Seniors identified as murder victims; police warn public to be vigilant
Police have publicly identified the victims of a double homicide in South Vancouver as married seniors, and are warning the public to be cautious.
The bodies of 65-year-old Dianna Mah-Jones and her husband, 68-year-old Richard Jones, were found at their Marpole home near 64th Avenue and Hudson Street Wednesday afternoon.
Police were called to the scene after a friend of the residents stopped by to say hello and noticed something was off.
Two days later the Vancouver Police Department said it is not yet known whether the incident was targeted or random.
"We're looking at everything. We're looking at all the possibilities," Const. Jason Doucette said at a news conference Friday.
"At this point in time, we don't have absolute motive. We can't say for sure that this was a random attack or it was targeted."
Officers have released few details about the double homicide, including where the crime took place and whether they have a suspect.
Doucette said any information on a possible killer or killers would be part of their investigation, but would not be shared at this point.
Also part of their investigation is the fact that the couple had a short-term rental suite in their basement, a listing for which has since been removed from Airbnb.
The VPD said officers would look into whether it was rented out at the time of the homicides, but Airbnb told CTV News there was no reservation.
The last booking for the suite was several days before the couple was found dead, press secretary Lindsey Scully said in a statement.
"We have been working with Vancouver PD to share information and have confirmed this for them as well," she wrote.
There was also no sign of a break-in from the front of the home, but forensic teams put down several evidence markers leading around the side of the house.
The VPD has said little about the crime scene, but did issue a request to the public for help to find a 2014 white Kia Soul that was associated to the address. The vehicle was missing initially, and officers asked the public to help them track it down.
The Joneses' neighbour, Emma Greenhalgh, said she saw someone drive the Kia away from the home as she was going to bed, around 10:30 p.m. the night before the bodies were discovered.
"I recognized it as their car. I saw it pull away from outside the house," she said.
CTV cameras were there when the empty vehicle was found, just a few blocks from the scene of the crime. The VPD said it was towed to a garage where it will be checked for clues.
A neighbour also saw suspicious activity Wednesday morning.
Greenhalgh said her partner saw the couple's back door open, which they thought was unusual.
"It was unusual. He saw it open again a little while later, and then about an hour later it was closed," she said.
Greenhalgh said the Joneses were a "lovely couple" who used to share the kale they grew in their yard.
Mah-Jones was super active and often in her garden, and her husband was disabled and often at the home. She said the couple's children are grown and don't live in Vancouver.
Their deaths mark the city's 14th and 15th homicides of the year.
A B.C. "health care hero"
Mah-Jones was a longtime and well-respected occupational therapist with the Vancouver General Hospital and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre.
Vancouver Coastal Health issued a statement Friday saying the health care community is "shocked and saddened by the tragic death" of their colleague and her husband.
Mah-Jones was named 2015's Outstanding Occupational Therapist of the Year by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists B.C. Earlier this summer she was honoured as the Provincial Health Care Hero in the annual B.C. Health Care Awards.
"A compassionate health care professional, she was a much-loved member of the VCH family for 35 years who achieved much in her career," the statement reads.
"Dianna will be remembered as someone who went above and beyond to make a difference for her patients and missed by all who knew her."
Is the public safe?
The decision to issue a reminder to be on alert raised questions of public safety, but police said they've put a lot of resources into finding whoever is responsible for the crime.
"We're asking the public just to be a little bit extra vigilant… so we're asking people to do their part to assist us in keeping everyone safe and call 911 immediately if you see anything suspicious," Doucette said.
The request was made of an abundance of caution, he said, adding that the case is among the VPD's top priorities. As police piece together the case, they're asking the public to "look out for one another" and report anything that doesn't feel right.
"Report suspicious activity to us. Let us filter it out, let us decide whether or not something's suspicious," Doucette said.
He said officers are working hard to find those responsible, and that no detail is too small in the ongoing investigation.
"We're going to turn over every rock we can and hold the people accountable for this."
Anyone with information can contact the Vancouver Police Department at 604-717-2500, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim and Breanna Karstens-Smith
Victims of double murder: Dianna Mah-Jones & Richard Jones. Dianna is an award-winning occupational therapist, named BCs Health Hero in June pic.twitter.com/OVViMnHtnR— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) September 29, 2017