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Monday, December 1, 2008

26 Year old mother, Leslie Kelly murdered at her son's Birthday Party in Oshawa Ontario

OSHAWA, Ont. - Leslie Kelly, a mother of three died shielding her husband from a deranged family associate, who went on a knifing rampage and turned her son's birthday party into a bloodstained crime scene, relatives and police said Sunday. Yellow police tape fluttered around the townhouse complex as police forensic specialists and investigators with the province's Special Investigations Unit scoured the home and relatives and neighbours tried to make sense of the horrific violence.

"It's nuts. It's just crazy, the whole situation," said a relative of Leslie Kelly, Dave McLean. "I couldn't believe it at all. I didn't even think it was real." Relatives and neighbours identified the dead woman as Leslie Kelly, , 26; her husband Ricky Kelly, 29, who was fighting for his life in hospital; and their two youngest children - Nate, 5, and Riley, 3 - were injured in the attack.

Police responding to the dying mother's frantic 911 call Saturday afternoon shot the attacker dead during a subsequent confrontation at an adjacent unit. They identified the assailant as Gino Petralia, 47, whose son Steven, 13 - Ricky Kelly's half-brother - was at the party and had been taken in by the Kellys after the teen's mother died in August. McLean said the incident apparently began with a scuffle when Ricky Kelly, McLean's nephew, asked Petralia to leave.

They got into a fight, Petralia pulled out a knife and Leslie Kelly, jumped between the attacker and her husband, getting stabbed multiple times in the chest, McLean said. "All hell broke loose," said McLean, who called Kelly "a beautiful mom. She's a frigging hero - I mean, she saved him."

McLean said birthday boy Brandon Kelly, who neighbours said was celebrating his ninth birthday, came downstairs, found his injured three-year-old brother and then discovered his mom lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Brandon and two other children in the unit were not hurt.

McLean, who had known Petralia for 30 years, said the man had been on social assistance with a mental problems for about a decade. "I just think that he snapped finally, because he has a tendency to go off. Not as severe as this. He's just nuts." Ian Christensen said he didn't know his neighbours well, but witnessed the frantic scene as paramedics put Leslie Kelly, on a stretcher and carried one of her children to an ambulance.

As he pondered retrieving his vehicle from behind the police lines, Christensen said he was glad to be moving out of the complex at the end of the month. "I've got kids," he said. "I don't want them going up against this kind of thing." Neighbours described the Kellys as a nice working couple with three children. Chris McIntosh, who lives across the parking lot from the Kellys, called the incident devastating. "We couldn't believe it," McIntosh said. "We've just been sitting there in a daze all morning. I was up with my children ... they were crying their eyes out."

Another young neighbour, Jamie-Lynn Trip, said the killings had cast a pall on her pending 11th birthday party, which she celebrates this week. "I feel like running away, because I don't feel like getting murdered by one of these people," she said. "I find it really scary because people are getting murdered and if they're running down and I came out to see what happened, they might murder me."

John Yoannou of the Special Investigations Unit said police found Petralia in an adjacent unit, a confrontation occurred and an officer shot him dead. The SIU is a civilian police watchdog that probes police actions in cases where someone is killed or injured by an officer.

Leslie Kelly gave her life to save her husband in the bloodbath that erupted at her son's birthday party, a relative says.

"All hell broke loose," said Dave McLean, uncle of Kelly's husband Rick, who was also wounded in the knife attack at a south Oshawa townhouse Saturday afternoon.

He said Leslie, who he called a "beautiful mom," jumped in front of her husband when an attacker lunged at him with a knife.

"She's a hero – I mean, she saved him," he said.

It was to have been an afternoon of laughter, gifts and birthday cake.

But it became a scene of screams and terror and blood.

When it was over, a Glen St. townhouse was a blood-spattered mess. Leslie Kelly was dead, her husband and two of their three children were in hospital with stab wounds and her attacker was shot dead by police.

The province's Special Investigations Unit is probing the police shooting.

"It's devastating to the family," said McLean. "You can't deal with it."

Like many onlookers who came to the scene yesterday to gawk, he fought to find words to describe the deadly attack.

"It's crazy," said McLean, whose wife and sister recently died. "It's been one hell of a year. Ricky just friggin' lost his mother and now he's just lost his wife."

Of one thing he was certain: Gino Petralia, the 47-year-old Oshawa man who stabbed McLean's nephew and was later killed by a Durham Region police officer, will be vilified forever.

"I hope he rots in hell," McLean said as chill winds whipped across the asphalt.

Rick, 29, and Leslie Kelly, 26, lived in the townhouse with their sons Nathan, 3, Riley, 5, and Brandon, 11, who acquaintances said marked his birthday last Wednesday. It was his birthday that was being celebrated on Saturday, they said.

Also living with the family was 13-year-old Steven McLean, whose father was Petralia.

Steven was also the half-brother of Rick Kelly. Their mother died from cancer in August and the Kellys took Steven in to raise as their own.

According to some family acquaintances, the custody arrangement enraged Petralia, who they said was treated for mental health issues in recent months.

According to police, a woman called police late Saturday afternoon to report she had been stabbed. When officers arrived, they found Leslie Kelly suffering from fatal chest wounds. Her husband, Rick, and sons Nathan and Riley were also wounded.

All three remain in hospital.

Their other son, Brandon, Steven and a 12-year-old cousin were not hurt.

The townhouse complex was the scene of another homicide last November.

That domestic dispute left a man dead and his brother charged with second-degree murder.

"It's gotten so bad down here that you don't care what goes on next door," said Andy, 30. "Every young punk down here is carrying a gun, pretending to be a gangster."

Rock, 29, said he knew the complex's reputation when he moved in two years ago. "It's a low-income area and a lot of people resort to crime and violence," he said. "But this was a domestic dispute. It could have happened anywhere."

The SIU, which investigates incidents involving police that result in death or serious injury, has named one subject officer and six witness officers in the case.

"The SIU's policy is never to release names of subject officers unless if at the end of our investigation a charge is laid," said SIU spokesperson John Yoannou.

Autopsies on Petralia and Leslie Kelly are scheduled for tomorrow.

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