In the quieter moments of the day, Jenny McKay would write in her diary.

After studying journalism at university, Jenny, 33, had a natural talent with words.

She’d write poems that her loved ones adored.

But they had no clue of the dark secrets she shared in her journal about how she feared her husband Jason and the arguments they were having.

‘He said he was going to make my life a living hell and bury me the way I’ve buried him,’ she wrote. Jenny was frightened.

It was August 2017, and the home the couple shared in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan in Canada, was a hotbed of tension.

After marrying in 2012, they struggled to build a life together.

Jason McKay had two children from a previous relationship and even they later admitted it was a fractured marriage.

Jenny’s family in Nova Scotia thought she was happy as she rarely visited and, if she did, McKay would come with her. They now realise it was a sign of his controlling behaviour.

Jenny had a big laugh and a smile to match. She was artistic, creative and compassionate. She loved cooking, gardening, music and art. Her siblings were just waiting for her to find her calling in life.

They didn’t know that Jenny was writing in her diary about the verbal and physical abuse she was suffering. But she did tell somebody. She confided in friends that she was in an abusive marriage and admitted she was trying to leave McKay.

‘He hits me a lot,’ she said in a text to one former colleague. ‘I’m done.’

Jason McKay was taking antidepressants and sleeping tablets, as well as drinking heavily, which Jenny said turned him into a ‘monster’.

Witnesses had seen him hit her, and she looked into renting a room to escape. By the end of the month the police were involved. On August 27, Jenny called 911 to say McKay was drunk and abusive.

She said she wanted him removed from the house as he was threatening his teenage daughters. When the police arrived, Jenny didn’t want to make a formal complaint.

She admitted to an officer she didn’t feel safe and was looking for an exit plan. Jason McKay agreed to go to a neighbour’s house but he returned, so Jenny called 911 again.

She told the operator she was scared her husband was going to hurt her. ‘He’s going to break in here,’ she cried. ‘He’s going to kill me.’ Jenny said McKay was drunk and banging on the door to be let in.

When they arrived, police agreed they would take him to his mother’s home. While in the back of the car, he started to threaten the officer and his wife.

‘I’m not abusive but I’ll ‘f***ing smack her in the head,’ he was heard yelling. He was arrested and spent the night in a cell. When McKay went back the next day and climbed in through the window of his home, Jenny called 911 again.

He agreed to go back to his mum’s – and complained she would call the cops on him to ‘get him into trouble’.

Despite the police being called to their home three times in two days, the root of the problem was never addressed. Sadly, help for victims of domestic abuse was limited in the area, so her calls to the police were perhaps her only way to cry for help.

Days later, on September 6, Jason McKay’s mum told police she was concerned about her son after a late-night call he’d made. She said she feared he was suicidal. Police returned to the house again – but this time it was a very different scene.

When officers arrived, they were met by McKay who was covered in blood. When he was asked where his wife was, he replied, ‘She’s dead. I f***ing killed her.’

Police went into the kitchen and found Jenny on her back, covered in blood with a large knife sticking out of her chest. Officers would later describe the scene as ‘gruesome’.

McKay had stabbed his wife dozens of times, with several knives, to the neck and chest. Officers found pictures on his phone of her lifeless body, revealing he’d taken photos of his injured wife, and he admitted he’d spent two hours with her body.

Further examination showed he’d stabbed her more times when she was already dead. There were more than 20 stab wounds and the neck injuries were the ones that proved fatal.

McKay was arrested. ‘I already know I’m charged for murder ’cause she’s dead. Dead,’ he was heard saying. ‘There’s so much blood in there it’s not even funny.’

He even threatened his mum afterwards. ‘You’re next,’ he told her.

During the investigation, the 911 calls and the diary entries were brought into evidence. It was a tragic timeline that documented the path to Jenny’s death. Her family were shocked at the level of fear she was experiencing within her marriage.

In January this year, McKay, 47, pleaded not guilty to second degree murder. It was a judge-only trial so they would listen to the arguments and decide his fate.

McKay admitted he had stabbed his wife, but his defence argued he was too intoxicated to form intent because of the combination of antidepressants and alcohol that he’d consumed. They said he would have had no comprehension of the consequences.

McKay testified and said after his first sip of wine, at 8pm that night, he’d entered a ‘blackout state’ then had hallucinations. He said he recalled Jenny on top of him with a 20-inch dagger in her hand, dressed in a black cloak.

The next memory was of Jenny on the floor bleeding in her pink shirt. ‘I heard voices telling me to kill her, she has no heart,’ he said – and that’s what he’d done.

When it came to his blackout state, police said he didn’t seem confused or heavily intoxicated at the crime scene. The prosecution said McKay had killed his wife through ‘malice and anger’ and was using the blackout excuse to get a lesser conviction.

Jenny’s family had to listen to extracts from her diary. She had once used her words to pursue her dreams of being a writer, now they described the suffering she was going through.

They had to listen as the judge was informed of the multiple knives found at the scene. Some had broken with the force McKay had used. There was also bruising around Jenny’s face and head.

‘Jason McKay could only have intended one thing,’ they said, and made reference to a comment that he had made after his arrest: ‘It’ll be the last time she ***** with me.’

After a three-week trial, the judge found McKay guilty of second-degree murder. The judge said his testimony about gaps in his memory was contradicted by the evidence and seriously eroded his credibility.

‘I find his evidence is plagued by inconsistencies,’ he said, pointing out the biggest contradiction was how McKay described his relationship with Jenny as positive. The judge said that account was ‘not grounded in reality’.

At the sentencing in July, Jenny’s family had a chance to speak out. Jenny’s dad Doug Campbell, a former pastor, said he had comforted many families over their losses but never expected it to happen to his own daughter.

He spoke about McKay’s betrayal via phone to the court. ‘He was supposed to love and protect her, instead he threatened her, abused her and butchered her,’ he said.

Jenny’s mum Glenda said, ‘My heart has become numb of the time and I feel like if I allow myself to fully feel, I will never stop crying.’ She spoke about being left with just photographs and how she longs to crawl into them to be with her daughter.

Glenda said she will never find closure. ‘For me, the crime started long before her murder,’ she said, referring to Jenny spending years being ‘beaten down’.

McKay made a statement via video link. He spoke of his mental health struggles and asked to be sent to a psychiatric centre. ‘I am sorry for the erratic, horrific tragedy and I am very remorseful,’ he said. He said he loved his wife and missed her.

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The judge took into account McKay’s three previous assault charges, one 20 years old, and his behaviour leading up to Jenny’s death.

He had continued to stab his wife even when she was dead and made shocking statements to officers. The judge sentenced him to life in prison, eligible for parole only after 17 years.

Jenny’s obituary shared the quote ‘I am not afraid of the storm, for I am learning to sail my ship’, which was a saying she’d lived by. But when the storm came in the form of her husband’s rage, there was no escape for Jenny.