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TIMELINE: The night Harley Lawrence was murdered


BERWICK - On Oct. 22, 2013, Jennifer Gaudet stopped on Berwick's streets to buy a hot chocolate for Harley Lawrence. It’s believed she’s the last person to see the 62-year-old man alive.

Lawrence had been living in Berwick for approximately eight months and was sleeping in the bus shelter where he was killed a few hours later.

New details emerged at the April 28 sentencing hearing for Lawrence's killers. Kyle Fredericks and Daniel Surette pleaded guilty to second-degree murder

Here's what happened after Gaudet's interaction with Harley, according to the agreed statement of facts filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

 

Oct. 23, 2013

1:30 a.m. – Kyle Fredericks and Daniel Surette leave the house of Surette’s ex-girlfriend, Cebrina Keddy. They had been drinking, did some Dilaudid and smoked a joint. They also consumed a mixture of cocaine and MDMA.

 

1:45 a.m. - James Harvey and Shannon Taylor are at the Petro-Canada station near the bus shelter, preparing newspapers for delivery. They see two men walking south on Commercial Street in Berwick, towards the Irving Gas Station/Needs store across the street. One man is wearing a plaid jacket, the other a dark-coloured hoodie.

 

1:58 a.m. – Video surveillance from the Irving shows a man in a plaid jacket purchasing gas. A second man at the furthest pump from the store is seen walking northbound on Commercial Street some seconds before the main in plaid leaves the store. The man in the plaid jacket joins the other man, who has a white windshield washer container. The two walk briskly down Commercial Street together towards the Foodland.

Surette later says in an interview with police that Fredericks gave him $10 to buy the gas. He says Fredericks gave him the jug to pour gas onto “the bum.” It’s not clear which one of them owned the lighter and which one flicked it to set the fire.

Tyler Hansen, who was working at the Irving that night, later tells police a man had come into the station, paid $10 in cash for the gas and told him his truck had broken down and that his night was “shitty” because of it. He tells police he never saw the second man at the pumps.

 

2 a.m. – An orange glow is visible on video surveillance tapes from nearby businesses. Fredericks later tells police the fire is so hot he has to step back. Surette later tells police they stay at the scene until Fredericks says they have to go.

Harvey and Taylor separate to deliver their papers. Taylor heads north on Commercial Street, towards the Foodland, and spots the bus shelter on fire. She calls Harvey and takes photos of the fire using her cell phone.

 

2:09 a.m. – Terry Joudrey, who was working at the Foodland on Commercial Street, dials 911 after seeing the bus shelter on fire. He says that while he’s not certain if there’s anyone in the shelter, an older, homeless man had been staying in the shelter. He reports that it looks like something is burning in the shelter.

 

2:15 a.m. – Fredericks and Surette meet up at Surette’s home. The two had separated after the fire, with Surette running down Cottage Street and Fredericks going in another durection. Fredericks returns for the gas jug and leaves it on Surette’s porch. A few weeks later, he gets rid of the jug, throwing it in a ditch “up the mountain, out of town.” The two shower at Surette’s house to get rid of the smell of gas. Surette is also “doing things” in the house to get rid of the smell, Fredericks later tells police. Surette later tells police he gave his clothing to Fredericks to burn and asked his mother and girlfriend to lie for him and say he was at home.

 

• The fire marshal’s office conducts an examination of the scene. A large amount of broken, tempered glass is on the ground and the plastic panels on the roof of the bus shelter are melted and disfigured. Only the southwest corner and south end of the glass walls of the shelter remain intact and one end of a bench inside the shelter remained intact.

The body of Harley Lawrence is discovered. It’s reported to police that he normally slept in a north-south direction but his body was found with his upper torso out of the bus shelter door with his head towards the east, indicating he attempted to get out of the shelter before his death.

The fire marshal reports smelling gasoline on the clothing of the deceased.

• A crime bulletin is distributed to local police, who identify the man on the gas station video as Surette based on prior dealings they’d had with him.

• Judith Wells finds a plaid jacket under a bush on Maple Avenue in Berwick and alerts police. The item is seized and investigators believe it is the same one as seen in the gas station video.

• Police begin interviewing “dozens of witnesses” to confirm the identity of Surette and identify the second man.

