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Slain woman had described harassment, threats by husband

Michelle Kane, who was stabbed Saturday, said her husband had 'threatened to slice my throat' and alleged a long history of drug abuse. Michael Kane was arrested Monday in Joshua Tree.

June 18, 2013|By Jean Merl and Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

A woman who was stabbed to death trying to flee her estranged husband in a quiet suburban neighborhood gave chilling accounts of harassment, threats and her deepening fears, according to documents filed in her divorce case.

Michelle Ann Kane, 43, in April was granted a partial temporary restraining order against her husband of nearly 12 years and was seeking a more comprehensive domestic violence restraining order, scheduled for a hearing June 28.

"'Go ahead and get a restraining order,'" she said her estranged husband told her after "threatening to have me whacked."

"It won't protect you, but it will make you feel better," he added, according to a court document she filed April 24.

On Saturday morning, a day after telling police she feared for her safety and sought refuge with her two small children in the West Hills home of friends, Michelle Kane died on the street as she tried to outrun her attacker. She was stabbed multiple times.

Police said Michael Rodney Kane found out where his wife was staying and pushed his way into the home as his wife hid in a bathroom with their small children. Michelle Kane ran from the house, but police say Michael Kane caught up with her and stabbed her repeatedly.

Michael Kane, a teacher at a Tarzana elementary school, drove off before police arrived, touching off a manhunt that ended with his arrest early Monday morning at a Joshua Tree motel. Kane, who has no previous criminal record, is expected to be arraigned on murder charges this week.

In a court document seeking the restraining order, Michelle Kane laid out some of the "numerous threats" and malicious acts she said her husband had committed with increasing frequency since she filed for divorce in December, after nearly 12 years of marriage.

Michelle Kane said her husband once "threatened to slice my throat" and when they met up in April at a Target for a visitation meeting, he threw their son's ice cream at her. At other times, she wrote, he "has threatened to kill me with piano wire and an ice pick."

She described what she said was her husband's "long history of drug abuse" and suspected that he "has an undiagnosed bipolar disorder." She alleged he had used heroin and methamphetamine in the past and was hospitalized last year "due to his suicidal thoughts brought on by what I believe to have been a combination of stress and drug use."

She also said that her husband stopped seeing a psychiatrist soon after his release from the hospital and that she believed he was abusing alcohol and not taking his prescription medications.

After the couple separated and Michael Kane moved to an apartment, Michael Kane came to the family's West Hills home in early April and repeatedly rang the doorbell in the middle of the night. He eventually left but later called and "threatened to kill me," she said.

She said many of his threats were made in front of their children, a 6-year-old girl and a boy who turned 2 last month.

One of Michael Kane's neighbors said she had sometimes heard him through the common wall they shared, yelling or laughing on the telephone, or saw him outside smoking. But typically he seemed "cool and collected."

"If something was going on in his life, it wasn't really expressed through the walls," Leah Fowler said.

Attorney Steve Mindel said his firm's family law team advised Michelle Kane to "take all necessary precautions available to her with regard to the restraining order we were able to obtain on her behalf."

Police said they took two reports from Michelle Kane, both on June 14, one a violation of a temporary restraining order and, later in the day, an act of vandalism in which someone had smashed windows at her home.

"Our officers were very diligent in documenting all of the incidents that were brought to our attention," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith. "Our officers made a great effort to protect the victim, but the law limits what we can do.

"But tragically, incidents like this sometimes occur."

On Monday, members of Michelle Kane's family issued a statement thanking friends for their concern and asking that their privacy be respected as they focus on her children: "Michelle was a wonderful mother, who loved her children deeply and did everything she could to protect them."

Times staff writers Emily Foxhall, Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather contributed to this report.

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