Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Two men charged with murder in Nova Scotia homeless man’s death

Berwick, N.S., held a vigil in October for the late Harley Lawrence, who had been the town’s only homeless person.

Nancy Kelly/

Two men have been charged with first-degree murder by the RCMP in the death of a homeless man whose body was found last year in a burned out bus shelter in Berwick, N.S.

Police say 26-year-old Daniel Wayne Surette of Berwick and 25-year-old Kyle David James Fredericks of Berwick District were charged Friday in the death of Harley Lawrence.

Lawrence died on Oct. 23 in the small, rural community in the province's Annapolis Valley.

Story continues below advertisement

Police had released few details about the death of the 62-year-old man but they announced two arrests Friday morning before a news conference in the evening to announce the charges.

People in the community said Lawrence began using the shelter for refuge as temperatures dipped last fall.

Ronald Lawrence has said his brother had a mental health problem that wasn't diagnosed, but it seemed to surface when he was about 25.

Supt. Darrell Beaton said help from the community and "thousands of hours" of investigation led to the arrests.

"Our goal was to gather the evidence that would identify the person or persons believed to be responsible for the death of Harley Lawrence and we have accomplished that," he said in a statement.

Police said Surette was arrested in Berwick and Fredericks was arrested in the Halifax suburb of Lower Sackville without incident.

Both have been remanded to appear in court in Kentville on Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

Beaton acknowledged that the circumstances of Lawrence's death have been difficult for the town.

"This community was shaken by the horrific circumstance surrounding the death of Harley Lawrence," he told a news conference.

"In the days and weeks following his death, the family of Mr. Lawrence, the citizens of Berwick and police were all focused on finding answers."

Inp. Chris MacNaughton said people have also been brought together by Lawrence's death.

"It has been a trying time for the Lawrence family and the community as a whole," she said. "As a police officer, I have seen how tragedy can bring people together as in this case."

After police announced the arrests Friday morning, Ronald Lawrence said he understood that many unanswered questions about his brother's death might only emerge as the legal process unfolds.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's part of the healing process to get conclusions and to get to the bottom of what happened to him," he said.

"It will give some closure when all is said and done, but there is a lot of unanswered questions from the RCMP just yet."

Lawrence said he also understood why it took police time to conduct their investigation.

"They're doing it by the book," he added.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to