Early Sunday morning, Colin Kingston showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s house, angry and equipped with a large knife. He allegedly let himself in through a back door* and went up to 21-year-old Kelsey Annese’s room, where he found her and Matthew Hutchinson, 24. He and Annese had dated for three years until she broke up with him and moved on. Finding Annese in bed with what he presumed to be her new boyfriend, Kingston stabbed them both, then called his father, saying that he’d murdered his girlfriend and that he planned to also to kill himself. When the police showed up, all three were dead.
Why? Well, according to the media, he was heart-broken.
“We believe Mr Kingston was distraught over the breakup, which led to the events yesterday,” Officer Szczesniak told reporters at a media conference. Dozens of media outlets happily picked up on this angle.
One headline asks, “Did a broken heart lead Colin Kingston to kill two people?” Another states only, “Matthew Hutchinson, North Vancouver hockey player, found dead in N.Y. state,” leaving readers confused as to why the female victim — the primary target of the violence — was so easily erased from the story. “A 24-year-old New York man angry about a recent breakup fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend and another SUNY-Geneseo college student before killing himself,” Heavy reports.
What we are to believe, in case it’s unclear, is that “love” caused this man to kill a woman. This is a message we hear so often, it probably seems reasonable to many. But it’s not reasonable. Men do not kill out of “love,” they kill out of a desire to control. “If I can’t have you, nobody can,” is a common refrain we hear from abusive men. And, often, they mean it.
Every day, three women are killed by their abusive partners or ex-partners. It is known that women are in the most danger of injury or violence when they leave or try to leave their abusers. Are we to believe that these men are killing their ex-wives or girlfriends because they are “heart-broken” or “distraught over the break-up?” Or can we tell the truth, and say that men kill their partners because they want power over these women — because they want control, because they believe they own their wives and girlfriends?
Men who kill their partners tend to be possessive, jealous, controlling men — they feel entitled to “their” women. And so when these women escape, their last ditch effort at complete control is murder. “You cannot leave me, I own you.” They would rather see these women dead than accept rejection or the idea that women are free to make their own choices about their lives.
Hours before the murders, Kingston had been seen (Saturday night) in the Geneseo bar district. He had, reportedly, been making “suicidal comments” to people.
The media and the police want us to believe this was a “crime of passion,” but showing up with a knife at your ex-girlfriend’s house, after you were out, threatening suicide (something abusive men often do in an attempt to manipulate their partners into staying or coming back), doesn’t sound like a “crime of passion” to me. It sounds like an entitled, possessive man sought out his ex-girlfriend in order to punish her for the crime of being free — free from him.
The more we talk about men’s violence against women as “passionate” or as something uncontrollable — attached to love or heartache, the more we excuse things like domestic abuse and male entitlement. There are plenty of women in this world (men, too!) who have had their hearts broken in the most gruesome and unfair ways… And yet, their emotions haven’t led them to kill. This kind of violence is a gendered crime and we must name it as such. Disguising the truth will only lead to more violence — this we know.
*EDIT: Initially I’d read reports that said Kingston had been let in, but it sounds as though he, in fact, let himself in through a back door.