2 'suspicious' deaths at Saint John hotel a year ago deemed murder-suicide

The "suspicious" deaths of a man and woman from Western Canada whose bodies were found at a Saint John hotel nearly a year ago have been deemed a murder-suicide.

Man shot woman, then himself a few days after they checked into hotel, police say

The Saint John Police Force has ruled the deaths of a man and woman found at the Best Western last February were the result of a murder-suicide, Sgt. Jay Henderson told reporters on Wednesday. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Almost a year after the bodies of a man and a woman were discovered in an east Saint John hotel, police have revealed the pair died in a murder-suicide.

The 26-year-old man and 22-year-old woman were found dead on Feb. 28, 2017 at the Best Western on Majors Brook Drive. At the time, police would only say the deaths were "suspicious." 

But on Wednesday, Sgt. Jay Henderson revealed the man killed the woman and then took his own life.

Both died of gunshot wounds. 

"We have concluded our investigation and determine this case was that of a murder-suicide," he said.

Henderson said police are withholding the names of the man and woman out of respect for their families.

The couple, from Western Canada, were in an intimate relationship, he said, and it appears neither had any connection to the Saint John area or region.

Cocaine was found in their hotel room, Henderson said.

Early on, investigators suspected this was a case of murder-suicide, but experts from the RCMP forensic lab in Halifax had to do a ballistics analysis to be sure. The results were only returned recently, he said.

Had to be certain

"That was our final test that we were waiting for to conclusively end this investigation," Henderson said.

Police Chief John Bates said the department had to be sure of the details before sharing them.

"We were going to be telling one family that their child had been murdered, and we were going to be telling another family that their loved one had committed a murder," said Bates.

"You'd better be darn certain about what you're saying before you go public with that kind of information."

Saint John police took photographs of the licence plates of vehicles in the Best Western parking lot as part of the investigation. (CBC)

Henderson said the couple had checked into their room at the Best Western Plus Saint John Hotel and Suites a few days before they were found. None of the other guests reported hearing gunshots.

"There was no struggle in the room or anything like that," he said.

Nor was there anything to indicate the murder-suicide was planned.

The couple had been dead for "mere hours" before their dogs' barking suggested something was wrong. 

Dogs back home

"It was the dogs' barking that first notified us," Henderson said.

Two small dogs were removed from the crime scene by first responders. After spending time with the SPCA, Henderson said, the dogs were returned to couple's families.

Police still don't know much about the history of the handgun, which wasn't registered.

"We have submitted a trace request through the RCMP," Henderson said.