#17 – Bruised & Broken – Bonnie Tatti

It was a beautiful day. Bright, sunny & warm. A true mark that spring was soon turning into summer. A feeling of unspoken promise. It was Bonnie’s 45th birthday, wedding anniversary and the Monday of a long weekend. Little did she know her husband Gary was planning a small get together for her later that day. Everyone was home, Gary was waiting for a friend to pick him up so they can go pick up a cake for Bonnie’s birthday. Bonnie quietly slipped out of the house shortly before 11 AM, only to be found broken and bruised at the end of a neighbour’s driveway just around the corner 10 – 15 minutes or so later.  This is Bonnie Tatti’s story.

Bonnie’s life wasn’t always an easy one. She had a hard up bringing. When Bonnie was young her father died as a result of homicide during a bar fight. She then lost contact with her mother and was placed in a foster home. She moved from foster home to foster home, running away from each one of them.  And then one day, she became pregnant with her first child, a boy she named David. Her younger brother said it was amazing to see the change in his sister when David was born as she was so in love with the little boy. Unfortunately, she eventually lost custody of her little boy.

Bonnie met Gary sometime in and around 1984. She was only 19 and he was 20 years her senior. But they weren’t bothered by their May-December romance. Gary was head over heels. She was a blonde bombshell and very sweet, his Marylyn Monroe he is quoted as saying.  A friend introduced them and they just clicked and eventually ended up getting married at The Little White Chapel in Las Vegas on one of her birthdays. Then, some time later, along came Mitchell when she was 29 and Leah just a year later. Her kids were the center of her world. Having gone so long without reconnecting with her mom, Bonnie devoted a lot of time when the kids were young and was a stay at home Mom. Both her brother and Husband Gary said that she was a great mom when things were going well.

However, the unresolved traumas of her past and likely an undiagnosed mental health issue went hand in hand in the downward spiral she found herself in. At some point Bonnie started drinking more and more and as a consequence fell frequently. On one of these times that she fell, she injured her shoulder and was prescribed oxycontin, which is the slow release version of oxycodone, another name it’s known by is Percocet. Like many before her, she developed a dependency and an addiction to opioids, and may have also started selling on the street for extra money.

Opioids are a class of drugs that act in the nervous system. Basically, they attach to different proteins called G Protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) on nerve cells that are found in your brain, spinal cord, and some other parts of your body. They act in a few different ways, they can act on the limbic system, which controls emotions and can give you a feeling of relaxation by releasing large amounts of dopamine, they also act on the nerve cells (neurons) in the spinal cord which block pain signals back to your brain, so you feel pain free and they can act on the brainstem which controls breathing and your heartbeat. 

There are 2 main categories of opioids: Legally Prescribed or Medicine and Illegal drugs. Commonly prescribed opioids are codeine, morphine, oxycontin or oxycodone, Percocet, and Vicodin.  These are usually prescribed to manage pain following surgery or for chronic pain which is pain that persists over longer periods of time. Both prescribed and illegal opioids can cause addiction, especially when used over a long period of time, even if the medications are prescribed properly and taken as directed. Addiction shouldn’t be confused with dependency though, virtually everyone will become dependent on the drug if they take it long term, meaning that if you would abruptly stop if would cause you physical & psychological withdrawal symptoms. A small percentage of people who take prescribed opioids do become addicted as well. One reason is because the longer you take the drug the more your body gets used to it, and you start to feel as though you need more or a higher dosage to maintain that original feeling. Doctor’s will recognize this and will not typically increase the dosages because of the known risks. Therefore, a lot of people will turn to illegal means to obtain more. Addiction to opioids is characterized as a very strong compulsive urge to use them, even if not needed medically. People who are addicted often will prioritize getting and using these drugs over other activities in their lives. This compulsive urge coupled with a limited supply or having the supply cut off from their family doctor will lead people to look for this via illegal means. Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others, some scientists believe there is a genetic component but overall, it’s not truly known why some people are more susceptible than others.

The time line on these events are unknown, however it cumulated to the extent that Bonnie and Gary split in 2008 and Bonnie left the family home. Even though they did end up separating, Gary said they were still there for each other and he still loved Bonnie very much, which is why when she started to really try to turn her life around, he invited her back to the family home.

She was rebuilding her relationship with her kids and had recently gotten back I touch with her mom; she was trying really hard to get her life back on that right track, but she still had her demons to fight. It wasn’t until late 2009 to early 2010 that Bonnie had moved back in to the family home with her 2 teenage children and her ex-husband. They had lived at that house for over 20 years. It’s a very calm and quiet residential area filled with single family homes.

Monday May 24th 2010 had exceptional weather, partially cloudy with a high of 26C (79 F). It was Bonnie’s 45th birthday and also Bonnie and Gary’s wedding anniversary. Bonnie didn’t know this, but Gary was arranging a surprise get together for her later that day. He had called a friend that morning so they go together to pick up a birthday cake and some other items. 

Bonnie stepped out of her house on Dalkeith Avenue shortly before 11:00 AM, unbeknownst to Gary and her two kids.

At around 11:00 Am neighbours said they heard a bang and turned to find Bonnie laying at the end of a driveway, bloody and bruised and barely breathing.

One neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, told a Hamilton spectator journalist at the time, that she was outside cleaning her vehicle on that Monday at approximately 11 AM on Rosslyn Avenue when she heard a large bang behind her. She turned around and saw a woman laying face down near the road and saw a black SUV speed away.

Witnesses heard someone yell “Hey” followed by a loud thump, just before seeing a large black SUV speed off, slightly squealing its tires as it peeled away from the scene.

