reason. Alcohol was a big contributor. When he was good he was good; when he was bad he was really bad."
"I'm sorry that he hated his life that much. I wish he would have talked to us or tried to get help, because we would have been there for him 100 per cent. I cared deeply for him," added Kim.
The McNallys' 14-year marriage ended that fateful night in 2015 in the most tragic of ways, and while no one will ever know Trevor's true motivations, Kim believes her sister was killed because she had just informed her husband that she was leaving the marriage.
Nesbitt said her sister had been discussing ending the relationship with family and friends for some time, and told her just two days before the murder that she had informed Trevor of her plans to do so.
"She was leaving the relationship and lost her life," she said. "I talked to Sue Wednesday … Thursday I hadn't talked to her. She was leaving work early (for) an appointment with her counsellor. She was going to discuss the steps to take in leaving the marriage and how to go about it."
The counsellor was the last person — other than Trevor — to see Sue alive. Kim said her appointment that day was at 3:45 p.m., after which she returned home. She was killed at some point between then and the morning of Nov. 20, when a fire in the home was discovered by a pair of Halton Hills firefighters.
According to Kim, and confirmed by the police report, Sue was discovered upstairs in her bedroom with a single stab wound to the heart. Nesbitt said Trevor was discovered downstairs in the living room, dressed in his full ceremonial firefighter uniform.
After killing his wife, Trevor put the couple's two dogs in his truck. He then started a fire in the basement — his chosen way to end his own life — which did not engulf the house, but caused a lot of heavy smoke.
While the version of the police report given to the Nesbitts was redacted to exclude any and all information relating to Trevor, Kim said investigators told her Trevor died from smoke inhalation. A toxicology report also revealed he had consumed a large amount of alcohol. Sue had no smoke or soot in her lungs, which means she died before the fire was started.
The tragic events surrounding their deaths are shocking on their own, but this story started at least three years earlier, when the couple lived on Browns Crescent in Acton.
Trevor McNally had developed a severe drinking problem and had attempted suicide twice before in the years leading up to he and his wife's death. Kim, while not sure of the exact dates, said the first time he tried to kill himself was in November 2012, when two of his fellow firefighters discovered him trying to hang himself in the garage.
His two colleagues managed to rescue him before he could take his own life, and that's where Kim said things really began to noticeably deteriorate — both in terms of Trevor's mental state and the couple's marriage.
He got counselling and attended rehab following that incident and Kim said things improved — for a time.
"His drinking was out of control sometimes. Then he would be good; he would try. He would be good for a little bit and then he would fall back," said Kim. "My sister loved him so much, and she just wanted him to be OK and get help."
Kim said the second time he attempted to take his own life was in January 2014. That time, it was Sue who discovered him in the bathtub of their Acton home and called 911.
"He had slit his throat with a butcher knife, slit his wrists, taken a bottle of 100 Tylenol 3s and drank a bottle of Crown Royal," she said.
"He was taken to the hospital, (my husband) Paul and I went to meet Sue at the hospital that night, and I prayed for him to survive because she was devastated. She wanted him to live. She loved him so much, she wanted him to be OK," added Kim. "It was very close. For all intents and purposes, he should have died that day; but he didn't. For whatever reason, he miraculously survived."
He once again entered counselling and again appeared to be improving. It was after that attempt that the couple moved to the Eden Mills home where the tragic events of November 2015 took place. Kim said Sue hoped the move would help Trevor, after all that had already transpired at their Acton home.
She added Trevor's behaviour in the last few of years of his life seemed to follow a pattern.
"His dark time was between November to January. I don't know what happened to him in his past … but there was something that triggered this self-loathing and just not wanting to be in this world between November and January — those were his danger months," said Kim.
That observation would be proven tragically accurate in November 2015, when that darkness claimed both he and his wife's lives.
Part of the reason the family didn't go public earlier was the death of their mother, Denise Nesbitt, who passed away just eight months later in July 2016 from what Kim described as "dying of a broken heart." At that point, she said it was just too hard to talk about.
Prior to that, Wellington OPP investigators — while not ordering them not to — discouraged them from making details of the crime public to the media while the investigation was ongoing and before the coroner's report was released. She added sorting out the late couple's estate was also a factor in not coming forward with the information sooner.
Since then, Kim said she and her family have slowly worked their way up to going public, pushed by the false perception created by initial media reports that suggested the couple was happy and died together in a fire.
Shortly after the murder, Wellington OPP refused to make any more details of the case public, claiming doing so would only "re-victimize" the families. But, Kim believes there is only one victim in this case — her sister — and her story needs to be told.
She also believes the lack of information initially released — and never corrected — has contributed to the public's perception of what actually happened. The OPP have never released or confirmed any of the details in the case.
A Google search looking for information surrounding the case provides few results, and the only details available are in initial reports which claim the couple died in a fire and that a criminal investigation was underway.
Another reason she gave for them coming forward was the way she said the Halton Hills fire department handled the aftermath of Sue and Trevor's deaths, which she said was very hurtful to their family.
The first three people on the scene — before emergency crews arrived — were fire Chief Brent Marshall (now Halton Hills chief administrative officer), Deputy Chief Harry Olivieri and Assistant Deputy Chief Bruce Morrison. Olivieri and Morrison were first on scene, realized there was a fire and called in the emergency. Marshall followed shortly thereafter.
The three men tried to gain access to the home several times before emergency crews arrived, but were pushed back by the heavy smoke.
In November 2016, all three men were awarded Medals of Bravery by the province of Ontario for their actions that day.
"My mother was so upset (when she found out about the medals in announced in February 2016). She said, 'When is the truth going to come out? Why are they saying she died in a fire?'" said Kim.
"My family felt like it was another slap in the face. We felt like, 'Why the hell are you awarding them bravery (medals) for coming into a home where your firefighter murdered his frickin' wife?' I could understand if it was a legit situation where they were at a house fire and these firefighters valiantly tried to get in to save them — 100 per cent."
"But, knowing what you know (in hindsight) — Brent Marshall tried to tell me on the phone when I said to him my sister died of stab wound to the heart, 'I was not aware of that'. How are you not aware of that when you were on the scene when they did CPR on the driveway? Where did all the blood come from?" she added.
Kim said that call took place several days after the murder, and the police report appears to confirm reasons for her questions in this regard, as investigators' notes from the scene contain several mentions of an obvious stab wound to Sue's chest.
Regardless, the family wants members of the public to know what really happened to their sister.
"Sue was amazing. She was big-hearted, loving, kind. She was a very good daughter to our parents, a great sister and adoring wife to Trevor. A cherished aunt to her nieces and nephews. She was the rock to our family."
"I miss her every day. Every day I think about her … She deserved a lot more than what she got."