Ottawa

Killer who stabbed family was charged with stalking, sexual assault days before attack

The man who stabbed a mother and her two daughters Monday night is the son of the family's next-door neighbour, had a "romantic" interest in one of the victims, and was just days ago charged with stalking and sexual assault against another woman, CBC News has learned.

Joshua Graves, shot dead by police, was told not to contact victim

Yellow police tape can be seen across a residential street with police and SIU vehicles parked on either side. A female police officer stands near the middle of the road.
Police tape seen here at the crime scene on Tuesday had been taken down by Wednesday afternoon, when special cleaners were waiting to enter the Ready family home. (Stu Mills/CBC)

The man who stabbed a mother and her two daughters Monday night is the son of the family's next-door neighbour, had a "romantic" interest in one of the victims, and was just days ago charged with stalking and sexual assault against another woman, CBC News has learned.

Joshua Graves, 21, was shot and killed by police after three officers fired on him when he allegedly refused to drop the knife he was using in the attack.

The stabbings came just three days after Graves appeared in court on his first criminal offences. He was arrested Thursday, then charged and released from custody on Friday.

Ottawa police have identified the victims as 50-year-old Anne-Marie Ready, who worked as a trade commissioner at Global Affairs, and her 15-year-old daughter Jasmine Ready, who her school board said recently finished Grade 10 at the French Catholic high school Franco-Cité.

Catherine Ready, the 19-year-old eldest daughter of the family, survived both the stabbing and being hit by police gunfire. She had graduated from Franco-Cité last year, according to Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est.

Graves' relatives told CBC he had previously shown "romantic" interest in one of the daughters, and had been told to stop contacting her.

3 officers fired after he refused to drop knife

Police showed up at 1273 Anoka St. at about 10:30 p.m. Monday after a 911 call from the house in which screaming could be heard.

Patrol officers arrived to find Graves in the act of stabbing Catherine Ready on the street just outside. They ordered him to drop the knife, according to preliminary information released by Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

When Graves didn't obey those orders, three different patrol officers fired on him.

Graves was pronounced dead at the scene. Catherine Ready was taken to hospital for her multiple stab wounds and gunshot wound. 

Police found the bodies of both her mother and sister nearby.

A police officer surrounded by crime tape uses a camera.
A police officer uses a camera Tuesday at the scene of a triple homicide south of Ottawa's core the previous night. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Neighbours described the family, especially the sisters, as friendly fixtures on the street whom they often saw walking their dog or mowing the lawn.

By Wednesday afternoon, police tape that had closed off the scene had been torn down and a special cleaning crew was waiting to enter the Ready family home.

Right next door at the home of Greg Graves, a woman left trays of food and beverages at the front door.

'He was my baby boy'

Greg Graves, like many of the other residents on Anoka Street late Monday night, watched as police responded to what he didn't realize was his own son on a violent rampage.

He heard the sirens, the police commands to drop the knife, the gunshots.

"He was my baby boy," he told CBC News by phone Wednesday.

In a statement he prepared for the Ready family, Greg Graves wrote that "Words cannot express how devastated, bewildered and sad I am for the loss of your mother and daughter.

"I believe I know the demons my son was grappling with that resulted in the terrible actions. It is a tragedy for all of us and one we will need to understand and reconcile in the days ahead."

Greg Graves said there is deep pain in his heart and deep respect for all the loss of life. "May we find peace and forgiveness," his statement reads.

Charged last week with first offences

According to courthouse records, Joshua Graves was charged on June 24 with three counts of criminal harassment, assault, and sexual assault for allegedly stalking another woman he went to school with from March to June of this year.

The untried allegations included that he repeatedly followed the woman, tried to communicate with her and attempted to kiss her.

Graves was released the same day he was charged, with the consent of the Crown.

According to a copy of his release order, his mother Emily Graves was acting as his surety and Joshua Graves was ordered to live with her at another residence and not at his father's house on Anoka Street.

A history of mental illness

In her own statement, his mother told CBC News she believes her typically non-violent son — who has a history of mental illness and was beginning to get medical treatment — had a break with reality.

"What Joshua did, was not a reflection of the soft-spoken boy who was struggling with mental illness still
trying to find himself in this world," the statement reads.

According to his family, his mental health struggles went undiagnosed until August of 2021, when he was found to have a major depressive disorder. 

His family believes last week's arrest was the catalyst for what happened.

"This was the chain of events that led up to Joshua having a mental breakdown. He must have thought that these charges would be the end of his life and freedom," the family's statement said.

His family does not wish to justify his actions, they added, but are hoping to explain them.

Upon his release following his arrest last week, the 21-year-old was ordered not to contact the woman he allegedly stalked — along with other witnesses in that case — both in person and on social media, according to court records.

He was ordered to turn over all digital access codes and device passwords to his mother so she could monitor his use of electronic devices, and was also banned from possessing any weapons.

Both the SIU and Ottawa police continue to investigate Monday's attack.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaamini Yogaretnam

CBC Ottawa reporter

Shaamini Yogaretnam is CBC Ottawa's justice, crime and police reporter. She has spent nearly a decade covering crime in the nation's capital. You can reach her at shaamini.yogaretnam@cbc.ca or 613-220-2486. You can find her on Twitter at @shaaminiwhy

With files from Avanthika Anand and Kristy Nease

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