Murder investigators have arrested 23-year-old Jesse River Hill, of Surrey, in the killing of 21-year-old Taylor Johnson, found shot to death in a South Langley home earlier this year.
Hill was charged Thursday afternoon with second degree murder, break and enter with intent, disguise with intent, and discharging a firearm with intent.
The killing was random and Johnson did not know the suspect, said Sgt. Jennifer Pound, spokesperson for IHIT.
“It was a senseless act that tragically took the life of Taylor,” she said.
Taylor was looking after a house in the 2000 block of 200th Street in Langley’s Fernridge neighbourhood. The home contained a marijuana grow operation.
His body was found there on Feb. 26, after a call to the RCMP to check on his well being.
Pound said police believe the murder was the result of the suspect trying to steal the crop of pot.
“This has changed everything in our lives,” said Wendy Johnson, Taylor’s step-mother. “It is an open wound that is very raw,” she added.
Taylor came from a large family and had five siblings. His biological mother died of cancer when Taylor was a young boy. His father Paul is the lead pastor at the South Delta Baptist Church. The family moved to Canada from Arizona in 2007.
Paul said the family is already beginning to extend forgiveness to those responsible for Taylor’s death.
“I don’t think there’s any value in hatred or carrying around bitterness,” said Paul.
The family does want to see justice done, Paul said, and they thanked IHIT, the various police departments including the Langley RCMP and Delta PD.
But as Christians they want to see the perpetrators change their ways and “get right with God,” Paul said.
“We hope that they find Jesus through this event,” he said.
Police are not saying much about the circumstances surrounding how Taylor came to be looking after a home with a marijuana grow op inside.
“Taylor was a good kid,” said Pound. “He was naive, and he made a bad decision that ultimately cost him his life.”
Taylor’s family described him as a gentle young man who was trusting and caring of others.
Pound said there have not been any other arrests linked to the marijuana grow op itself.
The scene of the murder was an ostensibly empty house, but immediately after the killing, a neighbour said that there had been a man in his 40s or 50s living there until recently. The grass was cut and trees trimmed, and the driveway gate was always padlocked, the neighbour said.
The police have not ruled out the possibility that others may be arrested in the case, Pound said.
“Evidence is still coming in,” she said.
@ Copyright 2013