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TOP STORIES 2019: No arrests made in four out of five Chilliwack homicides this year

Only Shane Travis Hughes charged with killing Christine Denham in February
Homicide investigators were on scene Nov. 1, 2019 following the discovery of a body on the Soowahlie First Nation reserve off Sleepy Hollow Road near Cultus Lake, south of Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Christine Denham. Stanny Carr. James Vidal. Keith Baldwin. Jordan Smyth.

Five Chilliwack residents who were the victims of homicide in 2019, a number too high for a community this size but not a number out of line with the murder rate in recent years.

Obviously more people died in 2019 from motor vehicle accidents, opioid overdoses and cancer. But it is the terrible nature of homicide, be it the bald-faced premeditated planning that comes with a rare first-degree murder charge, the slightly less culpable second-degree murder charge, or the in-the-moment killing that comes with a manslaughter charge, that makes this the most heinous and dramatic of crimes in our justice system.

Christine Denham
On Feb. 26, there were reports of a shooting at a home on Victor Street in the downtown area. Christine Denham, 42, was declared to be in critical condition, but succumbed to her injuries on March 1, marking the first homicide of the year.

Denham’s killing, which is labelled a domestic homicide, is the only one for which an arrest was made. A few days after she died, 41-year-old Shane Travis Hughes was charged with second-degree murder. His case has proceeded slowly since then, with Hughes next due in court scheduled for arraignment on Jan. 13.

Stanny Carr
The second homicide of the year is, arguably, a 2018 killing. On March 6, 43-year-old Stanny Carr died from injuries she sustained seven months prior when she was gunned down in a vehicle on Woodbine Street after 3 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2018. It took weeks, but finally on March 26, the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) reported they were on the case. Since then, no arrests have been made.

Just four days after that homicide, 33-year-old James Vidal died of gunshot wounds at the scene of a shooting on Alexander Avenue. The incident was at approximately 6:30 a.m. on March 10. Vidal was well-known to police and while rumours circulated about who might have been involved, but no arrests have been made.

MarieAnne and Keith Baldwin
It was a peaceful spring and summer in Chilliwack on the homicide front. IHIT was not called town for seven months until Oct. 22 when 27-year-old Keith Matthew Baldwin was shot after midnight near Ruth & Naomi’s Mission. Baldwin, too, was known to police but his wife said while he had a history of troubles, he was cleaning up his life.

No arrests have been made.

• READ MORE: Wife of Chilliwack homicide victim says he was more than ‘known to police’

The fifth homicide of 2019 occurred when 26-year-old Jordan Christopher Smyth was found dead off a remote section of Sleepy Hollow Road on the Soowahlie Reserve near Cultus Lake. As with Vidal and Baldwin, IHIT reported that Smyth was known to police and his killing is said to be targeted.

No arrests have been made.

• READ MORE: Victim named in Halloween night homicide near Cultus Lake

In 2018 there were three homicides – Cody Isaacson, Zach Cross and Kyle Cromarty – all unsolved. In 2017, there were four, and only Kirkland Russell was convicted, and only of manslaughter. On March 6, 2019, Russell was sentenced to eight years in prison for killing Douglas Presseau, a man considered to be a Good Samaritan who was stabbed 14 times by Russell.

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IHIT has identified the victim of the March 10 homicide in Chilliwack as James Vidal. (Facebook)
Stanny Bernice Carr was shot on Aug. 8, 2018 in downtown Chilliwack. She died on March 6, 2019 in hospital and on March 26, IHIT declared the case to be a homicide. (Submitted)
Christine Denham was killed in a house in downtown Chilliwack on Feb. 26. Charged is Shane Travis Hughes. (Submitted)
Jordan Smyth was found dead on the Soowahlie Reserve near Cultus Lake on Nov. 1, 2019. (Facebook)
Keith Baldwin and his wife MarieAnne. Keith Baldwin, 27, was shot and killed downtown Chilliwack in the early hours of Oct. 22, 2019.