Montreal community searches for answers in wake of child killings
MONTREAL - A group of people—neighbors, friends and outreach workers—gathered on Friday outside the home where two children died, murdered by their father, earlier this week.
They held candles and placed stuffed animals on the front steps of the small home in Tetreaultville. A pile of them overflowed down the house’s front steps and onto the lawn.
The crowd was mostly silent; they said a prayer, and some left messages on the porch.
“There is no explanation and there never will be,” one reads. “Rest in peace little angels.”
They are messages from a community struggling to understand a tragedy in their midst: a house like any others; a family that appeared normal, happy even.
A pumpkin sat outside the front door, Alexandra Rousseau, a neighbour, watched the family decorate it, saw the children, 5-year-old Elise and 7-year-old Hugo, playing outside.
But after Tuesday evening, when the children’s mother returned home to find them dead, Rousseau was saddened and confused; everyone was.
"We didn't see what happened inside the house, we only saw the other side," she said. "[The father] brought all the answers with him, there's no way for us to know the real situation inside that house."
She came Friday to show their mother she isn’t alone.
"I can't imagine what she would have--the feeling inside her,” she said. “I don’t have words.”
Police cars flooded the street earlier this week. Officers found “signs of violence” on the children. Upstairs, their 40-year-old father was dead by suicide, according to a police source. The scene was so horrifying that responding officers were offered counselling.
The children’s parents were in the early stages of separating. Montreal police suspect the father killed his two children before taking his own life.
Friday’s vigil was organized in part by Info-femmes, a group that helps support women who have been abused. Linda Basque, a worker with the organization, thought it was important for the community to grieve together.
"This tragedy sent shockwaves through the people of the neighbourhood," she said. "We've been receiving calls and we thought it would be an opportunity for people to get together--to not feel so alone."
Women are reaching out to her group, she said. They’re worried they, or someone close to them, might be in a similar situation. She urged them to seek help if they see warning signs--if a relationship is violent or abusive; if a partner is manipulative or enraged.
"There's no answers,” Basque said. “Though we do know this is conjugal violence: this is a man who's losing control, losing his wife and did the ultimate act of taking control.”
Women in need of support can contact Women Aware at (514) 489-1110 or (1-866-489-1110)
Info-femmes can be reached at (514) 355-4529
Or they can find more resources here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available:
Suicide Action Montreal (1-866-277-3553)
Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)
Centre for Suicide Prevention (1-833-456-4566)
Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)
If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.