Bonnie was barely recognizable. Her face was swollen, bloody and bruised. She was breathing, but just barely. One of the neighbours said that even though they had known Bonnie most of their life, it wasn’t until her husband came running out to her on the street that she realized who she was.

I visited this location to get a sense of the area where Bonnie was fatally injured. Here are some photos of the area. The area itself was fairly quiet when I visited on a Sunday afternoon. There wasn’t too much traffic, other than residents and some visitors. Only 1 or 3 driveways faced Rosslyn Avenue between Dalkeith, where Bonnie lived, and Craigmiller.

The SUV was identified by witnesses as a flat black 1996 / 1997 GMC Jimmy SUV with a burnt out or smashed tail light and chrome rims. The GMC Jimmy had been parked on the wrong side of Rosslyn Avenue facing the wrong way. So, on the left side of the street facing Barton Street. The residents had recognized the SUV as one that had been in the neighbourhood before.

Shortly after Bonnie’s broken and bleeding body was dumped at the end of a neighbour’s driveway on Rosslyn avenue Gary received a phone call saying there was a woman laying on the street. Gary ran out instantly, in his heart he knew it was Bonnie. When he reached her she was still alive, but barely. She had a severe head injury and an injured torso. She was struggling to breathe. She was not conscious. His first thought was that she was hit by a car. 911 was called. People had started gathering on the street and naturally when seeing their dad rush out and people gathering the 2 teens came out too. The two kids that lived at home were at home that day as it was Victoria Day (which is a federal Canadian public holiday in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday.) Gary stopped the two kids from seeing their mom in this way, laying on the side of the street, broken & bleeding.

Bonnie was tended to by the Emergency Response Services and Hamilton Fire Department and quickly brought to the Hamilton General Hospital. She underwent emergency surgery for her life-threatening injuries.

The police blocked off the street. There were uniformed patrol officers on scene as well as divisional detectives, a forensic services unit, the accident reconstruction unit, as well as members of the victim-assistance office.

The uniformed police officers canvased the neighbourhood looking for anyone who may have witnessed the incident.

Gary had mentioned that she had made some friends in the past year of her life, people that he didn’t know. He believed that some of these friends may have known where she was going or who was with her.

Bonnie was either thrown from the car, or run over or very likely both. Law enforcement will not confirm these details. Gary said that Bonnie would not have gotten into the car with a stranger, and it is assumed that she knew the occupant(s). The police said that Bonnie was hurt in a very short time frame before she was found. She remained in the hospital in critical condition in a coma. She never regained consciousness. The prognosis wasn’t very good, the doctors hadn’t given the family reason to hope for recovery. Bonnie was place on life support. Her heart continued beating for almost a week after she was taken off life support. She died on June 17, 2010. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Witnesses indicated that a there was a male occupant driving and one witness told the police that they saw a female, who was not Bonnie in the back of the SUV.

Investigators believed drugs were involved. The SUV and the male occupant are believed to be a known drug dealer or the that the vehicle was known to deliver drugs in the neighbourhood. At one-point law enforcement told Gary that they believed they knew who the woman was in the back of the SUV however she had passed away in 2018. To this extent law enforcement have confirmed a person of interest.

Gary still lives in the same area. He told Susan Clairmont, a reporter for the Hamilton Spectator, early last year that he passes by the spot where the love of his life was fatally injured and that he has agonized for the past 9 years over her final moments. Was she beaten, run over, was in intentional? Was it over drugs? He told Susan that he was frustrated because no one has official been blamed for her death.

Police had floated a couple of names to Gary but he said he didn’t recognize them and that Bonnie had made friends in the past few years or so of her life and he didn’t know them. He did stress that she would not have gotten in to the vehicle with someone unknown to her.

Bonnie was cremated and a memorial ceremony held for her on Saturday, June 26, 2010.

All her children are grown adults now and Gary said she would be very proud of them. If she were still alive, she would be a grandmother now. Her children were her treasures. They missed out on having her there for their graduations’, weddings, to celebrate career successes and the birth of her first grand child.

People please come forward, you are not helping the police, you are helping Bonnie and her family.

If you have any information pertaining to the events leading up to Bonnie’s fatal injury on May 24th, 2010, can say who her known associates were and identify any person in that vehicle, as well as locate the vehicle, anything at all that could bring closure to Bonnie’s case for the sake of her family, please contact the Major Crime Unit of the Hamilton Police at 905-546-3829.

Or, if you wish to remain anonymous, you can provide your tip to crime stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online by visiting crimestoppershamilton.com

This brings use to the end of Bonnie Tatti’s story.

I am publishing my very first episode on the Canadian Correctional System on Patreon and research is underway on the second Patreon episode which will cover the very last 2 people executed in Canada before Capital Punishment was abolished. If you want to listen to exclusive episodes, add free and early release episodes head over to patreon.com, there are several different options ranging from armchair detective to co-producer. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=27999414

I would also like to thank all of those of you who have taken the time to leave me a positive review, I really appreciate all of the support.

Sources:

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-opioids
https://www.healthline.com/health/opiate-withdrawal
https://www.guidetopharmacology.org/GRAC/FamilyDisplayForward?familyId=50
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids
https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9392019-susan-clairmont-after-nine-years-bonnie-tatti-s-homicide-remains-unsolved/
https://hamiltonpolice.on.ca/news/bonnie-tatti/
https://www.dignitymemorial.com › obituaries › bonnie-tatti-4290180

Archived Newspaper Articles: The Hamilton Spectator = May 2010 & June 2010
Site Visit Audio: Original to Podcast

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