Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman stabbed to death, boyfriend charged

Evening of socializing ends in tragedy at St. Vital home

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It began with an evening of friendly socializing. It ended with an argument, a stabbing and a frantic rush to the hospital.

Now a Winnipeg woman is dead, her boyfriend is in jail facing charges and a group of loved ones are left mourning their loss.

Beverly Custer, 34, has been identified as the city's latest homicide victim.

"You were the sweetest, most caring girl I've ever met. I'm going to miss seeing you and your beautiful smile," her friend, Jodie Thomas, wrote in an online tribute. Several others echoed those sentiments Thursday on Custer's Facebook page.

Police say Custer suffered a single, fatal wound to her upper body while inside a home in the 100 block of Barrington Avenue in St. Vital early Wednesday morning.

Keith Alexander Wallace, 28, is charged with manslaughter. The charge implies an unintentional killing.

Police say Custer and Wallace allegedly got into a dispute that turned violent. Following the assault, Wallace allegedly got a friend who was also inside the home at the time to drive him and Custer to Victoria Hospital.

"She was taken to the hospital within minutes," Const. Eric Hofley, a spokesman for Winnipeg police, said Thursday. "This had just occurred, then realizing what's transpired, the natural reaction would be to get that victim to the hospital."

Attempts to save Custer's life were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead. Police were summoned to the hospital, where Wallace had waited around. He was arrested without incident.

Hofley said it appears alcohol was involved as the couple and other friends had been "socializing" in the hours preceding the incident. He said police have no prior history of incidents between the pair, but conceded Wallace "is known to us."

Court records obtained by the Free Press show Wallace was arrested by police in April 2012 on a charge of uttering threats. That incident is not domestic in nature. Wallace was released on a promise to appear in court.

Wallace was re-arrested in April 2013 on an alleged bail breach, but was again released by police without having to undergo a bail hearing. He was nabbed a third time, in September 2013, for allegedly failing to appear in court months earlier. Once again, police released him on a promise to appear.

All of these charges have yet to be proven and remain before the courts, with a hearing date set for July 22. In court documents, Wallace is described as unemployed and listed two different addresses on Harrowby Avenue and Sargent Avenue.

Police said Thursday Wallace was living with Custer, his girlfriend, at the Barrington Avenue residence where the stabbing occurred.

Wallace was also the subject of a protection order application in April 2012. A former partner, who is the mother of his child, claimed she was living in fear of Wallace in an affidavit filed in Court of Queen's Bench.

The woman claimed Wallace continued to text and phone her despite her requests to stop. She stated she was concerned about his access to weapons and "homemade guns and knives" and that he'd threatened her in the past.

"Since 2005, (his) behaviour has been up and down. There were times during our two-year relationship when I was mentally, emotionally/verbally abused," she wrote. "After our relationship we tried to remain friends for our kids but (his) behaviour continues to be unstable. I've given (him) more than enough chances to be a part of mine and our children's lives and get help with his anger and mental instability."

The woman's application was rejected by a magistrate, and no order was issued against Wallace.

Wallace is being held without bail at the Remand Centre.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 11, 2014 B2

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