Celeste Yawney, the 33-year-old Regina woman who police believe was killed by an ex-boyfriend, lived in fear of the man, according to a friend. Yawney was also working at the YWCA helping women facing domestic abuse.
"She was scared to death of him," Cyndy Parisian told CBC News, referring to Duran Redwood, the 26-year-old man who is accused of second-degree murder in Yawney's death, Regina's fourth homicide of 2015.
'Anybody can be a victim of domestic violence.' - Amy Stensrud
Yawney's body was found in her home early Sunday morning. Police announced the charges against Redwood Monday.
Court records obtained by CBC News show Redwood has a recent history of assaulting Yawney.
In January, he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily harm in relation to incidents from the summer of 2014.
After pleading guilty he was released from custody with a conditional sentence. The sentence included:
- A nightly curfew.
- No possession of alcohol or drugs.
- Participate in an addictions program.
- Participate in programs for domestic violence, anger management and personal counseling.
- Must not live at the same address as Celeste Yawney.
Yawney was counseling women in abusive relationships
For several years Yawney was helping women facing domestic violence through the Isabel Johnson Shelter supported by the YWCA in Regina.
Her work continued despite the challenges she had in her own life. Parisian said Yawney briefly reunited with Redwood after his release from jail.
"He said he was sorry and that it would never happen again," Parisian said. She added that Yawney tried to distance herself from the man, but Redwood wouldn't stay away.
Part of the work Yawney was doing at the YWCA was counseling women on how to get out of a difficult relationship.
"That she came here every day and helped women — and then was involved in this kind of relationship — I think that says so much about her strength and character," Amy Stensrud, a colleague to Yawney at the YWCA, said.
Stensrud said she remembers Yawney as a personable woman, known for an engaging smile.
"Celeste was known as someone who had such a bright personality and such a warm welcoming way about her," Stensrud said.
"This underlines that no one is immune," she added. "Anybody can be a victim of domestic violence."
According to information from the YWCA, women who are in an abusive situation separate from their partners seven times, on average, before successfully ending the relationship. As well, women are most vulnerable to serious harm (including the risk of death) when they leave an abuser.
"[We are] so deeply sad about the loss of Celeste," Stensrud said. "But also thinking about her family and her children."
Lani Elliott, who works on awareness and prevention of abuse in relationships, did not know Yawney, but told CBC News that news of the woman's death is disturbing.
"Even though I didn't know Celeste, I recognize all of the things that were being said about her," Elliott said. "The way that her relationship had apparently progressed, and that sort of thing. And I recognized it because I was once her. So it was a little tough to read the details."
According to the most recent statistics, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of intimate partner violence in Canada — more than twice the national rate.
"I think that if we can start educating our young people and we start focusing on our youth and we start focusing on healthy families and healthy communities, then we can make a difference in those numbers and that's what we need to do," Elliott said.
Duran Redwood has been in custody since his arrest. His next court appearance is set for June 1.