Her estranged husband and father of their two-year-old child is in custody facing charges.
“I guess everybody is in shock that this could have happened,” Faro Mayor Jim McLachlan said this morning. “We have had deaths by gun before (suicide), but, to my best knowledge, in my 29 years here, we have never had a murder.”
Whitehorse RCMP Const. Al Lucier said this morning that 20-year-old Sonja Rushton was found dead with several stab wounds at 7:30 p.m. Monday in her Harper Street home on the town’s lower bench, after a neighbor phoned in a complaint.
The murderer had apparently left the home with the woman’s two-year-old daughter. She worked as a grocery clerk. Lucier flew to the community last night as part of the Yukon’s emergency response team.
He said Kevin Rushton, of Truro, N.S., was arrested without incident. Rushton was scheduled to appear later today in Whitehorse territorial court to face a charge of second-degree murder.
At about 12:15 this morning, almost five hours after the local detachment responded to the call, the suspect was arrested when he returned with the child to the area where the woman was slain.
Rushton was arrested by a Faro RCMP officer guarding the murder scene. “He simply entered into a dialogue with him ... and the child was taken without incidence,” Lucier said. “The child was not harmed in any way, and the individual surrendered to police without incidence.
“He was not hysterical, he was not moving around the area surreptitiously. He had simply walked up to the back yard of the house adjacent to where the crime scene was.”
Lucier said an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Rushton and the deceased were married but had been separated for several months, he said.
It’s not known when and how the estranged husband arrived in Faro, Lucier said. McLachlan, however, said Rushton was seen at a few Christmas parties in Faro last December while he was in the community looking for work.
But he left Faro soon afterward, said McLachlan, adding that he does not know when or how the accused returned. The victim, he said, moved from eastern Canada to Faro late last summer to be closer to her mother, who was working for Lomak North Corp. the ore-hauling trucking company.
McLachlan said this is not a case of a local resident succumbing to tremendous social and financial pressures brought on by February’s closure of the Faro mine. “It’s an internal, family matter,” he said.
Word spread that the primary suspect was on the run, and was possibly armed and dangerous. McLachlan said caution was quickly passed among Harper Street residents that it was best if they locked their doors and stayed inside their homes.
Even with the exodus of some 600 or so Faroites following the mine’s closure, Faro remains a close-knit community of 900 to 1,000 that’s easily affected by incidents like this, said McLachlan.
By Chuck Tobin, Star reporter The Whitehorse Star, March 30, 1998