Five years after the body of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry – a sport and community advocate from one of Vancouver's most prominent families – was discovered in a popular park, police still do not know who killed her or why and are turning the case over to a different set of investigators.
Ms. Ladner-Beaudry's friends and family, along with police, Thursday descended on Pacific Spirit Park – a heavily forested space on the city's west side, where joggers and multimillion-dollar homes are familiar sights.
Peter Ladner, the victim's brother and a former city councillor and mayoral candidate, choked up several times as he read a statement to mark the anniversary. He described Ms. Ladner-Beaudry as "a wise mother, a loving wife, a compassionate sister, a loyal friend, a cheerful mentor, a dedicated community member, a healthy living advocate, a running companion, and a great Scrabble player."
Ms. Ladner-Beaudry's slaying, in the light of day, along a trail she regularly ran, stunned area residents. Some said they would no longer use the park.
Police have returned to the park in recent years to plead for more information from the public. Thursday's message – that there is no suspect or motive, and that anyone with information should come forward – was similar to what police said on last year's anniversary.
Where the announcement differed, however, was that the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team will turn the case over to the RCMP's major crimes special projects unit.
Sergeant Jennifer Pound, an IHIT spokeswoman, said there is still "an enormous amount" of work to do and the special projects unit is better equipped to handle it.
When asked why the case wasn't turned over sooner, if IHIT doesn't have the capacity, Sgt. Pound said, "Because of the timing, we feel it's appropriate come this five-year anniversary." She said just because the case is being turned over doesn't mean IHIT hasn't been working on it, and added that IHIT investigators will still help out.
At the same time, she noted the team of investigators that looked at Ms. Ladner-Beaudry's death has been busy and has worked on 35 homicides in the five years since.
Mr. Ladner, though he was generally complimentary of police, said it has been frustrating to see his sister's case get "bumped down the list."
"It's tremendously frustrating. … We keep hearing nothing, we keep asking, we keep getting the same answers. I'm not blaming them, it's a very, very difficult crime," he said.
Acting Superintendent Ward Lymburner, officer in charge of the special projects unit, said the case will be a priority for his investigators, though he would not say how many will be assigned to the file full-time. He said a fresh set of eyes will be a boon to the investigation.
Ms. Ladner-Beaudry – who was once a nationally ranked swimmer, provincial field hockey player, and sport consultant and administrator for non-profit organizations – is the great-granddaughter of the founder of the Vancouver suburb of Ladner. Her grandfather, a Conservative MP from 1921 to 1930, started the law office Ladner Downs. Her father, who worked at the firm, was also a decorated naval veteran.
She would have turned 58 last Sunday and was a mother of two. Mr. Ladner noted her daughters will not have their mother by their sides for the important moments in their lives.
Sgt. Pound said while there are no suspects in the case, there is still "a high number" of persons of interest. She said police are still looking to identify some of them, who are transient and difficult to find. Some, she said, have been unco-operative when approached by investigators.
Police believe Ms. Ladner-Beaudry's slaying was a random attack.