The family of Abbotsford murder victim Ryan Lajeunesse is hoping to bring his body home to Manitoba.
Lajeunesse’s daughter Jazmyn, 20, said her family has had very little contact with her dad since he left the province in around 2015, but he is very much loved.
“We just need to see him to say our goodbyes. We were looking for him for so long, and then we just lost track of him,” Jazmyn said.
Lajeunesse, 41, was fatally stabbed Jan. 8 in Peardonville Park at the corner of Peardonville and Clearbrook roads. He was homeless, and had a tent set up in the park.
The circumstances of the stabbing are either not yet known by police or have not been released, and no suspects have been charged.
His family has started a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising enough money to cover the expenses to bring his body back to Manitoba.
Lajeunesse was born and raised in Manitoba, where he left behind three other daughters – ages 16, 19 and 25 – and a son, 21.
He also had a one-year-old grandson, a two-year-old granddaughter and two grandsons on the way.
Jazmyn said her dad had some mental-health issues and drug problems that resulted in his leaving the province and continuing to distance himself from the family.
She believes he lived in Alberta for awhile before moving to Abbotsford, and he spent some time working in construction.
Jazmyn said her dad had little contact with family or friends over the years.
“I think every so often he would contact my aunt … From what she told us, it wasn’t that he didn’t want to come back; it was because he thought we were better off without him.”
She said the last time they heard from him it sounded like he was getting better and working on getting clean.
The next thing they heard about Lajeunesse was from police, informing them he had been killed.
“We hadn’t heard from him for years, so this was just very sudden and unexpected,” Jazmyn said.
She said investigators told her grandfather, Lajeunesse’s dad, that they had talked to other homeless people in the area, and they described Lajeunesse as a “very helping man” who was kind and well-liked.
Jazmyn said the family hopes to have a memorial service in Manitoba.
“It’s a lot about closure after not being able to see him for so many years,” she said.
The campaign can be found at gofundme.com by searching “Help bring him home.”
Meanwhile, the investigation into Lajeunesse’s killing is being led by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT). Anyone with information or dashcam or CCTV footage from the area on Jan. 8 between midnight and 3 a.m. is asked to contact the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.