This week, The Times is taking a look back at the events that helped shape the past year.
From the widely unexpected results of May’s provincial election (and its repercussions for the Langleys) to the people we lost — both pioneers, who lived long and fruitful lives and a pair of young men who were taken too soon — 2013 was a year of ups and downs.
A trio of fatalities made 2013 one of the worst years for fire deaths in recent memory.
The Township meanwhile, found itself at the centre of two major development controversies in 2013, while the criminal element didn’t appear to distinguish between the two municipalities.
And a Langley father of three took desperate measures in his fight to stay in Canada.
Of course, it wasn’t all gloom and doom, as tens of thousands once again gathered in Langley City’s downtown core for the annual Good Times Cruise In, the annual Langley Has Talent competition helped a young mother and aspiring opera singer move one step closer to realizing her dream and a group of children did their part for the environment by planting saplings at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.
Unlike its neighbour to the west, Langley was not plagued with a record number of murders in 2013.
However the violent death of a young man at a Fernridge grow-op once again drove home the dangers inherent in any sort of involvement with drugs.
Twenty-one-year-old Taylor Johnson, the son of Delta pastor Paul Johnson, was found shot to death on Feb. 26 in a 200 Street home which housed a marijuana grow-op. Johnson was the caretaker of the grow-op and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said the motive for the murder was a grow rip.
In October, police made an arrest in the killing. Jesse River Hill, 23, of Surrey was arrested and faces a second degree murder charge in the death of Johnson.
He also faces charges of break and enter with intent, disguise with intent and discharge of a firearm with intent.
New Year’s Eve Shooting
Less than two months earlier, in the early morning hours of Dec. 31, 2012, Cole Manning, 40, was shot to death in a Willoughby basement suite.
After leading police on a short pursuit Jason Brewer, 24, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Brewer, who police called a “friend” of Manning’s, was on probation for assaulting his mother with a knife at the time of his arrest, and in October pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in relation to a car crash that permanently injured two people.
A trial date has yet to be set for charges related to the murder.
Body Found at Hi-Knoll
Police warned sex-trade workers to be extra cautious after a women’s body was found dumped in a park near the Surrey-Langley border on Oct. 31.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) identified the victim, found at Hi-Knoll Park, as Lisa Ann Zielke, 41, of Surrey.
Investigators said she was living a high-risk lifestyle, was drug-dependent, and was actively working as a sex-trade worker.
An arrest has not yet been made in the case.
Antone Murder Suspect Arrested
In late November, an arrest was made in the March, 2011 murder of George Antone.
Michelle Serdar, 42, was arrested in Quebec City on Nov. 26 and returned to the Lower Mainland to face charges in the shooting death of the Kwantlen elder.
Speaking on behalf of the Kwantlen people, Tumia Knott thanked investigators and said the arrest brings the community one step closer to closure as they continue to pray for justice and resolution.
Jepsen Cyber Attacker Pleads Guilty
Crimes involving cyber attacks on Mission pop star Carly Rae Jepsen earned Abbotsford’s David Long, 25, four months’ house arrest and one year of probation in September.
In the first case of its kind in Canada,the provincial court heard that Long began hacking into Jepsen’s email and social media accounts in March 2012, changing passwords, posting vulgar messages, downloading material such as Jepsen’s recording contract and tour schedule, and even sent two “sensitive and highly personal” photos to celebrity gossip website, TMZ.
Long pleaded guilty to charges of mischief to data and possession of stolen property.
Swimming Goggle Rapist Sought
The sexual assaults of two teenagers shook Langley last summer in a pair of incidents that RCMP say were likely perpetrated by the same man.
On June 22 a 16-year-old girl was waiting for a bus in Brookswood when a man in a silver hatchback pulled up and ordered her to get in. He drove her to the Christian Life Assembly parking lot, sexually assaulted her at knifepoint and then dropped her off at the Logan Avenue bus loop.
Two months later, on Aug. 20, a 19-year-old was attacked from behind while walking near Douglas Park. She was pushed to the ground and raped at knifepoint. The suspect, who wore swimming goggles during the attack, took her purse and iPod and fled on a bicycle.
Based on the victim’s description, police believe it may be the same man responsible for the June attack.
Woman Flees Rapist
In late July, a 28-year-old Surrey sex trade worker was picked up by a john in Surrey and held against her will, choked and raped after being driven into rural Langley.
A struggle ensued while the suspect was driving and his vehicle veered into a ditch. The woman managed to escape and run to a nearby house, whose residents called 911 for her.
The suspect was arrested moments later standing by his car in the ditch. Surrey resident James Kovach, 27, is facing several serious charges, including attempting to choke to overcome.
A fatal hit-and-run stunned Langley Aug. 7 when police learned that the alleged driver involved was an RCMP-hired consultant, working on recreating another fatal crash that killed Surrey RCMP Const. Adrian Oliver in November 2012. At the time police said it appeared the consultant didn’t stop to render assistance after the collision, but kept driving instead.