Victim 'felt threatened,' sought peace bond against Tatamagouche murder suspect

Susie Butlin, who was killed Sunday, alleged last month in court documents that her neighbour had sexually assaulted her and vandalized her property.

Police charge 49-year-old Ernie (Junior) Ross Duggan with first-degree murder in death of Susie Butlin

Officers found the suspect in Lockerbie Memorial Cemetery on Highway 6 in Tatamagouche, N.S. (Pierre-Alex Bolduc/Radio-Canada)

A 58-year-old woman killed near Tatamagouche, N.S., feared for her safety and sought a peace bond against her next-door neighbour in the weeks before she died, claiming she had been sexually assaulted and her property vandalized.

Susie Butlin's body was found late Sunday by RCMP officers responding to a 911 call at a home on Clarks Road in Bayhead, Colchester County. She worked in real estate and at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche.

Police have not said how the woman died.

Susie Butlin worked in real estate and also at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche. (

Her neighbour, Ernie (Junior) Ross Duggan, 49, has been charged with first-degree murder. He also faces an attempted murder charge over allegations he shot at police.

After arriving at the home, officers followed a man seen driving away from the scene. He was found a short time later near a cemetery on Highway 6 in nearby Tatamagouche.

Police tried to talk to the man "for some hours" and the standoff ultimately ended in an exchange of gunfire. The man — wounded while still inside his vehicle — was taken to hospital, where he remains in police custody in stable condition.

Peace bond

According to court documents, Butlin applied for a peace bond weeks earlier, on Aug. 10, against Duggan, of Bayhead, accusing him of sexual assault and vandalism. She wrote that she "felt threatened."

A peace bond is a court order a person can apply for if they fear another person will harm them, their family or property. A judge then decides whether to place conditions on the defendant.

A Truro provincial court judge ordered on Aug. 30 that Duggan have no contact "whatsoever" with Butlin.

In the court documents, Butlin alleged the sexual assault happened at her home on July 2. She wrote that Duggan was drunk and "very strong."

Ernie (Junior) Ross Duggan, 49, has been charged with first-degree murder. He also faces an attempted murder charge over allegations he shot at police. (Facebook)

Butlin also said in the documents that her swimming pool was vandalized on Aug. 5 after she told Duggan's wife about the alleged assault and said she would go to the RCMP.

None of the allegations has been tested in court.

Duggan was due in court on Oct. 4 to respond to the allegations.

Meanwhile, the Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the cemetery shooting that wounded the suspect. The team investigates all serious incidents involving police, regardless of whether there are allegations of wrongdoing.

An RCMP spokesperson said that due to Duggan's condition, his court appearance has yet to be scheduled.

International students home at time of killing

The Chignecto-Central Regional School board said it is offering help to the families of two international students who were staying with Butlin.

Darcy MacRae, a spokesperson for the board, said the high school students are from southern Europe and were in the house when Butlin was killed, but not in the same room.

"One of the first things done was to contact the parents and put them in touch with their kids," MacRae said.

The students had been staying with Butlin since late August as part of the Nova Scotia International Student Program.

The school board is offering to send students to their home countries for a visit with family and then fly them back, or to fly the parents to Nova Scotia, but so far no one has taken the board up on its offers.

After the killing, MacRae said the two high school students were taken to a safe location and offered counselling.

"For any parent, you don't want to imagine what that would be like for your kid." 

'Bubbly, happy person'

Johnny Smiley from Tatamagouche worked with Butlin.

On Monday, he told CBC News he was "in complete shock" to learn she had died.

Smiley said Butlin was a pleasure to be around. 

"She always had a smile on her face, bubbly, always a, 'Good morning, how are you?' There was never a down day or nothing.... She was always a bubbly, happy person."  

With files from Cassie Williams, Paul Palmeter and Preston Mulligan