MERRITT, B.C. - An ugly reminder of the murders of three children has finally been demolished — seven years after the heinous crime rocked the Interior community of Merritt, B.C.
On Wednesday, an excavator rolled off the property and a truck hauled away debris, leaving the place where kids once ran free barren of a residence.
In April 2008, Allan Schoenborn stabbed his 10-year-old daughter Kaitlynne and smothered his sons — eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon.
Mayor Neil Menard said the city began issuing notices to the homeowner four years ago, asking that the mobile home be demolished or moved elsewhere.
But long after a police investigation ended and the place sat vacant, the homeowner from the Vancouver area refused to take action, Menard said.
The city then issued a deadline of March 15, saying it would otherwise hire its own contractor and bill for costs, including a 15 per cent surcharge.
The homeowner was angry about having to knock the place down, Menard said. But last week, he walked into city hall and obtained work permits.
Neighbours were relieved.
"Everybody in town here, all of our citizens, just wanted it to go away," Menard said, adding the home symbolized an unbearably dark time for the town of 7,000 people.
"Every time something would come up on the TV it was a reminder all the time," he said of the years of news coverage on the case.
"It just opens everything up, over and over and over again. We were just plain tired of it."
Schoenborn left the children's bodies in the house, where they were discovered by their mother. Police tracked him down after a 10-day manhunt through forest and mountains.
In February 2010, he was found not responsible for the murders because of a mental disorder. He has been living at a secured psychiatric facility in Coquitlam, B.C., and his requests for escorted day trips have been denied.
Saxon Peters, the contractor who ran the excavator at the site, said work in the area of single-family residences and some mobile homes was "challenging at times" because of what happened there.
"I'm happy to see it go, there's no question about it. I have young kids as well and it was a horrific tragedy. I don't see any reason to keep the trailer standing."
Peters said it was about time the place was torn down.
"The neighbours were all extremely supportive to see it go. They had to live with it day in and day out for the last seven years, so I would hear things like, 'It's finally happening.' 'Sure nice to see it gone.'"
Some neighbours have suggested they'd like to see a park on the lot but that decision will up to the homeowner.