'We've been waiting': Family of Vernon man killed last year react to murder charges | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'We've been waiting': Family of Vernon man killed last year react to murder charges

Will volunteered at the Upper Room Mission where staff were devastated to hear of his passing.
Image Credit: Teresa Bartz
October 16, 2018 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - Teresa Bartz doesn’t know why anyone would want to hurt her brother, but she’s hoping for some answers now that two people have been charged with his murder.

Will Bartz, known as Willy to his friends and family, was found dead July 19, 2017 at Sundance Suites in Vernon, where he lived. Now, some 15 months later, police — who Bartz’s sister praised for diligently phoning every month with an update — have laid charges against a man and a woman, Jacqueline Nicole Leavins, 40, and Richard William Fairgrieve, 45, both of whom face a charge of second degree murder.

“We were very happy to hear that,” Bartz says by phone from Manitoba. “We’ve been waiting quite a while for this to happen. We were worried whoever had done it was going to get away with it.”

Her 50-year-old brother was well-known in Vernon, where he could often be seen walking around town or volunteering at places like the Upper Room Mission. A car accident in his 20s left him with permanent brain damage and a limp, she says, but he always looked on the bright side and lived to make other people laugh. He wasn’t perfect, his sister says, but he was a kind soul.

READ MORE: Friends and family shocked by suspicious death of Vernon man

“He didn’t have much, but he shared what he had,” she says.

Willy was on disability and used the services of social agencies such as the Upper Room Mission. When he could, he gave back by volunteering and the Mission’s co-executive director Lisa Anderson said shortly after his death that he will be deeply missed.

“He seemed like he was getting his life together and wasn’t needing our services as much. He’d stop in to say hi to the staff and volunteers,” Anderson said. “He was loved by so many people. He was always smiling and happy and that’s how I’ll remember him.”

Bartz’s family is still waiting for answers about the circumstances around his death. They know that Leavins and Fairgrieve were known to him, but they don’t know the exact relationship. They know he died of stab wounds.

“We’re hoping the evidence the police managed to collect will do the job and my brother will get justice,” his sister says.

She plans to attend any major court proceedings, along with her dad if his health permits.

“My dad says good morning and good night to him every day,” she says of the urn containing her brother’s ashes. “We miss him terribly. We’re hoping this will have a good ending. It won’t bring him back, but it’s something anyways.”

Leavins and Fairgrieve are due to appear in Vernon Provincial Court Oct. 18. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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