A gentle and loving mother, friend, daughter and sister is how many are remembering Jennifer Quesnel, a Salt Spring Island woman who died earlier this week in what the family has confirmed to be a murder-suicide that has shaken the surrounding community.
“Jennifer was taken from us, and her boys, during a time of hope for her,” a family friend wrote in a GoFundMe fundraising page launched Friday (June 5). “She had new dreams and aspirations and felt positive about her future.”
According to police, officers arrived to a home on Fulford-Ganges Road just before 5 p.m. on Monday. There, officers found a 48-year-old man inside, who family and friends have confirmed to be Quesnel’s husband. Quesnel, 41, was also found suffering from serious injuries, and died a short time later.
Quesnel’s family said in a statement released to the media that she had recently left an 18-year-marriage with a clear history of controlling and abusive behaviour by her husband. On Monday, she had returned to the property to grab belongings and visit her horse under the impression he wouldn’t be at the property.
“Unknown to Jennifer, John had parked in a secluded area nearby and hid himself from view, armed. He ambushed her without warning, shooting her twice and then turning the gun on himself,” the family alleges in a written statement.
“He couldn’t stand to see her happy and if he couldn’t be happy, neither could she. It was a selfish act by a coward and bully and committed in the most cruel and pre-meditated way.”
Police have not identified the man or woman involved in the incident, but have said no charges will be laid. Another person, who neither police or the family identified out of respect for their privacy, was present at the time of the incident.
The B.C. woman leaves behind three sons, Jake, Dan and John Jr. All money raised through the GoFundMe campaign will be used to support Quesnel’s children “as they work through both the emotional and financial strains of losing both of their parents.”
More than $77,000 had been raised as of Saturday morning.
“As we all try to wade through this senseless and life-altering loss, Jennifer’s family and loved ones would like to encourage you to help keep her memory alive by remembering her kind and loving spirit,” the fundraising page reads.
The tragedy comes as advocates have spent months voicing concerns that there has been a spike in domestic and gender-based violence as pandemic restrictions force many to stay home alongside their abusers.
“She was trying to leave an abusive marriage and was killed when she sought her freedom,” Islanders Working Against Violence said in a statement. “This is the riskiest time for a women’s safety and often when the violence can escalate.”
Quesnel will be remembered as someone who “was everything that was good about people,” her family said.
“We’re so thankful that she had that time away from him, to realize what life could be like and to see her that happy. She was the most beautiful person you would ever meet. So full of life.”
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. You can also contact the following:
VictimLink BC is a 24-7 hotline available in 150 different languages which provides immediate crisis suppoert and referral services for victims of crime and family or sexual violence. Call 1-800-563-0808, text 604-836-6381 or email VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.
For more information, visit endingviolence.org/need-help.
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