2014-12-01 14:45 PST

Three decades of investigative efforts, led by investigators from Project E-PANA and the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit have resulted in homicide charges being laid in two BC homicide cases from the 1970s.

Photo of Kathryn-Mary Herbert

On September 24, 1975, 11-year-old Kathryn-Mary Herbert was heading to her Abbotsford home when she disappeared. Her mother reported her missing and tragically 2 months later her remains were located near Harris Road in an undeveloped area. The investigation into her death underwent extensive reviews by various police agencies over the years. In October 2005 investigators from the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit assumed conduct of the case.

The murder of 11 year old Kathryn-Mary Herbert was heinous and horrific. It devastated a family and deeply impacted a community. The investigation into the murder spanned years and required a concerted effort by law enforcement to gather the necessary evidence to bring charges against a suspect. The journey to arrive at this point, however, was not just the product of a continued effort by police; it was also the result of the tenacity, persistence and love demonstrated by her mother, Shari Greer, says Deputy Chief Rick Lucy of the Abbotsford Police Department.

Photo of Monica Jack

On May 6, 1978, 12-year-old Monica Jack was riding her bike along north on Highway 5A just south of Quilchena near the Nicola Ranch in Merritt, BC. While her bike was discovered a day later, it would be another 17 years before her remains were located on June 2, 1995, in a rural area north of Merritt about six kilometres from Highway 5A. Investigative efforts moved forward and in 2007 her murder was added to the Project E-PANA investigation.

Both Monica and Kathryn were young, vibrant and happy girls last seen travelling on roads not far from their homes. Both children also had incredibly strong mothers – Madeline Lanaro and Shari Greer- who have been amazing advocates for their daughters, says Chief Superintendent Jim Gresham head of the BC RCMP Major Crime Section. Ensuring they had the answers they so rightly deserved was a powerful force that guided us over these many years. While these investigations were led by two different investigative and integrated teams, information has been constantly shared and efforts combined when the same suspect was identified in the two cases.

Photo of Garry Taylor Handlen

The totality of three decades of investigative efforts has result in 2 murder charges against 67-year-old Garry Taylor HANDLEN of Ontario. Based on the Criminal Code that was in place at the time of the offences HANDLEN is facing one count of First DEGREE MURDER in connection with the death of Monica JACK and one count of First DEGREE MURDER in connection with the death of Kathryn-Mary HERBERT.

The road to today’s announcement has been long, says Supt. Ward Lymburner – Officer in charge of Special Projects Unit. In Monica’s investigation alone, once it was transferred to the E-PANA team, police reviewed over 500 investigative tasks and then initiated another 241 tasks including re-interviewing individuals and exploring new forensic analysis options. Our efforts to bring the girls’ alleged killer to justice have been extensive and exhaustive.

HANDLEN was arrested without incident in Surrey on November 28, 2014. He will remain in custody and is scheduled to appear in Abbotsford Provincial Court on Monday Dec 8, 2014.

In order to further our investigative efforts, police are taking the step of releasing of photo of HANDLEN around the time of alleged offense. Police are issuing a plea to the public that if anyone has any information about Garry Taylor Handlen, or the disappearances of Monica JACK and Kathryn-Mary HERBERT, please call the TipLine at 1-877-543-4822.

(Click on photos for a higher resolution image)

Released by:

BC RCMP Communications
Phone (778) 290-2929
 


Statement by C/Supt. Jim Gresham,  Officer in Charge of BC RCMP Major Crime Section

Thank you. I’m Chief Superintendent Jim Gresham – the Officer in Charge of the BC RCMP Major Crime Section.

We are here today to announce that charges have been laid in two significant homicide investigations – one investigation is part of Project E-PANA and another has been led by the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit. Both are part of the Special Projects Unit of BC RCMP Major Crime Section that I oversee.

The disappearance and murders of 12 year old Monica JACK and 11 year old Kathryn-Mary HERBERT have been two priority homicide investigations occurring 36 and 39 years ago respectively. They both involved two young vibrant and happy girls last seen not far from their homes. Both involved lengthy and extensive investigations. And both involved two incredibly strong mothers who have been amazing advocates for their daughters during a three-decade-long search for answers. Both mothers are here today and will be issuing statements.

Madeline and Shari – I want to publicly express our condolences to both of you and your families for your tragic losses. Ensuring you had the answers you so rightly deserve was a powerful force that guided us over these many years. We remain committed to you and your daughters. We also appreciate your patience as we balanced the important task of keeping you informed with protecting the integrity of the on-going investigation.

