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Grieving Lumby family flees in fear as suspect in woman’s death released

Community seeking justice following death of Tatjana Stefanski

The catch and release of a suspect in Tatjana Stefanski’s death has left her family so fearful they have left their home.

After the 44-year-old was reported missing, her body was found and a suspect was arrested.

“Yes Vitali (Stefanski) was released under strict conditions but after his release the first time we had an alarming event that happened at my home in Lumby, so I had called the police to come and assist,” said Jason Gaudreault, Tatjana’s boyfriend.

RCMP attended and after leaving Gaudreault’s property, he explained that Vitali was apprehended a very short distance away for a second time. And, then released again.

“So he is still free and needless to say we are scared and have vacated my property,” said Gaudreault, who is with Tatjana’s children.

He doesn’t know what could have happened that day but is thankful he was proactive and called the police.

The release has left the community outraged and demanding justice for Tatjana.

Some protests were planned and cancelled, but Gaudreault wants to make one thing clear – this is not the fault of the police.

“I would like everyone to please understand that the problem lies at a way higher level than the police. Trust me they are doing all they can do within laws and regulations do not lash out at them.

“Things need to change like tracking devices or something could have been part of the release conditions or more security for families like us who can’t even go home because we are scared for our lives.”

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold says he is ready to advocate if the RCMP identify the need for support.

“I am committed to doing all that I can to support the ongoing investigation and future steps to ensure justice is served.”

Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu has also spoken out on the tragedy.

“Violence, particularly domestic violence and violence against women and girls, has no place in our society,” she said.

“As we continue to follow the developments of this investigation, I remain committed to ensuring our laws are robust and effective in preventing such tragedies from happening again.”

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