Therapist suspected of slaying family clings to life
The 41-year-old Montreal therapist who police believe killed his two daughters and wife on Saturday was an upstanding member of his professional order with a clean record.
It's not clear whether Dragolub Tzokovitch, a certified psychologist, had ever undergone therapy himself for mental distress, even though he counselled others in his private practice on the West Island.
Tzokovitch's wife, Mila Yoynova, 40, and their daughters, Iva, 17, and Alice, 10, were found slain in their beds at home on Woodside Crescent in Beaconsfield Saturday just before noon, after police receive a 911 call from a friend of the family.
Officers found Tzokovitch alive in the master bedroom bleeding profusely from self-inflicted gun wounds. He remained in critical condition and on life support at the Montreal General Hospital on Monday night.
Police say they believe Tzokovitch shot his family before turning the gun on himself, following a domestic dispute that erupted at some point on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Member of psychologists association
Tzokovitch was an accredited member of the Canadian Counselling Association and a licensed member of the Quebec Order of Psychologists. Heran a part-time private counselling clinic on Montreal's West Island, in addition to a small business.
As a psychologist, he was trained to detect, evaluate and treat mental health disorders, but he was under no obligation to undergo therapy himself, said Pierre Desjardins, the director of professional standards at the order.
Psychologists study forfive to eight years before gaining the expertise to counsel others, but that training does not include therapy.
"It's not mandatory. Therapy, for it to work, a person has to feel the need and the utility, and has to engage in the process him- or herself for it to work," Desjardins said on Monday.
Although Quebec's 8,000 licensed psychologists are not obliged to receive regular counselling, there aremeasures in place to help those struggling with mental health problems, and they can seek out therapy themselves, said the order's secretary general, StÃ©phane Beaulieu.
"Psychologists do consult other psychologists. It's part of the culture," Beaulieu said.
Beaulieu said they're no more at risk than any other health professionals when it comes to mental health illnesses such as depression or psychosis. However, he acknowledged thatthe daily grind of providing mental health support to troubled people can exact a toll and cause stress.
Family survived divorce
The Tzokovitch-Yoynova family were reportedly well-adjusted, despite hard times in recent years, friends said. The first-generation immigrants, who arrived from Bulgaria in the early 1990s, were active in the community, and Yoynova taught yoga.
The couple divorced in 2002 but reconciled about a year ago, and seemed happy, according to those who knew them. Their eldest daughter, Iva, was a student at John Abbott College. Her sister, Alice, was a Grade Five student at St. Paul Elementary, a school in the neighbourhood.
There were few indications that Tzokovitch may have been in turmoil in the days leading up to the triple murder on Saturday.Some neighbours remembered seeing him driveerratically through the neighbourhood the day before.
A friend of his received a chilling e-mail sent bythe psychologist on Friday that advised him to call 911. The e-mail said by the time the friend finished reading it, Tzokovitch would no longer be in this world.
Time of death not clear: police
The friend called 911 at 11:20 a.m. ET Saturday morning after reading the e-mail, and police went to investigate the tip. That's when they found the bodies, said Const. Anie Lemieux.
It's not yet clear whether Tzokovitch sent the e-mails before or after the shootings, and police don't know how long the victims had been dead, but the Quebec coroner's report should establish a more precise timeline, Lemieux said.
The autopsies were performed on Monday and results are expected to be made public in the following days.Investigators will meet with the unidentified e-mail recipient because he's a potential witness, Lemieux said.
Police won't lay any charges until Tzokovitch's prognosis becomes clearer. "When he's on the point of passing away, before charging him, we have to determine his state of health," Lemieux said.
Police confirmed Tzokovitch owned a .357 magnum revolver that was legally registered, and that the weapon was found inside the home.
Counsellors to help victim's schoolmates
The triple murder has sent shock waves through the tidy, well-manicured neighbourhood where the family had lived for several years. Orange tape surrounded the property as investigators marched in and out of the home to collect evidence in the 48 hours that followed the discovery of the bodies.
Children in the neighbourhood played with Alice, the youngest daughter. "She's my little sister's friend," said Carl Trottier. "She was always over, yah. She was really nice," he told CBC.
Grief counsellors were on hand Monday at St. Paul Elementary to counsel Alice's classmates on her death.
With files from the Canadian Press