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Ex-husband of slain Lumby mother charged with second-degree murder

Vitali Stefanski was arrested and charged Friday, May 31
Tatjana Stefanski’s ex-husband, Vitali Stefanski, has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to the death of the Lumby mother in April 2024. (Jason Gaudreault photo)

More than a month after the murder of a Lumby mother, the RCMP have announced charges against her ex-husband in her death.

Tatjana Stefanski was reported as having been abducted on April 13. The next day, her body was located in a rural location near Lumby, and a man believed to have been involved in her death was arrested in the general vicinity. That man was later released from police custody with conditions.

On May 31, the RCMP said Vitali Stefanski, Tatjana’s ex-husband, was charged with second-degree murder in relation to her death.

Stefanski has been arrested and is currently in custody pending a future court appearance.

Since Tatjana’s death, the RCMP’s Southeast District Major Crime Unit has been working to gather evidence, which led to materials being submitted to Crown counsel seeking approval for a second-degree murder charge.

In the days that followed Tatjana’s death, fear and outrage sparked in the community, as it was announced a suspect had been arrested and released without charges. Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton said, “Panic set in right when people found out the suspect wasn’t detained.”

He said the town, which is typically “like Pleasantville,” remains on “high alert” more than a month later.

“Something like this really catches us by surprise because you realize that even though you’re a small community, you’re not immune to such horrible or horrific things,” he said.

Tatjana’s partner of four years, Jason Gaudreault, feared that he or Tatjana’s son or 16-year-old daughter could be next, so the family went into hiding.

Staff Sergeant Jason Smart acknowledged the “challenges” that led to Stefanski being charged about a month and a half after Tatjana’s death.

“Although this investigation to date has had its many challenges, the recent charges brought against Mr. Stefanski are the result of the tireless investigative work done by the members of the SED MCU and Vernon RCMP Detachment,” Smart said.

B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), is currently investigating the leadup to Tatjana’s death, assessing whether police action or inaction played a role in her murder. Specifically, the IIO is looking into a report indicating concern for Tatjana’s safety that came to police in December, four months before she was murdered.

The death of Tatjana shook the community but also united them as residents looked for answers while placing heart-shaped stickers saying “Justice for Tatjana” on storefronts and car windows.

- With files from The Canadian Press

READ MORE: ‘Looking over our shoulders’: A killing looms large in Lumby

READ MORE: Police watchdog investigating leadup to death of Lumby woman

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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