'This is tragic,' Winnipeg police say of Camille Runke's death
Kevin Runke, victim's estranged husband, found dead inside vehicle near St. Malo
Kevin Runke, the estranged husband of Camille Runke who is suspected of killing her, was found dead at a rural property south of Winnipeg, police confirm.
The 46-year-old shot himself after police tried to stop his vehicle near St. Malo, Man., on Monday, Deputy Chief Danny Smyth told reporters.
Police had been looking for Runke because they wanted to speak to him about Camille Runke's death, Smyth said.
Kevin Runke's body was found inside a vehicle where he'd driven off the road near St. Malo, a community about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg near Highway 59.
"In light of the circumstances, Kevin Runke is the suspect in the murder of Camille Runke," Smyth said Tuesday.
"But I want to be clear: investigators did not have grounds to arrest Runke for the homicide prior to encountering him in the St. Malo area."
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In the days after Camille Runke's death, investigators tried unsuccessfully to find Kevin Runke, who was considered at the time to be a person of interest, Smyth said.
On Monday, homicide investigators were in the St. Malo area when they spotted a vehicle that was associated with Kevin Runke at around 11 a.m., Smyth said.
"The investigators did not pursue or engage with the vehicle or the occupant. They held their position a safe distance away and called for backup."
Winnipeg police and RCMP officers swarmed a property on Lambert Street, blocking off adjacent roads as well.
At the time, police spokespeople offered little information, only saying the scene was associated with a Winnipeg Police Service investigation.
In the afternoon, a heavily armed tactical unit arrived with rifles drawn.
Despite that, police said there was no standoff nor any threat to the public.
Smyth said after officers secured the scene, they found Kevin Runke dead inside the vehicle. There was no one else inside the vehicle, he added.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates all serious incidents involving police officers in the province, confirms that it is investigating Monday's incident in St. Malo. It has asked for a civilian monitor from the Manitoba Police Commission, the IIU said in a news release.
Victim complained about 22 incidents
Smyth said Winnipeg police had contact with both Camille and Kevin Runke during the time between their separation in June and Camille's death on Friday.
"Investigators assigned to our East District and domestic unit had engaged with Camille on 22 separate occasions, where she had reported incidents ranging from property damage to harassment in the time period between July and October of this year," Smyth said.
"Later in the month, he was charged by police for mischief. This occurred on July 24, where he is alleged to have damaged property associated to Camille Runke's residence."
Kevin Runke was also charged on Oct. 23 — a week before Camille Runke was found dead — with breaching the conditions of a protection order by not reporting a change of address.
That same day, Runke was cautioned about his alleged contact with Camille between July and October, and a report was forwarded to the Crown to consider harassment charges at that time, Smyth said.
Neighbours said Camille Runke had installed security cameras and floodlights outside her home after she had obtained her protection order.
One neighbour described Camille Runke's residence as "a fortress" and said she was "very, very frightened" by her former husband.
Smyth said Camille Runke was not afraid for her safety, but she was tired of her estranged husband bothering her.
"In her dealings with us, she was never afraid for her safety, but she was sick of the contact that Kevin had been persistent with," he said.
No reported history of violence
"We know that there was no reported history of violence or physical abuse prior to the homicide. Police were diligent in their efforts to help Camille Runke, and Kevin Runke's actions prior to the homicide did not warrant arrest or detention," Smyth said.
"But nonetheless, this is tragic. Camille Runke did everything she could to reasonably sever her relationship and protect herself from further harassment," he added.
"The investigators assigned to East District and the domestic unit, they're upset.… They're sickened that harm has come to Camille Runke. They did everything that they could reasonably do to help her."
Smyth added that even with the reports Camille Runke had filed about her estranged husband, police had no reason to believe Kevin Runke would become violent.
"It wouldn't have been enough to arrest for that homicide," he said. "I would say although I think it's reasonable for us to look at him, we had no evidence to link him to that homicide."