Nationwide manhunt across Latvia for serial stalker and murder suspect

State Police have been looking for 53-year-old Leons Rusiņš for two days. He killed his former partner in Jēkabpils, whom he was following for over a year. He also stalked the girlfriend's colleagues, Latvian Television reported April 18.

Rusiņš' former partner tried desperately to break any ties with him, and he had been issued with a restraining order, which he ignored. He started calling and writing. Hundreds of times.

One of his colleagues, protected by anonymity, said: “The woman decided to break up with this man, but he didn't want it. We, the woman, her family, and neighbors wrote to the police. He burned her apartment door, and all this year and a half, someone was writing to the police. When we first wrote as individuals, a fine for petty hooliganism was imposed. €250. He didn't care about it. He said there was already around €5,000 in fines.”

Rusiņš stalked all the women at their workplace – the Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC) branch in Jēkabpils – and knew their license plates and addresses. He called and told them what their children were doing right now, whom he was watching.

“Last week he started to threaten: I'll come, and it will be the end to all of you. The last news was – this woman was at the hairdresser. He tracked her down and said that [..] the black bag was waiting for her,” a colleague said.

Last Sunday, the man carried out his plan, stabbing the woman in a rural area in front of her mother and young child. After the murder, Rusiņš fled.

“In practice, measures [to apprehend him] were taken across the country, given the content and nature of the crime we know. But they were not successful,” said Lauris Arājs, chief of State Police Zemgale Region Management.

The woman, his victim, had used all the statutory rights available to her, including a restraining order which her attacker simply ignored. “He was tasked with attending a special program for reducing violence, which he did not attend. [..] We are thinking about the tools that we should have in order to prevent serial threats. He's not the only one,” Arājs said.

The case is certain to raise questions about how stalking victims are supposed to be protected if their tormentors are able to just ignore sanctions, and what should be done to ensure such things cannot be repeated. 

It was confirmed at the workplace of the victim that Rusiņš had terrorized and paralyzed the work of the institution for at least half a year.

“We are shocked by the tragedy that has occurred, and we express our deepest condolences to the family of my colleague. Over the past six months, countless rude calls, text messages, and emails were received from the individual concerned with a variety of threats. Sometimes it was 1,000 calls a day,” said spokeswoman Ilze Arāja.

Currently, the institution's doors are closed. Workers are afraid and work from home.

“Fear. We feel fearful. I personally decided not to let the children out to school,” said a colleague of the killed woman.

The State Police believe that others are not in danger. “I want to believe it's focused on one person,” the police spokesman said. But the employees, remembering his threats, continue to fear. They have no confidence that they are protected.

The Head of the Orphan's Court of Jekabpils confirmed that the child of the victim was safe, but did not provide further comments.

Rusiņš has now been listed as an internationally-wanted suspect. Police are calling on anyone with information to report his whereabouts but not to approach him. It is possible he might have left Latvia or attempted suicide. Police can be contacted via the emergency telephone number 112.

On Wednesday, Chief of State Police Armands Ruks ordered the start of a service inspection in connection with the murder to ensure that the police have acted in accordance with the regulatory framework and done a sufficient job. 

The VP said that a thorough and detailed assessment of the specific situation is currently being carried out, the police are reviewing the effectiveness of the existing legal framework and the potential shortcomings in the legal framework, assessing both these and similar cases.

With an objective assessment of the whole situation, proposals for necessary legislative amendments will accordingly be tabled, the VP noted.

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