01/08/2013 10:13 EST | Updated 03/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Montreal womens' groups decry handling of Pamela Jean case

Some womens' groups in Montreal say the death of Pamela Jean last week raises troubling questions about why police didn't act more quickly to protect her, when there were signs she could have been in danger.

The body of the 27-year-old single mother was found in the apartment of her ex-boyfriend in Montreal North on Jan. 4, several days after she was last seen on a street in downtown Montreal, where she had gone shopping on Dec. 30.

Juan Fermin Palma, 32, was charged with second degree murder in her death when he appeared in a Montreal courtroom on Monday.

Court documents show Palma had faced charges in the past related to domestic violence, but they were later dropped because Jean didn't want to testify.

Manon Monastesse of the Quebec Federation of Women's Shelters said that should have raised a red flag for the police officers who were investigating Jean's disappearance.

"The policeman who took the report should have...said, 'Well, there was a history of domestic violence, so it's a highly lethal situation. We have to search for her right away,'" Monastesse said.

Just last month, the provincial government launched an action plan to prevent conjugal violence, and Montreal police say they do have protocols to follow for the 15,000s call they receive annually which involve domestic abuse.

"Police officers have to evaluate which cases present a higher risk than other cases, and that's the same for missing persons calls," said police spokesman Vincent Richer. "We have to evaluate the risk."

"I was devastated," said Diane Sasson, who runs the Montreal shelter Auberge Shalom. "It is very discouraging and horrifying to think that today, with all of the protocols in place to try to ensure women's safety — all the shelters and the programs — that this can still happen."

Montreal police say they are reviewing Pamela Jean's case to see if those protocols were followed and what more could have been done, if anything.