Axe wielding assailant invades Riverdale home

At 1:45 Tuesday morning, Ken House looked out his bedroom window and noticed something strange. Someone had attached a yellow rope to his neighbour's doorknob and tied it to the side-view mirror of a van parked out front. House knew the doors in his Riverdale housing complex opened inwards.

At 1:45 Tuesday morning, Ken House looked out his bedroom window and noticed something strange.

Someone had attached a yellow rope to his neighbour’s doorknob and tied it to the side-view mirror of a van parked out front.

House knew the doors in his Riverdale housing complex opened inwards.

Fearing his neighbour and her children were in danger, he went outside to investigate.

As he approached the front of his neighbour’s van he heard a crash. The back door of her townhouse was being kicked in.

Then, he heard screaming.

Using a knife, he cut the rope between the van and the front door and started banging on it. He yelled to his neighbour that she and her children could escape out the front door.

“He has a gun,” House heard her say.

So he pulled out a cellphone and called the RCMP.

House had a strong suspicion that the intruder was his neighbour’s ex-boyfriend.

Early on Monday morning, her ex had shown up at the house and threatened to hang himself from a tree outside her place.

He was taken to the hospital. But the manager of the complex was still worried, and asked House, who is a former military officer, to take footage of the area. House set up a video camera and directed it at her apartment.

After House called the cops, it took seven minutes for them to arrive at the townhouse.

But it took more than an hour for police to storm the back door with shotguns and take the man into custody, according to House.

During that hour, “the assailant terrorized the woman … and her three children with an axe,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The assailant was overheard telling the police he had a 12-gauge shotgun and a .308 and .303 rifle.

But a search of the residence after the attack found only an axe, said House.

Once the man was taken into custody, the neighbour’s children were sent to the manager’s residence to calm down.

That’s where Katherine Worsley, House’s partner and a trained nurse, looked after the children.

“They were all in shock,” she said, explaining that the eldest is only 10 years old.

Even before the incident, the boy had taken to carrying a knife to protect his mother, she said.

“The younger kids won’t even go near the complex now. They’re scared stiff.”

What is most chilling to House and Worsley is that the incident could have been prevented.

“This guy was out of the hospital less than 12 hours after he went in,” said House.

The hospital and the RCMP should have been keeping a better watch on him, he said.

At the hospital, the man was kept in one of the psychiatric beds.

But he shouldn’t have been released so soon, said House.

“It’s up to the physician to discharge a patient if they think they’re safe,” said Val Pike, communications liaison for the Whitehorse Hospital.

“We can’t hold people here indefinitely.”

But Pike couldn’t speak specifically to the incident on March 15th, when the man was brought to hospital.

It’s not clear whether the man was taken to the hospital voluntarily and how and if he was properly discharged.

The Whitehorse hospital doesn’t have a specific unit dedicated to psychiatric patients.

House questions why more wasn’t done to protect his neighbour.

“(The assailant) has been stalking her for quite some time,” he said.

His neighbour had also put a restraining order on her ex-boyfriend and adds that he had just gotten out of jail.

“The courts have to get heavier on sentencing and monitoring these people,” he said.

“When someone has a restraining order, why aren’t they wearing ankle bracelets (that are attached to perimeter alarms)?

“That way, if they get too close, the Mounties can get to the scene in time.”

The Whitehorse police didn’t issue a release about the incident because the axe-wielding assailant may be suffering from “mental instability,” said RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers.

“We don’t intend to put a release out there because no one was hurt.

“There have been charges laid, though.”

The chilling event raises issues about domestic violence, said Worsley.

“Violence against women needs to stop,” she said.

“The system doesn’t adequately punish men that beat up women.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read