A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the death of Cassidy Bernard.
The 22-year-old Bernard was found unresponsive inside her home on Highway 105 on the We'koqma'q First Nation, N.S., on Oct. 24, 2018.
Her five-month-old twin girls were found inside a crib next to their mother. They were dehydrated, but they weren’t injured.
Police say 20-year-old Dwight Austin Isadore of Wagmatcook, N.S., was arrested Monday. He has been charged with second-degree murder in Bernard’s death.
Isadore, Bernard’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her two daughters, has also been charged with two counts of abandoning a child in connection with the incident.
The RCMP confirmed the arrest and charges during a news conference at the community hall on the We'koqma'q First Nation Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to be able to provide Cassidy’s family with this outcome,” said RCMP Sgt. Glenn Bonvie. “I hope that the arrest and charges will be a step forward in the healing process for the family and the entire community.”
When asked why it took more than a year to make an arrest, Bonvie said it was a complex case.
“We want to ensure that we collect all the necessary evidence to support the charges that are now before the courts,” he said. “We cannot rush things like that and you can’t put a time limit on it.”
Bonvie declined to release any details about the evidence or how Bernard died, saying the matter was before the courts.
He did say he doesn’t expect police to make any additional arrests or lay additional charges against Isadore.
Bonvie also noted that the RCMP was grateful for the community’s efforts in raising awareness about the case.
“It definitely was an added bonus to have the continued support of the family and the community,” he said. “They’ve been along every step of the way. We’ve been in regular contact with them throughout this investigation. It’s nice knowing that we had that support to be able to come to this conclusion today.”
Bernard’s family and friends were vocal about wanting justice and they held a number of protests to raise awareness about the case. The local band council was also offering a $100,000 reward for information.
For a community that's been left heartbroken over the last year, Tuesday's arrest offered some closure.
"It's a great relief for not only me, but the whole community," said Chief Rod Googoo of the We'koqma'q First Nation. "We lost such a beautiful child. It impacted everybody, from the elders all the way down to the children."
As the RCMP press conference got underway, Isadore was making his first court appearance 30 minutes away in Port Hawkesbury.
Cassidy's mother Mona Bernard was there because she wanted to be face-to-face with the man the RCMP alleges took her daughter's life.
"We are so overjoyed," Mona Bernard said. "It was so good for me to see him in handcuffs and shackles. That's all I thought about."
Community resident Janey Michael is hoping the charges will not be reduced to manslaughter.
"It will never bring closure to our community," Michael said. "We lost a young woman. A new mother. There will be healing, but we will always remember Cassidy. She will be in our hearts and our mind."
Isadore appeared in Port Hawkesbury provincial court Tuesday morning and is due back Wednesday morning.
Mona Bernard says today has brought her family some peace. She never attended the press conference, instead she says she had to see the man who allegedly killed her daughter face to face as he made his first court appearance in Port Hawkesbury. More at 6pm. @CTVAtlantic pic.twitter.com/YIuQsc8t88— Kyle Moore (@KyleMooreCTV) December 3, 2019 December 3, 2019
Austin Isadore is scheduled to appear in Port Hawkesbury court at 10am this morning. @RCMPNS are expected to confirm arrest and charges in relation to Cassidy Bernard’s death at a press conference at 11am this morning. @CTVAtlantic pic.twitter.com/DOv8AD2v7K— Kyle Moore (@KyleMooreCTV) December 3, 2019