Shortly after 12:15PM on the 7th of May, 2015, Randy Janzen from Rosedale, British Columbia, Canada, posted a very ominous message on his Facebook account. It read in part:
“Over the last 10 days, I have done some of the worst things I could have ever imagined a person doing. First to do with my dear, sweet loving daughter Emily. The best little girl two parents could ever hope for. She was talented and smart and filled out hearts with her laughter. She was always willing to help with a smile even when she was feeling lousy.”
Randy went on to explain that his 19-year-old daughter, Emily, had stopped doing almost everything she enjoyed in life due to migraines. He said that she had missed two years of university and she had suffered from depression because of her migraines. He chillingly wrote: “Emily had tried everything to get better but nothing seemed to help her. I took a gun and shot her in the head and now she is migraine free and floating in the clouds on a sunny afternoon, her long beautiful brown hair flowing in the breeze, a true angel.”
Speaking of his wife, Laurel, he wrote: “Then I shot Laurel because a mother should never have to hear the news her baby has died.” Randy said that a couple of days later, he shot and killed his sister, Shelly, because he did not want her to have to live with the shame of what he had done.”
When a friend noticed the disturbing Facebook post, he immediately contacted authorities who embarked on the family home in Llanberries Way. They set up a 150-metre perimeter around the family’s home and closed off the street. They had been unable to get into the residence as Randy was inside and there was a fear that he was armed and dangerous. A SWAT team arrived on scene armed with assault rifles while other officers shouted at Randy to surrender and come outside.
At around 7PM, a loud pop could be heard and then the house exploded with Randy inside. Moments later, black smoke emanated from the home. Firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the flames.1 Inside, police found the lifeless bodies of Emily, Laurel and Randy, who had set a fire and then ended his own life. The second crime scene was discovered at the 25000 block of 271A, where Randy’s sister, Shelly, lived.2
Emily had been a former student and instructor at the Chilliwack School of Performing Arts. They would post a tribute in her honour which read: “We will fondly remember her bright smile, beautiful voice and amazing spirit. She will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to all her friends and family.” She had been very well-known in the local arts community and her name had been featured in the arts pages of the Times on numerous occasions, most recently when she won outstanding supporting actress for her role as Greta in Chilliwack School of Performing Arts show Leave of Absence at the Fraser Valley Zone Festival just the spring beforehand.3
Sadly, Emily had suffered from migraines since elementary school and they were holding her back from her lifelong ambition of becoming an opera star. As recently as the 22nd of April, her mother had posted information from a migraine support group on her Facebook page. Emily herself had posted quite frequently about her ordeal.
On the 24th of April, she posted on Twitter: “Whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, I just thank God I’m still alive. I complain about all the pain, but at least I’m here to feel it.” The month beforehand, she posted that no doctor could figure out what was wrong with her before posting: “Life is the biggest waste of time.” While some of her posts were despaired, she still posted about optimism. “Never give up, it always gets better,” she wrote three weeks before she was killed by her father.4
Laurel had been a massive support for her daughter and she too was a frequent social media user and often took to it to share her despair over her daughter’s ailments. She had written on Twitter on the 9th of March: “Watching someone I love in unbearable pain everyday for 18 months and I feel helpless.”
A couple of days after the murders, over 100 members of Bethel Mennonite would gather to honour the memory of the three victims. Shelly had been a member of the church since the day she was born. Those who knew her said that she had a gentle spirit and was a massive animal lover. She had worked as a newspaper carrier for the Langley Times and it was a job she thoroughly enjoyed. Shelley had cared for her mother who passed away the year beforehand. The Janzen family were longtime residents of Langley and were well-known in the area. Randy and Shelly’s parents were founding members of Bethel Mennonite Church, located on 56 Avenue. Shelly was exceptionally close with Randy and his family.5
Following the murder-suicide, much of the nation recoiled in horror. The fact that Randy could kill his entire family and then post about it in such a public forum in a bid to justify it was truly disturbing. He had even signed it off with “Love Daddio,” which was his signature nickname. His friend, Brian Jones, said that Randy deeply loved his daughter but he was consumed by the thought that she was suffering because of her migraines. “It consumed him,” he said. “It really did…”6 All of Randy’s friends said that they couldn’t reconcile the man they knew with the man who had committed such a barbaric crime.
The following year, a series of coroner’s reports into the murder-suicide would be released which chronicled the events leading up to the tragedy. While Randy had posted his confession on Facebook on the 7th of May, it was believed that Emily and Laurel were murdered by Randy on the 28th of April. The coroner had reached this conclusion based both on Randy’s confession and the state of decomposition both bodies were found in. They believed that Shelly was murdered on the 5th of May.
The fire had completely engulfed the family’s home, making it impossible to enter until three days later. Inside, they found the bodies of Emily, Laurel and Randy in three different locations within the home. Both Emily and Laurel had been shot twice and Randy had died from a self-inflicted gunshot from a long barrel gun. He was found in bed with the charred remains of the weapon resting between his leges. Shelly was also found with two gunshot wounds. Her body had been covered in blankets on the floor of her home.
The coroner mentioned Emily’s migraines but did not make any recommendation in that regard. He reported that Randy was not seeing a psychiatrist at the time of the murder-suicide and there was no known history of homicidal or suicidal ideation. In 2014, he had reported mild sleep disturbances as well as psycho-social stress to his family doctor and he attributed the stress to the migraines that Emily had been suffering.7
- The Chilliwack Progress, 7 May, 2015 – “Gunfire, Explosion Rocks East Chilliwack Neighbourhood”
- Langley Times, 8 May, 2015 – “Aldergrove Woman’s Home Part of Tragic Family Murder-Suicide”
- Chilliwack Times, 8 May, 2015 – “Triple Murder and Suicide Ended in Chilliwack, One Body Found in Langley”
- 24 Hours, 11 May, 2015 – “Murdered B.C. Woman Had Tweeted About Migraine Pain”
- Langley Times, 11 May, 2015 – “There is not Anger, Just Sadness”
- The Toronto Star, 11 May, 2015 – “Daughter’s Suffering Consumed Dad, Friend Says”
- The Chilliwack Progress, 8 March, 2016 – “Timeline to a Tragedy”