Estranged wife, friend stabbed while picking up belongings, say police

Sanjula Devi and Fahmida Velji-Visram are named as the two Calgary women stabbed to death Sunday night.

2 victims identified as 2nd-degree murder charges pending

Sanjula Devi, left, and Fahmida Velji-Visram were stabbed to death Sunday night when the pair went to the home of Devi's estranged husband to pick up some of her belongings, police said. (Facebook)

Sanjula Devi and Fahmida Velji-Visram have been named as the two Calgary women stabbed to death Sunday night.

Devi was found dead in the doorway of a southeast Calgary home while Velji-Visram had run out onto the lawn screaming and covered in blood, according to neighbours.

Velji-Visram, 29, collapsed and was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Devi, 36, was the estranged wife of the suspect, police said, and had gone with her friend to the southeast Calgary home to collect her belongings. 

The friend's husband, Rahim Visramsaid when he got the call he didn’t believe it was really his wife who had been killed — even when he had to go and identify her body.

A 'nightmare'

This is worst nightmare I've ever had, and the alarm hasn't gone off yet.- Rahim Visram, husband of victim

“There's no way that you can describe it. I felt at that point when I sat down and took a deep breath, you know, my alarm is going to go off, and I'm going to wake up," Visram said. "This is worst nightmare I've ever had, and the alarm hasn't gone off yet.”

Visram said his wife was a great person who was always there to help her friends and family.

Rahim Visram, stabbing victim Fahmida Velji-Visram's husband, says he's just trying to focus on the good his wife has done. (Courtesy Rahim Visram)

“There's still, you know, a part of me says I should have gone with her, but I have to accept what has happened in the past. There's no time machine; there's nothing that lets us go back.”

The couple would have celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary next month. Visram said he doesn't want to know what happened inside the apartment.

“The dispute between the husband and wife can always be resolved by talking," he said. "There's never a need for violence. I don't see a need for violence in that situation.

“My heart goes out to the other victim's families and her having a little one — that even hurts even more.”

Devi's identity was released Tuesday afternoon, while Velji-Visram was named by police Monday. Autopsies on both women concluded they died as a result of stabbing. 

Charges pending

The suspect, who was arrested a short distance from the scene of the stabbings, is in hospital suffering from self-inflicted injuries. Investigators are waiting to interview the man, who they believe had ingested an unknown substance. 

He is expected to be charged with two counts of second-degree murder and aggravated assault, police said.

Two women were killed and third was injured in a stabbing attack in southeast Calgary on Sunday evening. Police are waiting to speak to a male suspect, who is being treated in hospital for self-inflicted wounds. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

A third woman — who neighbours say is the landlord, or the daughter of the landlord — was also injured after going to the basement suite to investigate the disturbance. She was taken to hospital, but was later released. 

Neighbour EbenezerChoebefu said he knew the family well and described them as friendly people.

Samantha Racette, who lives next door to the complex, laid a bouquet of flowers to start a small memorial.

"She [Devi] was quiet, she was timid, very polite, [her daughter] was always very polite, the man himself was polite," said Racette.

"I find it surprising given the gentleman himself was very timid."

Domestic abuse help available

Calgary police had been called to the Penbrooke home where the two women were killed before after a domestic argument on April 9, but no charges were laid.

Elsbeth Mehrer, with the Calgary YWCA, says help is available for women trying to leave a relationship and there are some agencies that can help women assess their situation.

"That way they have some real third party view of how dangerous this relationship could be [and] what is the risk that it's going to turn lethal," she said. 

"And then to make sure they are accessing the right supports, including the Calgary Police Service which is tremendously supportive."

 Mehrer says the end of a relationship is usually a higher risk period. 

Knife a 'weapon of choice'

In April, five young Calgarians were stabbed to death while at a gathering to celebrate the end of post-secondary classes in the city. 

Staff Sgt. Doug Andrus said it seems that knives are becoming the "weapon of choice" in Calgary.

"I can tell you that knives are easily obtainable and they're not illegal unless they're concealed," he said. 

"As a result it seems to be a weapon of choice when we have these deadly confrontations."

Out of the 13 homicides in Calgary so far this year, nine deaths were the result of stabbing. The cause of death in the four other cases have not been released.