Muruwet Tuncer

January, 2011

Slain woman fled abuse in Turkey

January 30, 2009

Barbara Brown
Jackson Hayes
Emma Reilly

Police are turning to residents of a west-Mountain neighbourhood to help their investigation of the slaying of a 41-year-old woman Wednesday.

Officers will be approaching residents starting in the Limeridge and W 5th area and continuing north to the downtown core.

Police have refused to provide further information about the murder, though they have released the canvassing questionnaire.

It asks if residents saw anyone in an orange jumpsuit on the day of the murder and whether residents have found any blood-stained clothing.

Muruwet Tuncer had two men in her short life.

One, she married at 16 in her native Turkey. He went to jail after stabbing her when she tried to leave him.

The second man she met after leaving her husband. The pair eventually had a son and moved to Canada together.

Yesterday, that man, 39-year-old Cengiz Isiko, was charged with her murder.

"She came here to escape, but it happened here again," said her sister, Munevver Tuncer.

The 41-year-old mother of four was starting to get back on her feet after separating from Isiko. She was studying English at St. Charles Adult Education Centre on the Mountain and had plans to attend university. Between classes and caring for her children, Tuncer worked as a school bus driver.

"For the first time since she was a teenager, she could make her own decisions," said her friend, Agnes Gizard. "She was really rebuilding her life. Everything was going well."

Tuncer was found with her throat slit Wednesday inside a home she had shared with her family on Elkwood Drive near West 5th Street.

Her niece, 13-year-old Rumeysa Cosgun, was stabbed several times in the abdomen and ran bleeding to neighbours' houses for help.

Cosgun, who was home from school for lunch during the violence, is in stable condition at McMaster hospital. Munevver Tuncer said Cosgun is "not herself yet."

"She's not getting worse, but not getting better."

Friends and family say Muruwet Tuncer was "full of life." She volunteered with her children's schools and worked at Settlement and Integration Services Organization, said SISO president Morteza Jafarpour.

In her spare time, Tuncer liked to go down to the waterfront and read, relax and tan.

"She had lots of bad things in her life," Munevver said. "But she was holding onto her life with both hands."

Tuncer and her two sisters' former employer, Kieran Hughes, said the three women were constantly bringing in Turkish treats.

The sisters, who dreamt of opening a restaurant, would say in their homeland friendship is forged through food.

"They were all really amazing and tough, tough, women," Hughes said. "Now there's another kid without a mom."

Tuncer filed for custody of their son after Isiko was accused of assaulting her in April 2005.

In the family court documents, she describes her common-law husband as someone with "a demanding nature," who expects total obedience.

The documents also stated Tuncer was worried Isiko would run off with their son as "a means of punishing me for not accepting his treatment of me."

Tuncer was given full custody of their son, who is now four, and Isiko was given access to the boy on alternating weekends and every other week of summer holidays.

When Tuncer and Isiko were together, he forbade her from talking to her sisters. When they broke up, Isiko blamed them, Munevver said.

Tuncer and Isiko's relationship was tumultuous. Tuncer would often take refuge at a shelter or at her sister's house.

When they were separated, Munevver Tuncer said Isiko would try to win her sister back.

"They have a child together. She loved him," Munevver said.

Isiko was arrested Wednesday night at 6:45, six hours after Tuncer died and only 45 minutes after his picture was broadcast by local media.

Isiko was found on the third floor of the Central Public Library, where the archives, newspapers and self-help books are located.

Hamilton police kept Isiko in custody at central police station until he was transported for his first appearance in court yesterday afternoon.

He wore the white paper coveralls that police issue inmates after they confiscate their clothes as evidence. He looked dishevelled and said nothing during his short appearance before justice of the peace Lillian Ross.

His lawyer, Anthony McCusker, asked that the charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder be read aloud to his client. Ross granted Crown lawyer Denis Allan's request for an order that Isiko have no contact with the Cosgun family who are relatives of his slain partner and the wounded girl.

This wasn't the first time that Tuncer had faced violence. When she was 16 and living in Turkey, she became engaged to a man in his early 20s. Later, she decided she wanted to finish her education rather than get married.

Due to "community pressure," her sister said, Tuncer went ahead with the marriage.

Tuncer and her husband moved to France and had three children, now 13, 23 and 24. The youngest lived in Canada with Tuncer.

Tuncer and her husband started to argue. She decided to end the relationship.

"He didn't accept that. He wanted to continue the marriage," Tuncer said. "She tried to get out, but she couldn't."

Tuncer's husband lashed out. He stabbed her in the stomach, but Tuncer blocked the blade with her hands. She went to the emergency room. Munevver said Tuncer's husband went to jail.

After the separation, Tuncer became ostracized from the Turkish community in France.

"I don't think she had too much choice of friends," Gizard said. It was then that Tuncer met Isiko.

The pair became estranged while still living in France, but reconciled when both immigrated to Canada -- Isiko arrived claiming refugee status in January 2005 while Tuncer arrived in March 2005.

Munevver said her sister loved her life in Canada.

"She was a beautiful woman," Munevver said. "This is a terrible, terrible thing."

Donations can be made at Scotia bank Central Mall branch, account SISO in Trust for Gonca and Devrimcan. Also, donations can be made by calling Belkis Ozer at 905-667-7500.