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RCMP Supt. Marty Cheliak speaking in Edmonton.

RCMP in Alberta admit they made a mistake when they failed to respond to a 911 call from a woman who was later stabbed to death in her home.

Brenda Moreside, 44, was killed in February in High Prairie, about 300 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Her common-law husband, Stanley Willier, was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

An internal RCMP review confirmed the case "falls within the guidelines that require police attendance to the source of the call," Supt. Marty Cheliak told a news conference in Edmonton on Thursday.

"The lack of attendance in this particular case was clearly an error," Cheliak said. "We're conducting additional internal investigations to further examine the RCMP's response to this 911 call."

On Feb. 13, Moreside made a 911 call to complain Willier was drunk and trying to break into the home.

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Brenda Moreside

She was told that police could not charge him with damaging his own property, and the RCMP did not dispatch a car to respond to her call.

Moreside's body was found in the house on Feb. 25, two weeks later. She had been stabbed several times.

Recommendations from the internal review include:

  • More comprehensive training of officers for domestic and child abuse cases.
  • Family violence training courses with presentations by the solicitor general and Crown counsel, with one day devoted to aboriginal concerns.
  • Increasing the priority given to domestic violence.
  • Increased monitoring of the quality of investigations by High Prairie's detachment.

Calls for public review

"I'm glad they owned up to their mistakes but it won't change the fact that my mother's gone," said Moreside's son, Craig Flaata, who is seeking a fatality inquiry so people can see where the system failed his mother.

Jan Reimer of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters supports Flaata's call for an inquiry, saying public reviews help ensure changes are made. The group is monitoring if the improved training makes a difference.

The province will decide if a fatality inquiry into Moreside's death is warranted after the RCMP internal's review is completed. There is no timeline for the review.

Since Moreside's death, the family violence policy used by RCMP in Alberta has been redrafted. A checklist must be completed by the investigator and placed on all family violence files to make sure aspects of the case have been addressed.

Supervisors will be held accountable for the work of their subordinates, Cheliak said.

As well, reviews of family violence cases in High Prairie between Jan. 1, 2004 and Aug. 25, 2005 were done and any requiring follow-up action were reopened. New family violence cases have fully complied with policy requirements, Cheliak said.