 

By mid-day, both the Open Arms pastor and Berwick mayor say they are concerned the homeless man in Berwick was the victim of the fire.

 

Valley Search and Rescue are called in to help look for evidence.

 

Oct. 24, 2013

• An autopsy is conducted on Harley Lawrence’s death. It’s determined he died as a result of the fire. Fingerprints are taken to confirm the identity of the deceased. It’s confirmed that police have a homicide investigation. Police announce that the murdered man is Harley Lawrence.

 

Oct. 26, 2013

• The community plans a memorial for Lawrence. The candlelight vigil leads many Berwick residents to wonder where the should go from there.  Hundreds gather at the ceremony and release balloons as people quietly called out, “Soar high, Harley.”

 

Oct. 28, 2013

• Surette goes to the Irving and speaks with the clerk on duty, Samuel Jones. He asks about the video surveillance and states he’s being blamed for the fire and it was not him on any video. Jones had previously told police on Oct. 24 that he had reviewed the video and didn’t believe it was Surette, but after Surette came by the store, he reviewed it again and was positive the man in the plaid jacket was Surette.

 

Oct. 30, 2013

A funeral is held for Harley Lawrence. Annapolis Valley Health also offers counseling to the community.

 

Nov. 2, 2013

• Becky Surette calls RCMP and says her son, Daniel Surette, is drunk and out of control at their residence, breaking items and bleeding from his hands and face. Surette is under a recognizance with a condition to abstain from alcohol, keep the peace and abide by a curfew. He is arrested. As police prepare to bring him to the detachment, Surette begins crying and asks to speak with his mother and tell her he loves her because he believes he will go back to jail and won’t get the opportunity to do so later. His mother doesn’t want to see him. Surette begins yelling that he doesn’t care about breaching his conditions and yells, “You don’t know what I’ve done, fuck it…I torched the Berwick Bum!” Surette is arrested for the murder of Lawrence based on the spontaneous admission and transported to New Minas to be dealt with by the RCMP Major Crime Unit.

 

Nov. 3, 2013

• Surette recants his original admission of responsibility in Lawrence’s death when interviewed. He states that RCMP officers took his comments out of context. He is released without other charges.

• RCMP interview Alisha Hazelton while Surette is in custody. In her initial police interview she said Surette had been at home all night. Now she says he had left the house and came back for a shower. She says he was “spazzing out” and later admits, “I lit ‘him’ on fire.” She says she went to bed and heard Surette talking to someone who she assumed was Fredericks. She says she overheard Fredericks say he had to get out of town because there were too many police around.

 

Nov. 6, 2013

• Family members of Lawrence ask to be left alone so they can mourn in peace.

 

Nov. 20, 2013

• A petition is circulated asking that the bus shelter be moved. In December, it’s announced that it will not be relocated.

 

Nov. 30, 2013

• A gravemarker is donated for Lawrence.

 

November 2013

• Police begin a Mr. Big operation involving Surette. They hope to discover the exact involvement of Surette and Fredericks, if any, in Lawrence’s death. The primary target is initially Surette. In his first meeting with the undercover officers he tells them a lot of people in town thought Lawrence was a “rat” because he arrived out of nowhere and people had seen him with a cell phone and seen him going into a bank.

• Charred fabric and white fiber fill, believed to have come from the sleeping bag and clothing of the victim, is sent to the RCMP Forensic Laboratory for analysis.

 

 

December 2013

• Police receive a report on forensic analysis of the plaid jacket. A DNA profile from an unknown man was developed using biological material on the jacket. It is compared to known samples in the DNA bank and a match is found: Surette.

• Surette is arrested on outstanding warrants and sentenced to six months on unrelated charges. The Mr. Big operation continues, with Fredericks as the focus. Fredericks, as part of the operation, does a reenactment of the night Lawrence dies. He says after they lit Lawrence on fire they waited to see if he would scream, but there was no sound and he didn’t move. Fredericks also locates the black hoodie he wore the night of the fire.

 

Jan. 15, 2014

• Students from Berwick School brainstorm solutions in the wake of Lawrence’s death.

 

February 2014

• Police receive further reports on the plaid jacket, confirming gasoline is found in the fabric.

