Last month’s shocking murders in Anahim Lake have resulted in six charges being laid against four men and two women.
Just before midnight on December 26, 2014, the Anahim Lake RCMP received a report of gunshots fired at a home in the 2100 block of Dorsey Road where Matthew Hennigar, 23, and Kalvin Andy, 22, were discovered deceased.
The brutal crime has brought grieving to multiple families, relatives, and friends of both the deceased and those charged. Many of the accused are from Bella Coola or have strong ties to the community.
Everett O’Reilly, 27, is charged with two counts first-degree murder. Charged with two counts of second-degree murder are Serena Rhem, 26, Andrew Jongbloets, 25, and Christian Craciun, 28. Lucille Mack, 33, and Steven Mecham, 22, have been charged with two counts of manslaughter using a firearm.
As the incident is now before the courts, RCMP are releasing very few details about the crime but they did issue a statement looking for information on the whereabouts of O’Reilly, Rhem, Jongbloets, and Craciun from the time of the murders to their apprehension the following morning.
All those arrested and those killed were known to one another, although their relationships and the motive for the killings are still under investigation.
The leadership of both the Nuxalk and Ulkatcho Nations has asked for privacy for the families and therefore little is being said publicly about the victims.
Both Hennigar and Andy were born in Bella Coola and raised alongside one another as their parents were close friends. Hennigar resided in Anahim Lake where Andy often visited him; such was the case over the Christmas holidays.
Eulogies depicted the two as “good friends” who enjoyed the same activities. They were described as similar in nature “both quiet and kind-hearted boys with a great love for the outdoors, adventure, and mechanics.” Hennigar’s obituary described how he hunted his first moose at age 11, and Andy’s obituary spoke of his love of fishing, especially with his grandparents. Hennigar leaves behind a 14-month old son.
With the exception of Lucille Mack, all of the accused have prior charges or convictions: some of them lengthy.
O’Reilly, whose legal name is Bryan Everett, has prior convictions for robbery, stealing a vehicle, assault causing bodily harm and mischief.
Andrew Jongbloets has 60 convictions dating back to 2007 including uttering threats, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and break and enter. Almost all of these convictions are from Port Coquitlam and Vancouver.
Rhem pled guilty this month in Abbotsford to possession for the purpose of trafficking, possessing a prohibited weapon and possession of a controlled substance and will be sentenced at a later date. Mecham and Craciun each have minor convictions relating to driving offenses and theft, respectively.
All of the accused have since made preliminary court appearances on their recent charges. Mecham has since been released on a $5000 bail. Mack’s bail had not been completed as of press time. A publication ban has now been imposed on the case.
Understandably, the crime has shaken both communities to the core. In a joint press release both Nations asked for privacy as they begin to focus on healing.
“The Ulkatcho and Nuxalk Nations are working together to heal from this tragic event. We are asking media to respect our wishes for privacy and space in this time of healing,” said Ulkatcho Nation Chief Zach Parker. “We are thankful for our strong partnerships and all those who have supported us, and hope to share our story with other Nations on the path of healing from events like this in the future.”
Both communities are receiving crisis support bringing together community leadership and health liaisons, staff from Interior Health Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, First Nations Emergency Services, Provincial Health Services Authority’s BC Provincial Emergency Disaster Psychosocial Program, and RCMP Victim Services to ensure public safety and counseling services are available at the community level.
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Crisis Response Protocol and mental health service coordination were enacted quickly on the ground in both communities soon after the event.
“Our hearts are with the Ulkatcho and Nuxalk communities,” said Dr. Evan Adams, Chief Medical Officer with the First Nations Health Authority. “When events like this happen, all families are impacted, and we are eager to help as best we can over the coming while.”
Family members and local Chiefs have stated they will continue to focus their energies on community priorities related to supporting the families impacted and at this time will not be speaking with media.