Charges have been laid in the murders of two young girls over three decades ago.
The BC RCMP says Garry Taylor Handlen, 67, is facing first-degree murder charges in the deaths of 12-year-old Monica Jack and 11-year-old Kathryn-Mary Herbert.
The cold cases began on September 24th, 1975 when Herbert’s mother Shari reported her daughter missing. On November 17th, 1975 her partially decomposed body was located near Harris Road, an undeveloped area of the Matsqui First Nations Reserve, by two residents. Herbert had her identity confirmed through dental records. An autopsy confirmed she had been the victim of a homicide.
Earlier in the evening of Herbert’s disappearance she had last been seen at a friend’s house in Abbotsford, and was doubled on a friend’s bicycle part way home. The two parted ways and she was never seen alive again.
Monica Jack disappeared while bicycling near Merritt on May 6th, 1978. She was never seen again and her fate unknown until 1995 when a forestry worker found her skeletal remains off a ravine on Swakum Mountain, about 20 kilometres from where her bike had been located. Jack was identified through dental records and in 1996 police said they had a suspect but not enough evidence to lay charges.
RCMP is appealing to the public for information about Handlen in the lower mainland during the late 1970s.
“The road to today’s announcement has been long,” said 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, originally from Ontario, was arrested without incident in Surrey on November 28th, 2014 and will remain in custody and is scheduled to appear in court again on December 8th, 2014. No other information regarding the arrest and relation to the victims has been released by police.