• Police receive analysis of the fabric from the victim’s clothing and sleeping bag. It tests positive for the presence of gasoline.

 

Feb. 10, 2014

• Cebrina Keddy, an ex-girlfriend of Surette, arrives at the New Minas RCMP detachment and says she wants to give a statement about the fire. She says Surette told her seven times he had killed Lawrence. She says one day, he grabbed her face and called her a retard and said they could not go on a date because he had warrants and had killed the homeless man.

 

Feb. 17, 2014

• A meeting is held at the Berwick Lions Hall focusing on ways to make the community more inclusive in response to Lawrence’s death.

 

Feb. 24, 2014

• Plans for a garden in Lawrence’s memory are announced.

 

 

March 2014

• Police receive further reports on the plaid jacket, indicating areas on the front had sustained some textile damage consistent to being exposed to a heat source.

 

April 24, 2014

• Surette is released from jail. Fredericks, Surette and the undercover officers meet. Surette recounts the details of the night Lawrence died.

• At 11:47 p.m. in Berwick, Surette is arrested for murder.

 

April 25, 2014

• At 1:19 a.m., Fredericks is arrested for murder in Lower Sackville. He is brought to the Windsor RCMP, where he is interviewed by the RCMP Truth Verification Services. He admits to Lawrence’s murder and writes an apology letter.

• Surette is interviewed by police and confesses. He writes an apology letter to Lawrence family.

• Surette is brought to cells and tells an undercover operator he had been arrested for murder. He says he feels remorseful now that he knew the man was not a cop. “We thought there was an undercover cop in town watching us sell drugs. We couldn’t take the chance. We set him on fire,” Surette says. He says his buddy “flicked the lighter” but he thought he would get nailed for it.

• New statements are taken from Becky Surette and Kyle Mackenzie. Becky Surette identifies her son in the video from the gas station and says her son told her that night he’d done something “bad” to the “bum.” Mackenzie says Surette woke him up the night of the fire and said “The bum’s on fire, I lit the bum on fire.”

• At 8 p.m., it’s announced in a press conference that arrests had been made in the Lawrence case. Lawrence’s family members say they hope the arrests will help them heal. The community expresses relief that people had been arrested.

 

Lawrence had been living in Berwick for approximately eight months and was sleeping in the bus shelter where he was killed a few hours later.

New details emerged at the April 28 sentencing hearing for Lawrence's killers. Kyle Fredericks and Daniel Surette pleaded guilty to second-degree murder

Here's what happened after Gaudet's interaction with Harley, according to the agreed statement of facts filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

 

Oct. 23, 2013

1:30 a.m. – Kyle Fredericks and Daniel Surette leave the house of Surette’s ex-girlfriend, Cebrina Keddy. They had been drinking, did some Dilaudid and smoked a joint. They also consumed a mixture of cocaine and MDMA.

 

1:45 a.m. - James Harvey and Shannon Taylor are at the Petro-Canada station near the bus shelter, preparing newspapers for delivery. They see two men walking south on Commercial Street in Berwick, towards the Irving Gas Station/Needs store across the street. One man is wearing a plaid jacket, the other a dark-coloured hoodie.

 

1:58 a.m. – Video surveillance from the Irving shows a man in a plaid jacket purchasing gas. A second man at the furthest pump from the store is seen walking northbound on Commercial Street some seconds before the main in plaid leaves the store. The man in the plaid jacket joins the other man, who has a white windshield washer container. The two walk briskly down Commercial Street together towards the Foodland.

Surette later says in an interview with police that Fredericks gave him $10 to buy the gas. He says Fredericks gave him the jug to pour gas onto “the bum.” It’s not clear which one of them owned the lighter and which one flicked it to set the fire.

Tyler Hansen, who was working at the Irving that night, later tells police a man had come into the station, paid $10 in cash for the gas and told him his truck had broken down and that his night was “shitty” because of it. He tells police he never saw the second man at the pumps.

 

2 a.m. – An orange glow is visible on video surveillance tapes from nearby businesses. Fredericks later tells police the fire is so hot he has to step back. Surette later tells police they stay at the scene until Fredericks says they have to go.

Harvey and Taylor separate to deliver their papers. Taylor heads north on Commercial Street, towards the Foodland, and spots the bus shelter on fire. She calls Harvey and takes photos of the fire using her cell phone.

