Accused in Vancouver double homicide was victims' close friend, family says
VANCOUVER -- Tausha Tonks has a lot of questions about her father’s death, allegedly at the hands of one of his best friends.
“My dad was a fantastic man,” she told CTV News Vancouver. “He had a good kind heart. We need answers.”
Paul Tonks, 68, was killed July 7 at a house in East Vancouver near the intersection of 11th Avenue and Commercial Drive. He wasn’t the only one found dead inside. Dennis Wragg, 72, was also shot and killed.
The man accused is 43-year-old Joseph Holland, who is facing two charges of second-degree murder and one of attempted murder. Police say there was a third victim at the house.
Tonks says all four of them were friends.
“My dad would take them all the time and they’d go camping all the time in Chilliwack,” she said. “They’d jump in my dad’s van and they would just go have an overnight binge.”
When she’d ask him what he does with these friends he’d say, “we just banter and drink beer.” Tonks had never met the men, but she said, “my dad talked very highly of them, and Jo as well.” She said he’d spend some time at that house, and since the pandemic began, he was doing his laundry there because recreation centres and truck stops were closed.
Following the discovery of the bodies, police released a photo of a vehicle of interest: a grey van that Tonks says actually belonged to her dad.
“It was a nightmare. It was like a movie that just came true,” she said.
A year before his death, almost to the day, Tonks says she, her son and her father hiked to the summit of Mount Cheam. It was July 12, 2019.
“(It was) such a huge, huge thing for him,” she said. “He almost didn’t make it to the top and we had to push him.”
What she didn’t know, and only found out after his death, is that he’d taken a stone from the top and kept it. Writing her name and her son’s on it with the date.
“That’s like gold to me,” she said. “He was a good man. He wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
Paul lived a somewhat transient life and Tonks explained he’d been in an out of her life over the years. He often lived in his van and spent lots of time camping off the grid. Recently, he’d been making an effort to be with family.
“We just went to Disneyland,” she said, describing the trip as “really fantastic.”
“I don’t think he’d ever been to the states. Never had a passport.”
She said he went for a “trial run” going golfing in the U.S. before their trip to see what it was like.
“He was super excited,” she said.
About a week before he died, Tonks said she called him with exciting news. She had just gotten engaged.
“He said right away he planned to be at the wedding for sure and being there, and walking me down the aisle,” she said, explaining the last time she got married he didn’t get to.
Unfortunately, he won’t this time either, but Tonks has a plan for how to keep him close on her wedding day.
“I kept some of his ashes and we’re going to make a necklace and he’s going to walk me down that way,” she said.
As her family comes to grips with their grief, she said her father had never created a will or assigned an executor. That’s a lesson she wants everyone to take from this.
Tonks said he didn’t have a lot of money, but dealing with what he left has still been a challenge.
“I can’t even close his bank account because there’s no will and there’s no executor,” she said.
She wants people to realize life can be cut short, and to be prepared if it does. The family has a GoFundMe page set up to help cover his expenses.
“The family just needs to know why,” she said.
She plans to be in court for her dad, but she says she hopes the trial won’t stretch on for years.
Holland’s next court date is Oct. 8.