One of three people charged with first degree murder in the March 2009 slaying of two Langley residents pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder Thursday afternoon (Oct. 6) in a B.C. Supreme Court hearing in New Westminster.
Roy Michael Thielen will be sentenced at a later date.
Details of the hearing cannot be published because of a court-ordered ban.
Thielen was 30 when he was arrested and charged in July of last year with killing 36-year-old Laura Lynne Lamoureux on March 14, 2009, and the related murder of 33-year-old Marc Bontkes on March 19, 2009, at a location seven blocks east of the Lamoureaux slaying.
Lamoureux, said to be a well-known street-level drug dealer with a record for assaulting a police officer, uttering threats and firearms offences, was found shot to death on the road at 50 Avenue near 202 Street in Langley City.
Bontkes, a Langley home builder, was found shot to death in a mini-van parked in 19500 block of Colebrook Road at Hi-Knoll Park on the Surrey-Langley border, a large nature preserve with hiking trails, five days later.
Witnesses told The Times they heard several shots close together early in the morning.
Bontkes, a husband and father of a toddler, was not known to police, investigators said.
Following a 16-month investigation by the regional Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), Thielen was arrested along with 26-year-old Robert David Bradshaw and a 19-year-old woman who cannot be named because she was an underage 17-year-old at the time of the crime.
The teenager was recently committed for trial on one count of first degree murder following a preliminary hearing of the evidence.
Her case is set to heard in January.
Thielen entered a guilty plea to the less serious offence of second degree murder as his three-week preliminary hearing with co-accused Bradshaw got underway in Surrey provincial Court.
The hearing with Bradshaw alone is expected to continue the week after Thanksgiving.
At the time of the arrests, IHIT Supt. Dan Malo told reporters the homicides were linked to the street-level drug trade.
The three accused were closely associated and their victims were singled out, Malo said.
“These were targeted murders. They were not random,” he said.
The only link between Bontkes and Lamoureux was the trio accused of killing them, Malo added.
It appears Bontkes may have been murdered over an unpaid drug debt, based on comments by his brother Tim, who told reporters his brother had fallen down “a slippery slope from alcohol to [hard] drugs.”
Tim Bontkes referred to the “bigger problem” that escalates to threats from dealers when debts are not paid.
“It’s a nasty cycle,” he said.
Despite his involvement with drugs, Marc Bontkes was still very committed to his family, his brother said.
The undercover operation that led to the arrests, “Project E-Pugil” as it was called, sent investigators to several provinces and B.C. communities to pursue leads.
It cost more than $800,000 (excluding IHIT salaries), police said.
– with files from Natasha Jones