Community shocked by murder-suicide

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Salt Spring community members are still struggling to cope with the deaths of John and Jennifer Quesnel in a murder-suicide committed by John last Monday.

While the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit and the B.C. Coroners Service have not finished their investigations, police say there are no suspects, no expected charges and no community threat. Witness testimony from someone who was there combined with the evidence on scene has led no doubt as to what occurred, according to RCMP media spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau.

The event has shocked the community where both John and Jennifer grew up. John Quesnel was a colourful and at times larger-than-life character who was well known for his Salt Spring Metal Recycling business and his frequents bouts with the Islands Trust over zoning violations. Jennifer had a lifelong passion for horses and was a well-loved member of the Arabian horse riding community.

RCMP have now confirmed that Jennifer, 41 and John, 48, were killed by a firearm. When police and paramedics arrived at around 5 p.m. John was dead. Jennifer died while being transferred to hospital. Police say the boys were not home when the incident took place. They are safe and being cared for by family members.

A statement from the family explains that Jennifer had recently left her marriage after 18 years. 

She had been staying with her brother Glenn Hamilton in Sidney for the two weeks prior to her death and had returned to the property that day to pick up some belongings and care for her horse.

“There was a pre-arrangement that John would not be on the property during that timeframe. Jennifer had also spoken to the RCMP about an escort to the property but later felt he wouldn’t be a threat. Additionally, she was re-assured by the fact that all his firearms had previously been confiscated and his vehicle was not in the driveway,” the family said. 

No one, including his closest friends and family members, realized John’s state of mind. Although some stated he was often verbally abusive and controlling, they did not imagine he could be a lethal threat.

“Jennifer was taken from us and her three boys during a time of renewed hope and possibilities and was excited for what her future held,” her family members stated. “She was a gentle and loving mother, friend, daughter and sister to everyone who knew her. She was everything that was good about people.” 

A trust fund has been set up to help care for the Quesnels’ sons, John Jr., 17, Dan, almost 16, and Jake, 12. People can contribute to the GoFund Me campaign called Jennifer Quesnel – Children’s Fundraiser or contact theonlysteph@gmail.com to donate through e-transfer.

As of Monday the GoFundMe campaign had exceeded the $75,000 goal and had topped $107,000.

“Jennifer’s family and loved ones would like to publicly extend their heartfelt thanks to the incredible community of Salt Spring Island and beyond for their outpouring of love and support. We are truly so humbled by your generosity,” a message on the campaign website states.

See the June 10 issue of the Driftwood for more on this story.

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