The mother of a young man killed last year by overdose says she is relieved Sault Police made an arrest in the case and hopes for the stiffest penalty possible for the alleged trafficker now charged with manslaughter.
Tania Williams was reached by phone in southern Ontario on Friday, the same day Sault Police announced an arrest in the almost year-old death of her son Paris Williams.
The eldest of her six children, Paris was 24 when he died of a fentanyl overdose on March 7, 2023 in the 200 block of Bruce Street.
Williams had moved to Sault Ste. Marie with her six children in September of 2022 looking for a better life, but she said that’s not what her family found.
“Right away my girls didn’t like it because the mall only had one level,” Williams told SooToday. “After a while [Paris] was like: ‘Mom, there's not really any opportunities here for me or my siblings.’”
She said Paris did have issues with alcohol use, but he was employed and not known by her to be a big drug user. She remembers her son as a healthy kid who loved the outdoors and talking to people.
“He's always been a very kind, respectful, polite young man,” she said.
In a Friday news release, Sault Police said “forensic analysis following the victim’s death determined the cause of death was fentanyl and ethanol intoxication.”
Charges of manslaughter and trafficking in a controlled substance were laid by Sault Police against Henry Cadreau, 41, on Thursday. Those charges have not been tested in court.
Cadreau appeared in a Sault Ste. Marie courtroom on Friday, with his bail hearing put over until Feb. 13.
Williams is holding out hope that Cadreau will not receive bail, be found guilty and receive the maximum possible sentence for manslaughter, which is life in prison.
“I think people who are poisoning people should be put away,” said Williams. “You’re killing people, you’re a serial killer.”
Simply put, manslaughter is a homicide committed without the intention to cause death. Although rare, manslaughter charges have been laid against alleged fentanyl traffickers in cases of fatal overdoses.
In the police news release, Chief Hugh Stevenson said this is the first time the department had enough evidence to lay a manslaughter charge against an alleged trafficker since he took the job in 2018.
“This sends a strong message to the people profiting off poison in our community. In this case, a life was taken,” Stevenson said. “This criminality cannot continue. We will investigate thoroughly and use the fullest extent of the law to bring cases before the courts.”
On Thursday evening Williams received a phone call from a Sault Police detective, just over 11 months after her son died. She knew police were actively working on her son’s case but was still caught off guard by the charges being filed.
After her son’s death, Williams moved the family back to southern Ontario.
“I guess I should have done more research,” she said about her original decision to move to the Sault. “My kids were scared.”
Despite losing her son, Williams said she is still hopeful that things will get better.
“This drug epidemic that we're going through, the fentanyl and the zylazine and all of these things. People are so sick with it,” she said.