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Kelowna murder victim was five months pregnant and trying to start new life

Russia Nicholson and her mother Marilyn. Russia's body was found in a Kelowna orchard Oct. 11, 2017. She was 23 when she died.
Image Credit: Submitted
October 18, 2017 - 1:10 PM

KELOWNA – Marilyn Nicholson lost more than a daughter when Russia Nicholson was murdered last week.

She also lost a grandchild.

Russia was five months pregnant when she died sometime last week. An orchardist stumbled upon her lifeless body Oct. 11, only meters from Cooper Road and less than a kilometer from Orchard Park Mall.

Her sister Naomi says she had stopped using drugs when she found out about the pregnancy and was getting excited about life again.

“Russia wanted to be clean,” she says. “She’s been trying to get clean the last three years but she met so many barriers. They turned her away again and she said she was going to die.”

After months on detox waitlists, she flew to Winnipeg where her sister and brother-in-law helped her detox.

“It was hell. I thought she was going to die,” Naomi says.

Russia, the youngest of three sisters, was the baby of the family. She was especially close with her 68-year-old father Ed.

“He was everything to her,” Naomi says. “She picked up my dad and took him to all his radiation appointments. She was a caretaker. She never missed an appointment, no matter what."

Edward Ralston Nicholson passed away March 1, 2016.

“She came to pick him up and found him on the floor.”

His death hit Russia hard and the drug use accelerated.

“She had no emotion, it’s like she had no soul,” Naomi says. “She lived for him, especially in the months before he died.”

Murder victim Russia Nicholson was close with her father Ed before he died March 1, 2016.
Murder victim Russia Nicholson was close with her father Ed before he died March 1, 2016.
Image Credit: Submitted

Russia had nine nieces and four nephews. She was born in Mission where her childhood was spent surrounded by family.

One of her nieces, Meagan Badr, says even though Russia was seven years younger, she took the role of aunt very seriously.

“She made us call her Aunty Russia,” she says. “She was proud of the title, it didn’t matter that she was younger, she tried to boss us around. You couldn’t control her but she was a really good kid.”

She describes Russia as stubborn, confident, funny and always willing to help people around her.

When she was 14, she found a posting in a local paper by a terminally ill woman looking for a care aid.

“She would go there on her own time. She’d record her shows and tidy up around the house and just keep her company."

When payday came, the elderly woman handed her a nickel.

“Russia would be like, ‘oh my God, thank you SO much,’” Naomi says.

Russia also helped take care of an elderly man who lives near her home in West Kelowna.

“She’d always go down and cook supper for an old man, he’s really old, she used to go over and cook for him and visit for him.”

Russia Nicholson and her older sister Naomi.
Russia Nicholson and her older sister Naomi.
Image Credit: Submitted/Facebook

Naomi’s husband, Russia’s brother-in-law Jamie Drennan, remembers driving through Vancouver with Russia after getting fast food. They passed a man who appeared to be living on the streets.

“She was demanding that we go back and buy him some food,” he says. “When I refused she made me pull over and she gave him her lunch.”

Russia’s childhood friend Christine Jensen remembers her as the life of the party who lit up every room she walked into.

“She’d crack a joke and make you smile if you were in a bad mood,” she says. “She was such a loving person.”

The Nicholson family have yet to find out how Russia died, the investigation is ongoing and police are releasing few details. They are appealing to the public for information and are asking businesses near Cooper Road and Collison Road to check their surveillance footage for her car.

Her family continues to wait for answers as they try to cope with the tragic loss of two young lives.

“(She) would have been born in February, like her.”

Image Credit: Submitted

- This story was corrected at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 18, 2017 after RCMP informed the family that Russia's unborn baby was female.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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