I also wanted to acknowledge Crown who has been an integral partner in our efforts over the years and most recently as we worked towards charge approval.

Supt. Ward Lymburner will go over the investigations and what led us to the announcement of charges today. But I also want to take this opportunity to share how both of these cases illustrate the intense level of work and strong commitment underlying our major crime investigations here in B.C.

Both investigations are examples of: integration of policing resources; multiple investigative reviews; and access to a variety of support services and personnel.

Part 2

As Supt. Lymburner has mentioned, though charges have been laid our work is not done. This is why we are issuing a public plea for assistance and for additional information. In order to further our investigative efforts we are taking the step of releasing a photo of Garry Taylor HANDLEN around the time of the alleged offenses. We are hoping in doing so – it may refresh someone’s memory. If you have any information with respect to Garry Taylor HANDLEN or the disappearance and murders of Monica JACK and Kathryn-Mary HERBERT we are asking you to please call our Tipline at 1-877-543-4822. We are also asking for the media’s help in ensuring that photo and the Tipline are shared with the public.


Statement by Supt. Ward Lymburner, Officer in Charge of Special Projects Unit

Thanks. I’m Supt. Ward Lymburner and I am the Officer in Charge of the Special Projects Unit – which includes the Unsolved Homicide Unit and Project E-PANA.

I can confirm charges have been laid in the homicide investigations of Monica JACK and Kathryn-Mary HERBERT – cases which began in the 1970s.

Monica Rose JACK was 13 days shy of her 13th birthday. On May 6, 1978, at about 7:30 pm she was last seen riding her bicycle alone north on Highway 5A just south of Quilchena near the Nicola Ranch in Merritt, BC. When she didn’t arrive home, her mother Madeline reported her daughter missing to the Merritt RCMP. On May 7th at about 4:00 pm RCMP officers discovered Monica’s bike down an embankment between Highway 5A and Nicola Lake, about a mile south of where she lived – but Monica was not located. Intensive search and investigative efforts failed to find Monica.

17 years later on June 2, 1995, in a rural area north of Merritt about six kilometres from Highway 5A – Monica’s remains were found after a fire had gone through the area. This discovery allowed investigators to advance their efforts. Later, when an extensive file review of cases was conducted – it was determined in 2007 that because of the victim’s profile and because she was last seen traveling along a highway, she would be added to the Project E-PANA investigation. This move allowed for a new group of investigators to review over 500 investigative tasks and then initiate another 241 tasks which included re-interviewing individuals and exploring new forensic analysis options. That brings us to the disappearance and murder of Kathryn-Mary Herbert. On September 24, 1975, her mother Shari reported her 11-year-old daughter missing to the then Matsqui Police Department. The investigation determined that Kathryn-Mary left a friend’s house in Abbotsford around 8:30 pm. While walking home, she met another friend who doubled her on his bicycle part-way home until they parted company near the intersection of Townline and Marshall Roads in Abbotsford, where she was never seen again.

Two months later, on November 17, 1975, Kathyrn-Mary’s remains were located near Harris Road, in an undeveloped area of the Matsqui First Nations Reserve, by two residents. An autopsy later confirmed her death was the result of a homicide.

Her investigation underwent extensive reviews by various police agencies over the years. In October 2005 investigators from the Unsolved Homicide Unit assumed conduct of the Kathryn-Mary HERBERT investigation from the Abbotsford Police Department – which amalgamated policing services from the municipalities of Matsqui and Abbotsford in 1995. Again multiple investigative efforts were pursued from forensics to the issuing of a private $10,000 reward in 2012.
While these investigations were led by two different investigative and integrated teams – information has been constantly shared. And the investigate efforts combined when the same suspect was identified in Monica and Kathyrn-Mary’s cases.

The totality of three decades of investigative efforts has resulted in 2 murder charges against 67-year-old Garry Taylor HANDLEN in the deaths of Monica JACK and Kathryn-Mary HERBERT. Based on the Criminal Code that was in place at the time of the offences, HANDLEN is facing one count of First DEGREE MURDER in connection with the death of Monica JACK and one count of FIRST DEGREE MURDER in connection with the death of Kathryn-Mary HERBERT. HANDLEN was arrested without incident in Surrey on Friday, has been remanded and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Monday Dec 8th in Abbotsford Provincial Court. 


Statement by Deputy Chief Constable Rick – Abbotsford Police Department

Good afternoon,

I feel privileged to be here to represent the Abbotsford Police Department, formerly the Matsqui Police Department, and our community regarding an investigation that began in 1975.
The murder of 11 year old Kathryn-Mary Herbert was heinous and horrific. It deeply impacted citizens and investigators alike but was obviously most devastating to family and friends. Despite the passage of time, changes in investigators and investigative teams, the motivation to find answers continued.

