Mothers killed in Jersey became friends after marriages failed

Details emerge of one victim's troubled relationship after stabbing that left six dead
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The Independent Online

The two mothers who were murdered with their children in a knife spree that has sent shockwaves through the island of Jersey were brought together by the collapse of their marriages, it was claimed yesterday.

Izabela Rzeszowska, 30, and best friend Marta De La Haye, 34, died after Mrs Rzeszowska's husband, Damian, allegedly launched the attack during a family barbecue on Sunday afternoon.

The 30-year-old carpenter is also accused of killing the couple's two children, Kinga, five, Kacper, 18 months, his father-in-law, Marek Garstki, 55, and Marta's five-year-old daughter, Julia, before turning the knife on himself.

As further details emerged yesterday, a friend claimed Mr Rzeszowski had found out his wife was having an affair. But she ended the romance, with an unnamed man, after Mr Rzeszowski took an overdose of antidepressants a month ago.

"Before he tried to kill himself there was a problem – Izabela had been seeing someone else," said a family friend, who had known Mrs Rzeszowska for six years. "After he ended up in hospital, Izabela told me, 'I understood now, I love Damian, I will never do it again. I want my family back, I want to live like four years ago.'

"The next day, he left hospital and... said he had a new chance at life, he wanted to live for his family, his children and begin afresh."

Mrs Rzeszowska, originally from Bydgoszcz in northern Poland, was described as a "great mother" and a "great friend". The family had returned from a two-week holiday to Damian's home town in Nowy Sacz, southern Poland, on the morning of the massacre. The friend, who last saw the couple before they left, added: "They were smiling, waiting for their holiday. Izabela was happy – she had got her husband back. I don't know what went wrong."

On the day of the family's return, care worker Mrs De La Haye fatefully moved into her friend's home after she was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and needed a place to stay. Another friend, who asked not to be named, said she was on bail after her arrest last week following an argument with her husband, Craig, who works for Jersey Electricity Company and married the Polish expat in 2003.

The friend said Mrs De La Haye had called the police following the incident at the couple's exclusive beachfront apartment, on the outskirts of St Helier, but was herself arrested after police noticed scratch marks on her husband's face.

"Marta needed a place to live to avoid going to prison," she said. "She went to stay with Craig's dad at first but then moved in with Izabela on Sunday. That same day, she and little Julia were killed."

Mr De La Haye was last night being comforted by family members on the island. Police began removing bodies from the flat only yesterday as forensic teams continued combing the scene for clues.

Mr Rzeszowski was formally arrested on Monday night in his hospital bed, where he is being kept sedated and under armed police guard. Police said it may be weeks before he is fit to be interviewed. The scale of the island's grief was laid bare yesterday as roses, carnations and sunflowers were placed among cuddly toys and teddy bears at the scene.

Tearful staff from a children's after-school activity club handed officers a bouquet of white roses at the police cordon, in St Helier.

A tribute read: "May the angels look after you now, God bless. Staff and children at Centrepoint Trust."

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Mrs Rzeszowska last night which confirmed her death was caused by multiple stab wounds. It was also revealed that she was not pregnant, police said. Post mortems on the other five victims will be carried out over the next few days.