YARMOUTH, N.S. – Physically the bruises are starting to fade, and the swelling has gone down, but emotionally the road will be long for a Yarmouth teenager who police say was the victim of a brutal attack on Jan. 4.
Members of the 17-year-old’s family were in provincial court in Yarmouth on Jan. 10 as two of the people accused of confining, assaulting and threatening the girl made court appearances. Both accused consented to being kept in custody.
“She physically looks a lot better than what she did, but emotionally one minute she’s OK and then the next minute she’s upset and crying. … She doesn’t think that it’s even hit her yet, that it’s sunk in,” a family member said, when asked how the girl is doing.
“She’s trying to keep a smile on her face the best way she can, she’s trying to act strong,” the family member said. But as the teenager continues to struggle through the physical and the emotional toll of what she has been through, she continues to be very afraid.
The family member said that while the details of the attack are very hard for the girl’s own family members to comprehend and deal with, “We’re all going to keep our composure and keep ourselves together so we can support her.”
Residents of Yarmouth have been angry, upset, stunned and horrified by what is alleged in court documents and information released by the RCMP to have occurred. People have also reached out to the family, directly or indirectly – or through messages on social media — to show their support for the girl as she continues to heal.
Said the girl’s grandmother, “We just really appreciate the support that they’re showing us and we’re going to stand up for her. . . Thank God she remembered the stuff that she did, because that helped the police.”
According to the RCMP, the girl was picked up on Cliff Street on Jan. 4 in a blue Hyundai Tucson. Her family says the driver was a friend, or so the girl thought, and therefore she had no reason to worry about accepting a ride. But what the teenager didn’t know is that three people were hiding in the vehicle.
“She would have never gotten into the vehicle if she had seen the other people,” said her grandmother.
According to the RCMP, the girl was taken to multiple locations – on Leighton Street in Hebron, and to residences within town, including Baker and Green streets. She was reportedly held against her will and assaulted by five suspects over a time frame that spanned about three hours.
The police have said she was punched and kicked in the head, dragged by her hair, had water poured over her face and down her throat and that one individual tried to get a dog to attack her.
The girl’s family said her fingernails were removed. They also said she told them that she was given wipes to clean blood from her face when she was on Leighton Street.
After leaving a residence on the Acadia Band reserve located off Route 3 (the airport stretch) in Yarmouth, she saw an opportunity to escape, the girl's family said. While before she had been kept seated in between other people in the vehicle, this time when she was put in the car she was seated next to the door. In what her family calls survival mode, they said the girl told them that she knew when the vehicle stopped at the stop sign, before turning onto Route 3, that this would be her chance to escape.
At the stop sign she opened the door and was eventually able to get herself out of the vehicle. She ran screaming to the nearby Winner’s World convenience store where staff called 911.
The charges before the court have not yet been proven and no elections or pleas have taken place.
The two people in court on Jan. 10 were 19-year-old Danesha Russell and 19-year-old Jadelyn Kristi-Ann Rhyno, also known as Trey, the Crown said.
Both accused are charged with aggravated assault; assault with a weapon; unlawful confinement; conspiracy to commit an indictable offence; and uttering threats to cause bodily harm.
Both were slated to have a show-cause/bail hearing but both consented to remaining in custody. Rhyno will be back in court on Jan. 28 and Russell will be back on Feb. 4. Court elections and show-cause hearings are slated for their upcoming court appearances. The Crown has stated that it is opposed to their release. Both were arrested on Jan. 7.
Also charged is a 17-year-old girl whose identity is banned from publication because of her age. She turned herself in to the RCMP on Jan. 5. She faces the same charges as Russell and Rhyno and is scheduled to be in youth court on Feb. 26.
Two more people are facing charges that had not yet been filed with the court as of Jan. 10. Their identities will be made public when the charges are filed. A 19-year-old female is facing charges of aggravated assault; assault with a weapon; unlawful confinement; and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. She was arrested in Salmon River, Digby County, on the night of the incident and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 19.
A 64-year-old woman is facing charges of assault with a weapon. She was arrested at her Green Street home on Jan. 6 and is also scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 19.
The RCMP say their investigation into this case continues and that more charges could be a possibility, depending on what the investigation finds. They have appealed to the public to share any information they may have that would aid the police in their investigation.