Originally published May 17, 2016
Jack Huffman found it strange that Anne Norris had nothing when she moved into an empty apartment at Harbour View Apartments 11 days ago.
She had just been discharged from the Waterford Hospital, he said, and all she had was two bags of clothes and a stuffed teddy bear.
"She didn't have any furniture, no pots and pans. Not even a bed," said Huffman, the building's superintendent, who showed Norris the apartment. "I felt really bad for her."
It was Friday afternoon, May 6.
Three days later, the body of a 46-year-old man was found under the steps behind the apartment building on Brazil Street. Marcel Reardon appeared to have been badly beaten, according to Huffman, who was one of the first to see the body.
Early Saturday morning, Norris was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Huffman couldn't believe it when he heard the news that police believed she was responsible for Reardon's death.
"It was a shock," Huffman said during an interview Monday at his apartment, located in another area of the city.
"She was so sweet and so polite. She reminded me of my daughter and she told me I reminded her of her father or her 'Pops.' It's hard to believe that this timid, attractive, sweet little young woman could have done something like this."
He said he and a few other tenants gathered a few things to help her out.
Huffman said after Reardon's body was found, Norris didn't seem bothered, chatting with him in the maintenance room shortly afterwards.
"I don't know how she was able to block it out (if she was involved)," he said. "She was very calm and collected."
Huffman said afterwards, the police would not allow Norris to return to her third-floor apartment, No. 307. Huffman said Norris told him she had lost her apartment key, so he moved her into No. 302. Again, the police banned her from entering that apartment.
The window of apartment 307 is directly above the crime scene, he said.
"In retrospect, I did find it strange that she had nothing and no family around. Something wasn't right," said Huffman, who added he didn't know Reardon.
"But you think about it, what kind of system do we have to allow someone like her - obviously someone with mentalhealth issues - to move into an apartment with nothing? It's just not right.
"To me, she seems somewhat of a victim here."
Huffman is convinced there is something more involved in the murder than the allegations against Norris.
"(Reardon) was a relatively big man, over 200 pounds. She's, I'd say, 110 pounds," he said. "There's no way she could've crushed his skull like that and then pulled him under the stairwell....
"I'm not going to feel at ease until I hear (of someone else being arrested)."
Huffman said he recently spoke with Norris's family. Her father, he said, lives in Florida, while other relatives were visiting at the time from Germany.
"They are very nice people and are all very upset about this," Huffman said. "(Norris) is obviously a troubled woman with a history of mental illness and needs help."
Norris had been arrested two days before she rented the apartment. On May 4, she appeared in provincial court in St. John's charged with assaulting a woman, uttering threats to another woman, mischief and assaulting a peace officer. She was released from custody and was given a return date of June 23.
When she was in the holding cells at court, she was reportedly aggressive with sheriff's officers.
Reardon had a criminal record, including charges of break and enter and court breaches. It's unknown if he and Norris knew each other.
"I apologize to Mr. Reardon's family because nobody deserves that," Huffman said. "He was somebody's little boy at some point. It's a tragedy all around."
Huffman, who moved to this province five years ago from Ontario, said the ordeal has had a huge impact on him.
"It's been extremely taxing on me, mentally," he said. "I need to take a step back and try not to feel so involved.
"This has been a traumatic experience for so many people."