Blair Evan Donnelly, the Kitimat resident who fatally stabbed his 16-year-old daughter 17 years ago, has been identified as the suspect behind the recent stabbings at a Vancouver Chinatown celebration Sept. 10.
The 64-year-old former Kitimat resident has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault that left a couple in their 60s and a woman in her 20s with severe but non-life-threatening injuries.
Donnelly had been on release for the day from a forensic psychiatric hospital, where authorities had detained him for the death of his daughter, Stephanie Joy Donnelly.
Police are still investigating a motive for the Chinatown stabbings. All three victims were ethnically Asian. The attacks, executed during a celebration designed to raise Chinatown’s profile and community pride, have shaken residents already reeling from a spike in hate crimes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer stressed there was still no indication of motive for a crime that “defies logical explanation.”
In 2006, according to court documents, Donnelly was a devoutly religious man who believed he was acting on God’s instruction to harm his family. The absence of defensive wounds suggests his daughter was caught off guard in the family living room when she was stabbed several times in the chest and neck. She died almost immediately.
Two psychiatrists concurred that Donnelly was suffering from bipolar mood disorder that put him in a hypomanic state at the time of the killing.
A Supreme Court judge, who found Donnelly not criminally responsible, was satisfied the father understood his actions would result in his daughter’s death, but that he didn’t understand it was wrong. Consequently, he was institutionalized in Port Coquitlam in January, 2008.
Just one year later Donnelly qualified for unsupervised community visits, during which he stabbed a friend and was later found criminally responsible.
As police continue their investigation into the Chinatown stabbings, B.C. Premier David Eby is demanding to know why someone with Donnelly’s history was on the street in the first place. He said the review board report, which was leaked to the media, clearly concluded the man posed a significant risk and shouldn’t be let out.
The report revealed Donnelly attacked a fellow patient at the hospital in 2017 with a butter knife and was found not criminally responsible for the assault.
The report also said Donnelly required “significant supervision to ensure he does not cause further harm to the public.”
However, last April the review board decided that “reintegration” of Donnelly “could reasonably occur” within eight months of the decision.
“I am white-hot angry,” Eby said. “This person was released unaccompanied into the community to have a devastating impact on all the hard work of all of these community members. I cannot fathom how someone who murdered his daughter was released in 2009, then stabbed somebody else, would then be released again unaccompanied, somehow able to go buy a knife, go to Chinatown and stab three people.”
Eby promised his government will launch an independent review, led by former Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich, to get to the bottom of why someone with Donnelly’s history was given day parole.
He added Rich will have the opportunity to look at why the public didn’t have the information about the review board’s case, which he said is also troubling.
— With files from Wolf Depner and The Canadian Press