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.
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.
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.
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.
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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