Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Domestic killings in spotlight

At least four in province this year; latest on Saturday

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At least four Manitoba women have been killed so far this year in what police are calling domestic homicides.

The latest, believed to be a murder-suicide, was discovered Saturday morning in a suite in an otherwise-quiet apartment block in the Maples.

Police say a 32-year-old man stabbed his 28-year-old wife or common-law partner and then killed himself. Police are not releasing the names of the two pending notification of next of kin.

At about 10:50 a.m. Saturday, police were called to the large apartment block at 1245 Jefferson Ave. to check on the well-being of one of the residents. Inside the second-floor suite, officers discovered the two bodies. The woman had sustained stab wounds to her upper body and the man died of self-inflicted wounds to his upper body.

Police spokeswoman Const. Natalie Aitken said the suite was secure and there was no sign of forced entry. Autopsies will confirm when the violence occurred, but Aitken said it likely happened sometime Friday or Saturday.

Police are treating the incident as a domestic-related homicide and no charges are pending.

"This is a very tragic incident," said Aitken.

But domestic-violence experts say spousal homicides are all too common.

Since the early 1990s, the rate of domestic homicide has declined. But the steady drop has levelled off since 2006. Since then, there have been nearly 90 "intimate-partner homicides" every year in Canada; the vast majority of the victims are women.

At least two of Manitoba's most recent victims were aboriginal, but Nikki Trimble, provincial co-ordinator of the Manitoba Association of Women's Shelters, said domestic violence is a severe but often silent problem across all demographics.

"It doesn't respect culture. It doesn't respect money," she said.

Trimble said in most cases, a homicide is the culmination of a pattern of chronic violence. But she said violence becomes an almost accepted way of life for women in abusive relationships, who may not believe their partner would ever go so far as to commit murder.

University of Manitoba sociology Prof. Jane Ursel, who heads up a domestic-violence research network, said there may be some hope.

The province recently established a "death review committee" tasked with looking at all domestic killings to determine what services might have saved a victim and what changes could be made to prevent future deaths. Similar death review committees, including one in Ontario, have made helpful changes.

Over the weekend, the news that two bodies had been found in the quiet building, known for its large number of senior residents, stunned many.

"There is no danger here whatsoever," said Maria Silva, who has lived in the building for eight years. "I don't see kids hanging around here or anything to make you suspect that something is going on. I'm very shocked, a bit scared."

Several people said the couple had only recently moved into the building.

The woman's death is the seventh homicide in Winnipeg so far this year.


Violence in the home leads to tragedies

Four Manitoba women have died so far this year in what police allege are domestic homicides.

Unnamed 28-year-old

The woman, whose name has not yet been released, was found stabbed to death Saturday in an apartment in the Maples. Police believe her spouse, who committed suicide, was responsible for her death.

Leanne McLean

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old mother of two was found dead in a home on Dauphin River First Nation. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be blunt-force trauma.

On Sunday, RCMP announced they had charged 23-year-old Aaron Charles Anderson of Dauphin River First Nation with second-degree murder. Anderson and McLean were in a relationship.

Belinda McKay

On March 9, the Cross Lake mother of two was found stabbed in her apartment on Edmonton Street opposite Central Park.

Her common-law partner, Lenny John Keam, 27, has been charged with her death.

McKay's son was home at the time of her death.

Alche Fsehaye Kidane

In late January, the Eritrean woman was stabbed to death in her Assiniboine Avenue apartment. Kidane had only just arrived in Winnipeg last summer.

Kidane's 32-year-old husband, Teklu Tesfamichael Mebrahtu, is facing charges of second-degree murder.

Family-related homicides

Between 2000 and 2009, Manitoba had the second-highest rate of spousal homicides in Canada. Manitoba's death rate was 10 spousal homicides per one million people. Saskatchewan's rate was slightly higher. The national average was 4.9 deaths per one million people.

-- source: Statistics Canada

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2012 A3

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