David van den Brink’s is scheduled to go on trial this July for the murder of Wells Tony Gallagher.
While police managed to arrest van den Brink very shortly after the downtown Langley City stabbing, other murders in this community have proved more difficult to solve.
Since 2009, there have been seven unsolved murders in Langley, the majority of them seemingly linked to organized crime.
Despite the length of time involved, all but one of the investigations are still open, said Sgt. Stephanie Ashton, spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
“When you consider the seriousness of this task, there is no time limit attached to success, it takes as long as is necessary to ensure the investigation is thorough,” Ashton said.
There is no formula for how often older cases are reviewed, Ashton said.
“In each investigation, there is a primary investigator who is responsible for the speed flow and direction of the file,” Ashton said. “They must be accountable for their activities in relation to their investigation. They also maintain contact with the victim’s family members, but again how often that occurs varies with each file and each family.
The most recent unsolved murder in Langley was the killing of Kevin Brunelle, 36.
On the afternoon of Jan. 22 this year, the Langley RCMP were called to a room at the Langley Hotel where Brunelle’s body had been found.
Brunelle had been found in the alley behind the hotel the previous afternoon, having been assaulted. He was helped back to his room. When someone came to check on him the following afternoon, he had died.
IHIT investigators were looking into what had happened to Brunelle in the hours leading up to his assault on Jan. 21.
Ashton provided brief updates on the other six unresolved killings.
The murders had some elements in common. Several were described as targeted slayings, and in most cases the victims had criminal backgrounds.
• Stephen Robert Guzzo, found Sept. 23 in a burned-out Camaro on railroad tracks north of 96th Avenue in Walnut Grove. Guzzo was not positively identified until 2010.
Ashton said that police believe Guzzo was “engaging in criminal behaviour at the time of his death.”
The investigation remains active, Ashton said, but no new information has come to light recently.
• Jeremy Bettan, shot to death in the driveway of his Walnut Grove home on Dec. 26, 2011.
Ashton could not comment on whether Bettan was linked to gang activity, but did confirm IHIT believes it was a targeted event.
• Korey Tyler Kelly, killed near 16th Avenue and 272nd Street on March 10, 2012, after allegedly trying to rob a marijuana grow operation.
“This matter is no longer under investigation. There have been no charges in relation to the death of Korey Kelly,” said Ashton.
Two people were initially arrested linked to the grow operation, but Ashton could not confirm that the killing was determined to be in self-defense or not.
• Gorden Spence and Bruce Mayo, both shot in a home on Glover Road near Milner on June 23, 2012.
Both men had criminal pasts, but they died in what was described at the time as a “melee,” and at least five other people were in the home during the killings.
“The investigation is active,” said Ashton “however there are challenges related to uncooperative witnesses.”
• David Thanh Lam, whose body was found burned at the bottom of a hill in the 24700 block of 64th Avenue on Nov. 25, 2014.
Aside from saying it was a targeted homicide, Ashton could not speak about Lam’s murder.
“This matter is an active investigation, however to get into anything more specific could jeopardize the efforts of investigators,” she said.
When it comes to new information from the public, IHIT is always open to hearing tips.
“We always encourage the public to provide us with information, and when they don’t want to be identified or wish to remain anonymous we encourage them to contact CrimeStoppers,” Ashton said.
The IHIT tip line is 1-877-551-4448 and CrimeStoppers can be reached at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).