MONTREAL — Police officers who showed up at an east-end Montreal home Wednesday morning to break the news of a family member’s death instead discovered the bodies of a 42 year-old-woman and her two young sons, ages two and four.
Authorities went to the residence, located on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Pointe-aux-Trembles district, at around 8 a.m. to inform the family about the death of the boys’ father, who died by suicide Tuesday in Joliette, north of Montreal.
When there was no answer, they found the door unlocked and entered to discover the woman and her boys, all of whom were declared dead at the scene, a Montreal police spokesman said.
A heavy presence of police and emergency vehicles could be seen outside the modest two-storey brick townhouse, which was blocked off by orange police tape.
Const. Manuel Couture said the house was being treated as a crime scene. The deaths were considered “suspicious” but had not been ruled homicides as of early Wednesday afternoon. He said forensic investigators and technicians were expected at the scene over the course of the afternoon, while the police major crimes unit began probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
“Right now the investigators are looking for links, exactly when the death of all those people (happened),” Couture told reporters at the scene.
The townhouse is listed in municipal records as belonging to Nabil Yssaad and Dahia Khellaf, who were registered as owners in April 2018.
Court documents involving two people with the same names show that Yssaad, 46, was charged in August 2018 with assault with a weapon against Khellaf. He was acquitted last week after signing an agreement not to contact her and to stay away from her home and workplace, except for court-approved visitation.
On Wednesday, two neighbours told reporters at the scene that it wasn’t the first time law enforcement had been called to the home.
One of them, Abdelaziz Abdelhak, said he’d seen police cars outside the residence “two or three times” previously. He described the father as an unsociable person who didn’t like being asked questions.
“It’s someone you can’t talk to. He refuses conversation,” said Abdelhak, who lives a few doors down. ”He doesn’t say hello, he doesn’t want us to say hello to him.”
Yann Kedja, a 19-year-old neighbour, said he believes the family had been living at the address for about two years. He never met the father but would see the children playing outside in the summer.
“I saw the kids outside having fun and playing, and the mother was there having fun with them,” he said, calling the deaths a ”horrible tragedy.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2019.
— With files from Sidhartha Banerjee
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press