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Family, friends offer tributes to Maple Ridge victim

Robert Spinella was father of two, who had his own autobody repair businesses
Police are investigating the suspicious death of Robert Spinella. (Facebook/Special to The News)

Family of a man whose body was found in a rural area of Maple Ridge wants people to know that Robert Spinella was a father with many friends and family members who loved him.

They paint a picture of a family man who suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle crash, whose life then spiralled downward.

On Thursday, Ridge Meadows RCMP asked the public for help in their investigation of Spinella’s suspicious death.

His body was found in the 14300-block of 224th Street in Maple Ridge on Saturday, May 27.

In particular, Mounties are asking anyone with information as to his whereabouts between May 17 and 27, or other information, to contact them.

Friday morning, after the news broke, Spinella’s friends and family contacted The News. His daughter Julia sent a recent photo, to replace the police mugshot, and asked again that people come forward with information.

READ ALSO: Police investigating suspicious death in Maple Ridge

His son Jeremy sent The News his thoughts about his father’s life.

“Growing up my father was my hero,” he wrote.

“He was endearing, charming, loving, and super charismatic. He knew how to handle being in large crowds of loved ones and never shied away from being true to himself,” Jeremy shared.

“He was always planning these massive family gatherings, barbecues, parties, and get-togethers. He loved to get the family together. It was his favourite thing to do,” he recounted. “His network of close friends was plentiful, so my sister and I had dozens of aunt and uncle figures, all of whom treated us like family. I believe they saw how much our father loved us and cared for us, and anyone who was part of the circle would have been inspired by that love.”

He described his father as a skilled autobody technician and painter, who owned his own businesses.

He was also a minor soccer coach for his children’s teams. He started out as an assistant coach with Coquitlam Metro Ford team with this son. Then he became the head coach for four years. He was coach of the year after taking his team from a losing record to becoming the top team in the league, and qualifying for provincials.

“These last 12 years or so have been very tough for him. He got into a motorcycle accident and suffered a serious shoulder and head injury. I think many of us noticed that his head injury was slowly but surely taking a toll on him,” wrote Jeremy.

His father fell into addiction, and “made some bad decision,” he added.

“Head injuries coupled with drug addictions is no joke. And although he seemed to be deteriorating physically and mentally, we never questioned his good intentions. I think he just didn’t have the mental means to be as strong as he was throughout his entire life,” Jeremy wrote.

“He had his demons, and I know he tried like crazy to fight them off, but life can be incredibly hard. I know he is at peace now, but I also know that our family does not deserve this uncertainty. He did not deserve this sort of exit into a better place. He deserved better.”

Anyone with information, who has not already spoken with police, is asked to call Ridge Meadows RCMP’s serious crime unit at 604-463-6251.

READ ALSO: Surrey RCMP recover stolen car containing loaded gun, jerry can of gasoline

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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