 

2:09 a.m. – Terry Joudrey, who was working at the Foodland on Commercial Street, dials 911 after seeing the bus shelter on fire. He says that while he’s not certain if there’s anyone in the shelter, an older, homeless man had been staying in the shelter. He reports that it looks like something is burning in the shelter.

 

2:15 a.m. – Fredericks and Surette meet up at Surette’s home. The two had separated after the fire, with Surette running down Cottage Street and Fredericks going in another durection. Fredericks returns for the gas jug and leaves it on Surette’s porch. A few weeks later, he gets rid of the jug, throwing it in a ditch “up the mountain, out of town.” The two shower at Surette’s house to get rid of the smell of gas. Surette is also “doing things” in the house to get rid of the smell, Fredericks later tells police. Surette later tells police he gave his clothing to Fredericks to burn and asked his mother and girlfriend to lie for him and say he was at home.

 

• The fire marshal’s office conducts an examination of the scene. A large amount of broken, tempered glass is on the ground and the plastic panels on the roof of the bus shelter are melted and disfigured. Only the southwest corner and south end of the glass walls of the shelter remain intact and one end of a bench inside the shelter remained intact.

The body of Harley Lawrence is discovered. It’s reported to police that he normally slept in a north-south direction but his body was found with his upper torso out of the bus shelter door with his head towards the east, indicating he attempted to get out of the shelter before his death.

The fire marshal reports smelling gasoline on the clothing of the deceased.

• A crime bulletin is distributed to local police, who identify the man on the gas station video as Surette based on prior dealings they’d had with him.

• Judith Wells finds a plaid jacket under a bush on Maple Avenue in Berwick and alerts police. The item is seized and investigators believe it is the same one as seen in the gas station video.

• Police begin interviewing “dozens of witnesses” to confirm the identity of Surette and identify the second man.

 

By mid-day, both the Open Arms pastor and Berwick mayor say they are concerned the homeless man in Berwick was the victim of the fire.

 

Valley Search and Rescue are called in to help look for evidence.

 

Oct. 24, 2013

• An autopsy is conducted on Harley Lawrence’s death. It’s determined he died as a result of the fire. Fingerprints are taken to confirm the identity of the deceased. It’s confirmed that police have a homicide investigation. Police announce that the murdered man is Harley Lawrence.

 

Oct. 26, 2013

• The community plans a memorial for Lawrence. The candlelight vigil leads many Berwick residents to wonder where the should go from there.  Hundreds gather at the ceremony and release balloons as people quietly called out, “Soar high, Harley.”

 

Oct. 28, 2013

• Surette goes to the Irving and speaks with the clerk on duty, Samuel Jones. He asks about the video surveillance and states he’s being blamed for the fire and it was not him on any video. Jones had previously told police on Oct. 24 that he had reviewed the video and didn’t believe it was Surette, but after Surette came by the store, he reviewed it again and was positive the man in the plaid jacket was Surette.

 

Oct. 30, 2013

A funeral is held for Harley Lawrence. Annapolis Valley Health also offers counseling to the community.

 

Nov. 2, 2013

• Becky Surette calls RCMP and says her son, Daniel Surette, is drunk and out of control at their residence, breaking items and bleeding from his hands and face. Surette is under a recognizance with a condition to abstain from alcohol, keep the peace and abide by a curfew. He is arrested. As police prepare to bring him to the detachment, Surette begins crying and asks to speak with his mother and tell her he loves her because he believes he will go back to jail and won’t get the opportunity to do so later. His mother doesn’t want to see him. Surette begins yelling that he doesn’t care about breaching his conditions and yells, “You don’t know what I’ve done, fuck it…I torched the Berwick Bum!” Surette is arrested for the murder of Lawrence based on the spontaneous admission and transported to New Minas to be dealt with by the RCMP Major Crime Unit.

 

Nov. 3, 2013

• Surette recants his original admission of responsibility in Lawrence’s death when interviewed. He states that RCMP officers took his comments out of context. He is released without other charges.

