News

Saanich man faces murder charge in shooting death of wife

A Saanich police officer approaches a home behind yellow tape in the 700-block of Cameo Street Tuesday morning, where police are investigating a death. - Kyle Slavin/News staff
A Saanich police officer approaches a home behind yellow tape in the 700-block of Cameo Street Tuesday morning, where police are investigating a death.
— image credit: Kyle Slavin/News staff

A 71-year-old Saanich man faces one count of first degree murder while using a firearm in the death of his wife.

Joseph Melvin Desroches was charged Tuesday night (March 18) via telebail in the fatal shooting of his wife, Rosa, 77, that occurred in their Cameo Street home earlier that morning.

Saanich police Sgt. John Price said Desroches was arrested at 751 Cameo St. without incident around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, after police were called to the home to assist someone who needed medical attention.

At some point before officers arrived, Price said the caller provided more information that led to a greater response.

“A number of uniformed police officers responded to that 911 call, they contained the home, and as a result of providing the containment they subsequently called the resident out of the home. (The suspect) exited the home and was arrested and taken into custody without incident,” Price said. He could not say whether the accused has been co-operative with investigators from the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit.

Late Tuesday evening police obtained a warrant to search the home. Inside, they found the body of the deceased, as well as the family dog. Price said both had been shot.

“They did find and seize a firearm that they believe is in relation to this incident,” Price said, but would not comment on the make or model of the weapon.

In the coming days police anticipate a forensic autopsy will be conducted to determine the nature of injuries and exact cause of death.

“I can tell you that there were reports of one or more shots fired, however I cannot comment on the actual method of her death. I can tell you it is a reported fatal shooting that’s being investigated,” Price said.

A neighbour who has lived on the street for 16 years, who asked not to be identified, said he knew the older couple that lived in the home. He said he didn’t see the woman leave the house very often, and he would regularly talk to Joseph Desroches while he walked the family dog. Desroches told him he had a military background.

Price said there are no documented mental health issues related to the home, and would not comment on whether investigators are looking at mental health as a factor in the shooting. He said there is currently no known police history involving the suspect, including domestic violence calls.

Desroches appeared in court late Wednesday morning. He was remanded in custody until his next court appearance, scheduled for March 26.

Neil MacKenzie, spokesperson for B.C. Crown Counsel, said the matter remains under review and charges could change in the coming days.

This is Saanich’s first murder in more than three years. On Jan 18, 2011, an elderly Cadboro Bay man killed his wife and then himself in their home.

editor@saanichnews.com

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