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TV series and podcast to explore 'What Happened to Holly Bartlett'

It's been nine years since the Holly Bartlett died after being found unconscious under the MacKay Bridge
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It's been nine years since the Holly Bartlett died after being found unconscious under the MacKay Bridge.

On the evening of Friday, March 26, the blind Dalhousie grad student went out with some friends to celebrate the end of the school year at the campus's University Club.

"She was just about to finish her Masters studies in Public Administration," said journalist Maggie Rahr. "She was out, she had some drinks, got in a taxi and went home. Her friends watched her get in a taxi."

Police believe Bartlett arrived at her north end condo around midnight. Early the next morning, the 31-year-old was discovered by construction workers in a fenced in area under the Halifax side of the bridge.

She died in hospital the following day.

Rahr is part of a team of researchers exploring what happened to Bartlett that night. Their investigation will be detailed in both a TV series and podcast.

"The police theory is, when she got to the front door of her condo, she somehow became disoriented, walked all the way down the driveway, took a right onto North Ridge Rd. ... gets behind an apartment building at Kentcrest [Ave.], scrambles down this steep hill, crawls through a hole in the fence -- this was a locked compound area -- climbs up this massive concrete wedge and falls 22 feet to the frozen earth," Rahr told NEWS 95.7's The Sheldon MacLeod Show.

"Police discovered when they found her, her CNIB card. Holly was blind and they stuck with the theory that she was drunk and that her blindness would justify this very strange path that she took. The case was never considered criminal and the police file was closed within 72-hours."

Bartlett's family contacted Halifax Regional Police's chief of police to express concerns with the investigation.

In 2014, an independent review was conducted by the Service de police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ) into HRP's handling of the case.

"The report was a bureaucratic review basically, it's called an operational review, so it's in [the SPVQ] mandate that their role was never to reclassify the manner of death or change the outcome of the investigation," Rahr explained. "It really was a damning report but because of the format, they basically had to uphold the police's findings."

"They laid out all of these failures to accurately investigate in that very crucial first window of 48 to 72 hours."

Both the TV show and podcast are six episodes long and Rahr said the two platforms will allow Holly's story to reach a wider audience.

She said through Bartlett's family, the team of researchers had access to a lot of information for their investigation as they explored various theories of what may have happened to Holly.

"We had access to so much ... we had almost all of the police reports, we had the autopsy report, the medical examiner's notes, and with the sign-off and consent of the Bartlett family, we were also able to get the medical files from Holly's time in hospital when they were trying to keep her alive."

"This case is a web and there are many, many strands. We hit the ground running, tried to follow every single lead and we do believe we have new evidence," said Rahr.

What Happened to Holly Bartlett will debut Thursday March 28, at 10 p.m. on AMI-tv (Accessible Media Inc.). Episodes will also be found on AMI.ca or via the free AMI-tv App.

The What Happened to Holly Bartlett podcast will be available on Apple iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher and other podcast catchers immediately following each new TV episode.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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