Timeline to a tragedy: New details on Janzen murders

Coroner's report reveals timeline behind murders, confirms Rosedale man confessed to murder before killing himself

An Emergency Response Team surrounded the Janzen family home on a quiet street in Rosedale last May

An Emergency Response Team surrounded the Janzen family home on a quiet street in Rosedale last May

A shockingly violent day in Rosedale last May left the community grieving, and wondering what led to the death of four people in the same family.

Now, a series of coroner’s reports have been released that chronicle the events leading up to the deaths of Randy Janzen, along with his wife Laurel, his 19-year-old daughter Emily, and his sister, Shelley. The reports confirm that Randy was the person who killed the three women, just as he had confessed on Facebook.

At about noon on May 7, 2015, Randy posted numerous, lengthy confessions on the social media site, explaining in detail that he couldn’t watch his daughter in pain anymore and had killed her. Emily, a talented local musician, had been suffering from migraines for about a year and a half. He admitted to killing her, his wife and then his sister. The date of Emily and Laurel’s deaths is believed to be April 28, based on the timeline provided in the confession and the advanced state of decomposition of the bodies. The date of Shelley’s death, at her home in Langley, is believed to be May 5.

Moments after he posted the confessions, friends started contacting the RCMP. Shortly after that, an Emergency Response Team along with fire, police and ambulance crews surrounded the family’s Rosedale home. At 7:20 p.m. that evening, a man identified as Randy Janzen was noticed through one of the windows of the home. While police tried to make contact with someone inside the home, that never happened. A large fire erupted shortly after Janzen was seen, and members of the ERT briefly entered the home to attempt to rescue any occupants. The fire was too intense and they had to retreat, but they had noticed one body wrapped in a sheet on the main floor.

The fire destroyed the home, and it wasn’t deemed safe to enter for a full three days. When the Identification and Disaster Response Unit of the BC Coroners Service entered the home on May 10, they found the bodies of Emily, Laurel and Randy in three different locations.

Both women had been shot twice, and Randy had died of a self-inflicted gunshot from a long barrel gun. Shelley was killed with two shots as well. Her body was found on May 7, covered in blankets on the floor of her home.

BC Coroner Timothy Wiles mentions the family’s long struggle with migraines in the report, but does not make any recommendations in that regard.

“These migraines were cited by her father as a potential source of psycho-social stress for both Ms. Janzen and her father,” Wiles wrote. “Her father’s confession further suggested that these migraines had negatively impacted Ms. Janzen’s quality of life. As this history was stated as a potential motive for her homicide, it was thoroughly explored.”

Wiles reports that Randy Janzen was not seeing a psychiatrist at the time of his death, and there is no known history of either homicidal or suicidal ideation. In 2014, Janzen did report mild sleep disturbances and psycho-social stress to his family doctor, and attributed it to the stress of the ongoing care of his daughter and her battle with chronic migraines.

At the time of their deaths, Laurel Janzen had been using social media to reach out for help, too.

“Watching someone I love in unbearable pain everyday for 18 months and I feel helpless,” she wrote on Twitter, adding: #weneedhelp.

One of Emily’s last Tweets was just as haunting.

“Whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, I just thank God I’m still alive,” she said. “I complain about all the pain, but at least I’m here to feel it.”

It was announced shortly after the deaths that the BC Coroner’s Office would be investigating.

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