News & Events
When men kill their partners, warning signs often missed
Last week, a relative of Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji sat silently in a north Toronto courtroom, watching as Dr. Mohammed Shamji appeared on a charge of first-degree murder. Pinned to her jacket was a purple ribbon to honour victims of domestic violence.
One day later, in a downtown Toronto court, Lascelles Allen chose to go to trial to face a first-degree murder charge in the violent death of his ex-girlfriend, Suraiya Gangaram.
The victims in both killings led different lives: Gangaram, 31, a Trinidadian immigrant, was a single mom living in Toronto community housing on Danzig St. Fric-Shamji, 40, from a Croatian family based in Windsor, was a married mother and family physician living in a million-dollar North York home.
But the women shared tragic commonalities. Both are alleged to have been killed by their intimate partners — men they were leaving, and who faced previous criminal charges for threatening or harming them.
Gangaram's and Fric-Shamji's cases highlight what researchers, police and those in the criminal justice system know too well: that while intimate partner homicide crosses socio-economic, religious, age and cultural lines, the deaths usually fit a well-worn template.
The relationship is over, or ending. There is a history of abuse in the relationship. There were threats of violence.
One year before Gangaram's death, Allen was accused of assaulting and threatening her, charges that were stayed after he was arrested in her murder. In Fric-Shamji's case, her husband was charged with uttering threats and assaulting her in 2005; two months later, Shamji signed a peace bond and the charges were withdrawn.
Gangaram and Allen had been in an on-again, off-again relationship. According to friends, Fric-Shamji had just filed for divorce from her husband of 12 years.