Toronto police say the man who was killed after jumping from a bridge onto the Don Valley Parkway last Saturday was Yusuf Osman Abdille, whose wife and two sons were discovered dead in a nearby highrise.
Police said in a news release that Abdille’s involvement in the homicides is still being investigated.
Police said on Wednesday that Abdille, 50, was the husband of Zahra Mohamoud Abdille, 45, and father of the two slain boys, 13-year-old Faris, 8-year-old Zain, whose bodies were discovered inside their apartment at 85 Thorncliffe Park Dr.
Family had fled abuse in past
CBC News has learned Zahra Mohamoud Abdille and her children had spent time at a women’s shelter after fleeing from her husband last year.
In 2013, the trio stayed for several weeks at Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, a centre for abused women and their families in Scarborough, according to the facility’s executive director, Roz Roach.
“The family came to the centre because they were fleeing abuse — physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse,” Roach told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday.
Roach said Zahra married her husband in the late 1990s, after coming to Canada alone and without any “support systems.”
“He owned her. He claimed her. He controlled her income. He abused her in so many different ways.”
Zahra, who worked as a nurse with Toronto public health, attempted to gain custody of her sons while she was staying at the facility. That effort eventually failed, and she was forced to seek out a new place to live on the private market because she did not qualify for affordable housing because of her income.
Roach said she thinks Zahra went back to her home with her husband because she didn’t earn enough to afford a place on the private market, but also did not qualify for social assistance.
“She was in a trap. So many women are in a trap. If they are working, they don’t get the support,” Roach said.
The mother and her boys were mourned by the community at a candlelight vigil in Thorncliffe Park Tuesday night. Roach said she has intimate memories of the family.
Faris ‘was the protector’
“The kids were bright and energetic, and her eldest son was her protector. He would intervene in the abuse and they spoke about that often.… He was the protector for his mom.”
Roach said Zahra was hesitant to reach out to anyone in her tight-knit immigrant community for help.
“For her, she did not speak about it. She did not want her community to know about it. She had no family here, she did not have much support here,” Roach recalled.
Roach said her staff at the centre feel as though they’ve lost members of their own families.
Staff Sgt. Matt Moyer said the case has been tough on the officers, too.
“I will tell you on a personal note, it’s affected the members of the Toronto police.”