Bill Murphy was a quiet person who kept to himself most of the time.
According to his neighbours at the mobile home community in the 32300 block of Lougheed Highway, 86-year-old Murphy was a “good guy” and “very pleasant.”
He died last week in a deliberately set fire that consumed his trailer, and neighbours and friends are still in disbelief.
The retired ironworker was originally from Prince Edward Island, and had a half-brother and nephew who lived close by.
“Everyone was friendly with him,” said Sylvia Cruickshanks, who lived across the driveway from Murphy.
“You couldn’t find a nicer person,” added Herman Spanell, who moved to the park four years ago. Murphy was already living there at the time.
Several neighbours checked in on the elderly man occasionally, and brought him treats such as cookies at Christmas or a plate of turkey dinner at Thanksgiving.
“He had trouble walking and he had other health problems,” said Spanell.
“Bill was lonely,” shared Brent White, who visited his friend several times a week, but didn’t live at the park. “He used to call me three times a day every day and we’d just talk. He never had many friends.”
White met Murphy 23 years ago when they lived across from one another on Cherry Avenue. White is from Nova Scotia and the Maritimers developed an instant bond.
Even after Murphy moved away from his Cherry Avenue home more than 10 years ago, the two friends continued to see each other regularly.
“He didn’t have family,” explained White. “I was more family to him than anyone else.”
As Murphy’s health deteriorated over the past couple of years, White visited more often. He drove him to the grocery store, the bank, doctor’s appointments, and anywhere else Murphy needed. At one point, White jokingly told his friend he wasn’t his personal taxi driver.
Murphy loved to make people laugh, recalled White, who chuckled every time Murphy told the same jokes and stories. “It would make his day if he made you laugh.”
Murphy was also a very caring man, said White. “He’s the nicest guy in the world. He never said anything bad about anyone. He had a heart of gold … I can’t imagine anyone who would want to hurt him.”
Homicide investigators continue to probe the cause of a fatal fire that occurred around 5 a.m. on April 30. The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called in after local police and fire officials determined the blaze was intentionally set.
IHIT is working with Mission RCMP, the fire department and fire investigators to look into the background of the deceased, examine any suspicious activity in the area, and collect evidence, explained IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Adam MacIntosh.
“Investigators have established that this was an arson, but they do not consider it a random act,” said MacIntosh. “We’re looking at all possibilities.”
Investigators have not released any information about the cause of the fire or where it started, but are asking anyone with information about this arson to contact them at 1-877-551-4448 of Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if you want to remain anonymous.