Ottawa Citizen
August 12, 1999

Woman charged in husband's slaying

Domestic violence darkened marriage of Luskville couple

Don Campbell
The Ottawa Citizen


Rita Kluke

A 51-year-old Luskville man was shot dead after a night of darts and drinking at an Aylmer bar Tuesday night. Michel "Mickey" Graveline's wife, Rita Kluke, 51, is charged with second-degree murder.

To her neighbours and many friends, Rita Kluke, was a doting grandmother of three who worked hard at an Alymer grocery store to make ends meet.

Behind the facade, however, was an apparently unhappy victim of domestic violence mired in a marriage of 30-plus years.

Late Tuesday night, the Luskville couple returned home from their regular session of darts at the Brasserie Du Lac in Aylmer, leaving the bar some time after 10 p.m.

Shortly before 11 p.m., Ms. Kluke dialled 911 to report her husband had been shot once in the chest with a hunting rifle. Within minutes, police and ambulance arrived at the couple's two-storey house on Highway 148 and rushed Mr. Graveline to hospital in Hull where he was pronounced dead within an hour.

Police quickly took Ms. Kluke into custody. Yesterday afternoon, she made her first appearance in court on a charge of second-degree murder. It was a brief procedure and Ms. Kluke was ordered to be held in custody until her next court date, scheduled for Aug. 17. She was not required to enter a plea, and a date for a bail hearing is expected to be set next week.

Mr. Graveline did odd jobs in the area and was working this summer as a greenskeeper at the prestigious Rivermead Golf Club.

But he appears to have also had a dark side, which included a history of domestic violence and excessive drinking.

In October 1991, police charged Mr. Graveline with assault causing bodily harm following a dispute with his wife.

Eight months later, he was found not guilty of the charge but was forced to sign a court order that prohibited him from consuming alcohol, possessing firearms or having any contact with his wife. He was also ordered to surrender any firearms to police.

In 1996, he was found guilty of impaired driving causing bodily harm as the result of an incident which involved a woman other than his wife.

He also had a previous conviction of public mischief dating back to 1985.

"We didn't know about her personal problems," said Jacqueline Cousineau, a server at the Brasserie Du Lac. "She was not the type to discuss her problems in public. She was not the type to complain."

It was a sentiment echoed by everyone who knew her.

"We had plans to go buy dart supplies (yesterday)," said bar patron Claire Fillion. "I cannot believe what has happened. It is a shock to everyone around here.

"She kept her personal life to herself. But we would never have thought that something like this might happen."

Others, though, suggested Mr. Graveline sometimes hounded his wife, often yelling at her in public places.

Another suggested Ms. Kluke may have finally reached the point where she could take no more.

The drive from the brasserie to the Graveline-Kluke home, located about six kilometres east of Luskville on a sharp turn where the speed limit momentarily cuts to 55 km/hr, takes about 20 minutes at best.

Patrons said Ms. Kluke had her regular two quarts of beer while the couple played their darts and left as soon as the regular league play was complete for the evening.

The shooting took place within the hour, upstairs in the modest home which has a beautiful view across Highway 148 to the south of the Ottawa River and Ontario.

Police say Mr. Graveline died of a single gunshot wound to his chest as he lay on his bed.

One neighbour said she passed the house about 11:30 p.m. and saw Ms. Kluke in handcuffs beside a cruiser and figured she had just been pulled over by police. Other neighbours said they were awakened at about 4 a.m. by police officers investigating the case.

"They seemed like quiet people," said neighbour Gilles Gagnon.

The couple has a son who lives nearby and a daughter in Beechgrove, closer to Quyon.

A woman at Michel Jr.'s house in Luskville threatened to call police if reporters didn't leave the property.

"Something like this only happens in Ottawa. The country is supposed to be quiet, isn't it?" said longtime neighbour Gail Findley. "Everybody has their own life.

"But they were good neighbours for us. They would watch our house when we were away and we would watch theirs when they were away.

"I cannot believe this. It is such a shame."

Copyright 1999 Ottawa Citizen