June 10, 2020 Update via CBC: B.C. RCMP say they received no reports of domestic violence before Jennifer Quesnel was murdered by her estranged husband on June 1st, contradicting claims from her family.
On Monday, June 1, 2020, every woman’s worst nightmare came true for Jennifer Quesnel. Her estranged husband, John Quesnel, shot and killed her with a gun he bought the same day from a friend on Salt Spring Island.
The Quesnel’s 18-year marriage ended in a brutal act of selfishness and stupidity that orphaned the couple’s three young boys: Jake, Dan and John Jr.
Can You Help?
If you can help the three motherless boys with a donation, a GoFundMe was created by Jennifer’s friend, Stephanie Portingale, to build a trust fund for the boys. As of today, June 9th, it’s already raised over $109,000 for Jake, Dan and John Jr.
Jennifer Quesnel recently made a long-overdue decision to leave her abusive husband. That, says Kisae Petersen of Islanders Working Against Violence, is the most dangerous time for any woman leaving an abusive relationship.
“We know that this is the riskiest time for women, for their safety, and that violence can escalate significantly in a period of leaving,” Petersen said.
“We have to understand that violence in relationships is 100 per cent about power and control,” says Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services.
“When a woman leaves an abusive relationship she is taking back power in a very profound way – and the ultimate expression of power and control is lethal violence.”
A Fatal Timeline
About a month before her murder, Jennifer and John began talking about getting a divorce.
Three weeks before her murder, Jennifer kicked her husband out of the house. He went to live on another property in the island.
A week prior to her murder, Jennifer left Salt Spring Island to stay with her brother in Sidney, a suburb of Victoria, B.C., and John returned to live in the family home.
Then, on June 1st, she returned home to grab some of her belongings and feed her Arabian horse.
She originally arranged for an RCMP escort to the property, but changed her mind and took a friend instead. She felt safe returning because she knew John Quesnel’s previously-owned guns were seized by police, although none of the news stories explain why or say when the firearm seizures took place.
Despite an agreement John would leave the family home for 24 hours so Jennifer could retrieve her belongings, he lurked in the woods waiting to ambush his estranged wife when she arrived.
When she did, John shot her twice and then killed himself.
Jennifer’s friend was physically unharmed but the psychological effect of watching her friend be murdered in front of her will last the rest of her life.
“Unknown to Jennifer, John had parked in a secluded area nearby and hid himself from view, armed,” a family statement said.
“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 premeditated way. She had finally made the choice to leave and it was the happiest she had ever been, being away from him.”
While his verbally abusive nature was well known to friends and family members, they never believed John Quesnel was capable of murdering his wife in cold blood.
While some blame the COVID-19 pandemic, at least in part, for this terrible tragedy, the couple’s 17-year-old son John Jr. doesn’t.
“She was leaving him – that’s what it comes down to. He couldn’t handle it,” he said.
So a man jealous of his wife’s happiness ended her life, then – like a true coward – he took his own.
Once again, I plead for anyone thinking of killing their spouse and then themselves, please start your killing spree with the last name on the list – yours. It will save the rest of us unimaginable grief and anguish.
A Terrifying Realization
The uncomfortable reality is Jennifer Quesnel’s murder probably could not be prevented because every reasonable precaution had already been taken.
- Police already confiscated John Quesnel’s guns. They likely prohibited him from possessing firearms as well.
- Jennifer felt safe going to the farm with a friend, not a police escort, because she knew his guns were confiscated by police.
- Even with an RCMP escort, a constable could not stop John from shooting his wife and then himself. He sat in the woods, out of sight, waiting to ambush Jennifer when she arrived. The only difference a police escort would make is an RCMP constable, not Jennifer’s friend, would witness her senseless murder.
- John purchased the murder weapon “from a friend” the same day he killed his wife.
- Unless police checked on and searched John Quesnel when his wife arrived on Salt Spring Island they could not have stopped him from obtaining a firearm.
The Salt Spring Islander who sold him the gun is probably in serious legal trouble if John Quesnel was prohibited from possessing firearms – something we do not know yet.
Even if the friend is not charged with a criminal offence in connection with Jennifer’s murder, I suspect it will be a very long time before he has a decent night’s sleep.
The only thing police could possibly have done differently was find John Quesnel when his wife arrived on the island and stayed with him until she left – something the circumstances simply didn’t warrant.
My heart and prayers go out to the entire family, but especially to Jennifer’s three sons Jake, Dan and John Jr. If you can help the three motherless boys with a donation, please do so on the GoFundMe page set up for them.
I’ll update this story as more details become available.