MarieAnne Baldwin had an idea of what she was in for when she married a man with a history of addictions.
But she loved Keith Baldwin for who he was, for his kindness, his musical talents, his urge to care for others.
With more questions than answers, MarieAnne is left in the aftermath of Chilliwack’s fourth homicide of the year, left wondering what could have been with what became a tumultuous relationship.
She is left without a husband.
Keith Baldwin was shot in the head in the early hours of Oct. 22, 2019 in area of Yale Road and Fletcher Street in downtown Chilliwack.
When he was found by a security guard, he was alone. He wasn’t dead, but he was only kept alive on life support for a short period of time so that friends and family could say goodbye.
If there were any witnesses, they were long gone and aren’t talking, at least not yet. The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is on the case. By Nov. 8, IHIT had no updates in the case and no one had been arrested.
The identity of the shooting victim from #ChilliwackBC is 27yo Keith Baldwin. Keith was placed on life support in hospital but has since died of his injury. We are asking anyone who has info of what Keith was doing the night of Monday Oct21st to please give us a call.
— IHIT (@HomicideTeam) October 24, 2019
As police departments everywhere often do after a homicide, the RCMP used two terms used as a shorthand code to reassure the general public that there is no danger. That is, they said that Keith Baldwin “was known to police” and that his killing was “targeted.”
And while MarieAnne said she didn’t have a problem with the “known to police” line, some friends and family were quite upset by it. The label can be a gross oversimplification, lumping in violent gang leaders with anyone who has a criminal record.
“He was known to police,” MarieAnne told The Progress during a recent interview. “But he did clean up his life.”
MarieAnne and Keith met while working for a landscaping company in Abbotsford about a decade ago. Keith had a tumultuous teen life with a rough crowd in Surrey.
“Everyone on his block had a criminal record, everyone,” MarieAnne said.
Keith got arrested for various things as a youth. Stealing cars, even breaking in to a bakery once. Then newly an adult in 2011, he was convicted of mischief, theft under $5,000, dangerous operation of a vehicle, possession of stolen property, even robbery.
But that was all in 2011 and he had no criminal charges after that, for an entire eight years up until his death.
He went to a faith-based addiction treatment centre, Adult & Teen Challenge in Yarrow. He and MarieAnne got married, they went to church together, and his life was turning around.
Three years later, in 2015, his father wasn’t returning messages so Keith went over to see what was wrong.
“He found his dad dead,” MarieAnne said. “He drank himself to death. That was pretty traumatic for him.”
Keith relapsed and began binge drinking again. But MarieAnne said that he always managed to get himself back on track.
Then in 2016 his childhood friend was gunned down in Surrey. Keith was no longer in touch with Sean Kelly who had become a gangster but, again, more trauma.
“At that funeral he reconnected with everyone from his past,” MarieAnne recalled. “I remember feeling unsafe at that funeral.”
Since then, Keith and MarieAnne stayed married, tried to make it work through the ups and downs of a life that included multiple traumas while dealing with a substance use problem. In May of this year, Keith went back to treatment, this time at Adult & Teen Challenge in the Okanagan. After a while he had to leave because of a back injury meant he couldn’t work, which is a requirement of the program.
Back in Chilliwack, MarieAnne spoke to him almost daily, but she kept her distance, not wanting to know who he was hanging around with, what exactly he was doing.
“We were in contact every day,” she said. “I was willing to work on things, but I wanted him to get back to Teen Challenge. I never knew what he was up to.”
MarieAnne and Keith went to Vineyard Community Church on Oct. 20, the last time MarieAnne saw her husband.
“He didn’t seem to be doing well, but he didn’t seem to be using,” she said. “I couldn’t tell. But he was clearly not hanging out with the right people.”
What happened late on Oct. 21 and past midnight on Oct. 22 is a total mystery to MarieAnne, and something IHIT is trying to understand. Was he partying? Was he possibly helping someone?
“Even at his worst he was helping people,” she said, recounting a time when she saw him without shoes. He explained to her that he gave his shoes to a girl who didn’t have any.
“He made everybody feel like somebody. He was just so kind to everybody…. When he was using he was scary, but when he wasn’t he was a teddy bear, so kind and always helping people. He was just a really amazing human and he really cared for just random people on the street.”
MarieAnne knew that Keith wanted to be good, to get better, and he wanted to patch things up with her.
“He really wanted me to be his wife still.”
MarieAnne was asked what she might say to Keith before he died, if she could.
“I always told him when he wasn’t doing well, you become who you hang out with. You have dead friends, don’t get involved with those people.
“I definitely didn’t want him to die.”
Keith Baldwin wasn’t just “known to police.” He was known to love his car and his drums.
Keith Baldwin was known and loved by friends and family, and by his wife.
His family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Adult & Teen Challenge Society of B.C.
IHIT asks that anyone with information about Keith Baldwin’s killing to contact IHIT’s information line at 1-877-551-4448 or by email at email@example.com.