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Accused killer of Observer Louise Phillips commits suicide; roundup

April 20, 2011 2 comments

Here’s a rare roundup from the interior. Treasure it.

The man accused of murdering Salmon Arm Observer office manager Louise Phillips has died after shooting himself in the head with a nail gun. James Phillips, Louise’s estranged husband, was out on bail when he shot himself.

Just a news tip to the Black Press headline writers: an interview with a politician at election time isn’t exclusive.

Penticton Herald headline: “Kidder pulls out guitar to end candidate’s forum.” But the story, which is otherwise fine, says nothing about a guitar. I’m confused.

Not in B.C., but worth mentioning anyways: A tiny newspaper serving a Mohawk First Nation in Ontario Quebec has been nominated alongside the CBC, Radio-Canada, Calgary Herald, Vancouver Sun and Hamilton Spectator for a major public service journalism award. The Eastern Door was nominated for a series of articles that revealed that the Mohawk Council was sending eviction notices to non-natives. The notices were cancelled after the stories ran. The paper has two reporters and its editor is also the publisher.

He told J-source:

“Some business people said, ‘Hey maybe you shouldn’t be so hard (on the council). I said, ‘We’re talking about peoples’ lives here. If it costs (the newspaper) a few dollars, then…’”

Superb.

A beauty from the Kamloops cops via Tim Petruk of Kamloops This Week:

“A male had made rude comments towards a female outside that downtown location — and she proceeded to give him a jersey pull and punched him numerous times,” Aird said in explaining the jersey pull, a very effective strategy employed the best fighters in hockey.

The woman is then alleged to have pushed the man’s head into a wall.

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Stories like that will have me doing more roundups soon.

Kristi Patton of the Penticton Western News has a terrific piece of court reporting:

The jury of a kidnapping, unlawful confinement and assault trial got an inside look at the tribulations of life in the South Okanagan drug world.

Drug stashes in the streets of Oliver, a home invasion by men threatening with a shotgun, paranoia causing people to bounce from home to home, addicted family members and beatings by upper-level drug dealers all came to light in the Penticton Supreme Court last week.

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Photo of the week comes from… drum roll please… 100 Mile House publisher, sales manager, and spot news photographer-extraordinaire Chris Nickless, who got a cracking shot of a roaring fire in Lac La Hache. Chris won a CCNA in 2009 for his photography, so this isn’t out of the ordinary.

The search function on Black Press websites is HORRIBLE. I rarely use all caps, but it’s that freakin’ bad.

Reporter out.

*****

This blog is still a one-person show, so any help would be great. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll shamefully update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

Mounties arrest, charge estranged husband of slain Salmon Arm Observer staffer

March 4, 2011 Comments off

The estranged husband of slain Salmon Arm Observer office manager Louise Phillips has been arrested and charged with second degree murder in connection with her death. For background click here and here.

The Observer story can be found here with some background and quotes from Phillips’s landlords.

Phillips, 52, had been renting a small apartment, which was attached to the main residence at 76 Timms Rd., while her husband was out-of-town doing employment training. He had returned to Salmon Arm on a reading week break.

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Here’s the full RCMP release:

On Friday March 4th, 2011, the RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit arrested 55 yr old James Douglas Phillips in connection with the murder of his spouse 52 yr old Louise Phillips.

James Douglas Phillips who currently resides in Castlegar, BC, was arrested by RCMP investigators upon his release from hospital care at the Kelowna General Hospital Friday morning. RCMP Officers earlier this week forwarded a report to Crown Counsel, recommending consideration for a charge of second degree murder be approved along with seeking a warrant for his arrest.

With a charge approved under section 235 cc for second degree murder and arrest warrant obtained, investigators took James Douglas Phillips into custody without incident at KGH. Phillips had been hospitalized since the Salmon Arm RCMP responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at the Salmon Arm residence of Louise Phillips back on Friday evening, February 18, 2011.

Uniformed officers who were first on the scene that evening, were faced with the somber discovery of Louise Phillips dead in her home with her estranged husband on the scene and both persons suffering from apparent stab wounds. After an extensive investigation, the SED MCU team were able to submit sufficient evidence and findings to crown and deem that they believe that the death of Louise Phillips is a homicide.

“Our investigation confirmed that this matter was a domestic related disturbance and our findings indicated that couple were legally separated. James Phillips had returned to reside at the home in Salmon Arm last year off and on. Historical police records checks of the couple did not uncover any previously reported domestic violence related incidents” stated Cpl Dan Moskaluk.

Salmon Arm Observer covers the sudden death of co-worker

February 28, 2011 Comments off

The family of Louise Phillips, the Salmon Arm Observer office manager who died under suspicious circumstances earlier this month, spoke to Barb Brouwer last week about their loss.

The story is unbelievably sad, but well written and compassionate.

In Salmon Arm now because of his mother’s death last Friday, 24-year-old Eli has two tickets left behind at his Calgary home — tickets that will never be used.

Eli and his mother planned to attend a concert by the band Heart, yesterday. Louise had bought the tickets last fall as a birthday gift to Eli and had planned to fly to Calgary for the event.

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In a separate story, Barb writes about the deep sense of loss experienced by her co-workers at the Observer. There are quotes by numerous staffers. Barb writes:

There is a hole in the hearts of all of us who work at the Observer.

One of our own was taken from us suddenly Friday and all of us in the Observer family are trying to absorb the unimaginable.

To this reporter, Louise was a dear friend, confidante and walking buddy who was, like other members of the Observer family, a beneficiary of her loving kindness. I will miss her more than words can express. I loved her.

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And editor Tracy Hughes pens a terrific and heart-wrenching column:

Shock, horror, disbelief.

When my phone rang on Saturday with the horrific news that one of our own staff members was killed, disbelief is the first thing that hit.

Louise Phillips, I thought. Is there another Louise Phillips in town? That simply can’t be our Louise.

No, not the sweet lady who greeted me at the door every morning, who never had a cross word, who hand-sewed picture frames for all three of my children so my oldest wouldn’t feel left out when the newborn twins were being showered with attention.

It just couldn’t be that lady.

And yet it was.

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There has been no more news on how Phillips may have died since it was reported early last week.

Salmon Arm Observer staffer dies after “suspicious” incident

February 24, 2011 Comments off

Salmon Arm Observer office manager Louise Phillips died Friday “under suspicious circumstances” according to the Observer.

Mounties said they were called to the home last Friday night and found Phillips dead and her husband injured.

“We are progressing with the determination as to whether the death is of a criminal nature or not…” says Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, RCMP spokesperson, noting investigators are hoping a forensic autopsy, which took place Tuesday morning at Royal Inland Hospital, will provide more evidence.

Members of the Southeast District Major Crimes Unit interviewed Observer staff members this week, focusing on domestic relations between Louise and her husband Jim Phillips, which were known to have been strained. The couple had been separated for periods of time since the fall of 2009.

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