The Abbotsford Police Department and Matsqui Police Department made integral contributions to this investigation from the first response to the eventual collaborative work done through the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit.

Kathryn-Mary Herbert’s murder obviously remained significant to us. That is why it has always been important for us to be involved with the investigation and work to find evidence that would lead to the arrest and charge of a suspect. Today that objective has been realized.

It has been a long journey and it took a concerted, continued and cooperative effort to get here. I wish to thank the numerous diligent individuals, police officers and civilian staff, from various organizations and units who worked tirelessly on this investigation over the years. The importance of these types of investigations is demonstrated by moments like this.

Most importantly, I want to recognize the perseverance, tenacity and love of a mother. There has been a constant throughout this investigation and it has been Shari Greer. Shari has challenged us, inspired us and relentlessly pursued justice for her daughter.

The work that we do is for victims and their families, and I can think of no clearer examples of that than Kathryn-Mary Herbert and Shari Greer. I hope that we have done right by both of them today.

Thank you. 


Statement by Shari Greer - Kathryn-Mary's Mother

Thank you for being here today. This is a moment I have wanted to share for 39 years. Finally, it is here!!

I want to share a bit about my Kath with you. Kathryn-Mary was my only daughter. She was loving and kind and compassionate. After she died, I found a prayer she had written asking God to help a teacher who seemed to dislike most children. She said how nice the teacher really was and that she needed God to help her to show that. She was 10 years old when she wrote that.

Kath would come in from school and the first thing she would ask is if there was anything she could help me with. She pretty well always took her little brothers with her when she went out. I told her she didn’t have to do that. She said she liked to and she enjoyed being with them. She loved all of her brothers so much.

Kath could play anything by ear. If she heard something she liked she would sit down and play it. She was especially wonderful when she played The Sting. Kath also had a beautiful singing voice, unlike her mom, who, instead of bringing down the house, would empty it.

Her best friend Joanne, tried to find a recording they made of Kath singing, but, discovered it had been taped over. I remember her mom calling to tell me it was lost. I tried not to hear my heart break.
Every day, my daughter would put her arms around me and as What are you doing down there shortie? We’d laugh and she would hug me.

The sad thing is, I will never hear her sing or play. I will never hear her laugh, or, see her incredible smile. I will never feel her hugs which were always firm and followed by an I love you. I no longer get to do any of that.

I promised her at her grave side, I would never give up. I didn’t. I thought I failed her, I didn’t. I thank God for that. I thank Him that He loves me in spite of all my transgressions. I thank Him because He loves us all. Including Gary Taylor Handlen.

I want of thank the following people.

  • My friend Fabian Brouwer, who listened to me rant over these many years and, actively participated in this case.
  • Abbotsford, Police Chief, Bob Rich, for keeping a promise.
  • The RCMP, E Division, Unsolved Homicide Unit. Gary Shinkaruk, Supervisor, Laura Livingston and her team, and, the very skilled interviewers.
  • Former Abbotsford PO, Norm MacFarlane
  • I especially want to thank Staff Sergeant, Paul Briggs, Abbotsford Police, who had to rebuild this case from scratch. Since 1995 he has listened to me and argued into his retirement and beyond, this investigation was not done and a promise by the police was not satisfied. Today it was.
  • Kath’s friend Karin, who also worked behind the scenes.
  • David Ridgen of CBC for the documentary.
  • Mia Sheldon of Global TV for her 16x9 presentation.
  • To those in the media who kept Kath’s case current news.
  • Everyone else who kept this case in the public eye and on the front lines.
  • Kath’s friend Karin, who also worked behind the scenes.
  • And, to those in the media who put her case out there. To all who kept this case on the front lines.
  • I am sure I have forgotten many names here. But, will group it together saying, thank you all for your constant support for these 39 years.

Kath was deprived of achieving her dreams. She had many. To try and go on, you would be so tired of the sound of my voice, you would empty the room.

The consolation thing about this is, soon it will be over. But, my pain and the pain of every single family member in murder or otherwise death, will never go away.

There is only one thing I ask of the media. Please leave us alone. I have not yet wrapped my head around this as being real. To try and do interviews would be too hard. I just cannot wrap my brain around all of this. When it is over, I am going to have a well deserved breakdown. I will forever, hear my heart break.

Oh, and, by the way. There is no such thing as a cold case to the families. Nor, is there ever closure. Only resolution, surrounding the events.

Thank you all, again.

 

Email: bcrcmp@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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