• RCMP interview Alisha Hazelton while Surette is in custody. In her initial police interview she said Surette had been at home all night. Now she says he had left the house and came back for a shower. She says he was “spazzing out” and later admits, “I lit ‘him’ on fire.” She says she went to bed and heard Surette talking to someone who she assumed was Fredericks. She says she overheard Fredericks say he had to get out of town because there were too many police around.

 

Nov. 6, 2013

• Family members of Lawrence ask to be left alone so they can mourn in peace.

 

Nov. 20, 2013

• A petition is circulated asking that the bus shelter be moved. In December, it’s announced that it will not be relocated.

 

Nov. 30, 2013

• A gravemarker is donated for Lawrence.

 

November 2013

• Police begin a Mr. Big operation involving Surette. They hope to discover the exact involvement of Surette and Fredericks, if any, in Lawrence’s death. The primary target is initially Surette. In his first meeting with the undercover officers he tells them a lot of people in town thought Lawrence was a “rat” because he arrived out of nowhere and people had seen him with a cell phone and seen him going into a bank.

• Charred fabric and white fiber fill, believed to have come from the sleeping bag and clothing of the victim, is sent to the RCMP Forensic Laboratory for analysis.

 

 

December 2013

• Police receive a report on forensic analysis of the plaid jacket. A DNA profile from an unknown man was developed using biological material on the jacket. It is compared to known samples in the DNA bank and a match is found: Surette.

• Surette is arrested on outstanding warrants and sentenced to six months on unrelated charges. The Mr. Big operation continues, with Fredericks as the focus. Fredericks, as part of the operation, does a reenactment of the night Lawrence dies. He says after they lit Lawrence on fire they waited to see if he would scream, but there was no sound and he didn’t move. Fredericks also locates the black hoodie he wore the night of the fire.

 

Jan. 15, 2014

• Students from Berwick School brainstorm solutions in the wake of Lawrence’s death.

 

February 2014

• Police receive further reports on the plaid jacket, confirming gasoline is found in the fabric.

• Police receive analysis of the fabric from the victim’s clothing and sleeping bag. It tests positive for the presence of gasoline.

 

Feb. 10, 2014

• Cebrina Keddy, an ex-girlfriend of Surette, arrives at the New Minas RCMP detachment and says she wants to give a statement about the fire. She says Surette told her seven times he had killed Lawrence. She says one day, he grabbed her face and called her a retard and said they could not go on a date because he had warrants and had killed the homeless man.

 

Feb. 17, 2014

• A meeting is held at the Berwick Lions Hall focusing on ways to make the community more inclusive in response to Lawrence’s death.

 

Feb. 24, 2014

• Plans for a garden in Lawrence’s memory are announced.

 

 

March 2014

• Police receive further reports on the plaid jacket, indicating areas on the front had sustained some textile damage consistent to being exposed to a heat source.

 

April 24, 2014

• Surette is released from jail. Fredericks, Surette and the undercover officers meet. Surette recounts the details of the night Lawrence died.

• At 11:47 p.m. in Berwick, Surette is arrested for murder.

 

April 25, 2014

• At 1:19 a.m., Fredericks is arrested for murder in Lower Sackville. He is brought to the Windsor RCMP, where he is interviewed by the RCMP Truth Verification Services. He admits to Lawrence’s murder and writes an apology letter.

• Surette is interviewed by police and confesses. He writes an apology letter to Lawrence family.

• Surette is brought to cells and tells an undercover operator he had been arrested for murder. He says he feels remorseful now that he knew the man was not a cop. “We thought there was an undercover cop in town watching us sell drugs. We couldn’t take the chance. We set him on fire,” Surette says. He says his buddy “flicked the lighter” but he thought he would get nailed for it.

• New statements are taken from Becky Surette and Kyle Mackenzie. Becky Surette identifies her son in the video from the gas station and says her son told her that night he’d done something “bad” to the “bum.” Mackenzie says Surette woke him up the night of the fire and said “The bum’s on fire, I lit the bum on fire.”

• At 8 p.m., it’s announced in a press conference that arrests had been made in the Lawrence case. Lawrence’s family members say they hope the arrests will help them heal. The community expresses relief that people had been arrested.

 

Harley Lawrence, who lived on the streets of Berwick since last spring, died ina fire on Commercial Street Oct. 23. RCMP consider the death suspicious.

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