Brenda and Steve Smith with a photo of Derek Descoteau. It’s been five years since Derek was murdered in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brenda and Steve Smith with a photo of Derek Descoteau. It’s been five years since Derek was murdered in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

It was mid-day on May 20, 2016, when a shirtless man suddenly loomed over a couch and started stabbing.

Derek Descoteau, then 20, and his girlfriend Janelle Guyatt were in the basement suite of Descoteau’s dad’s house in Chemainus, eating lunch and watching a movie. Descoteau died that day from multiple knife wounds. Guyatt survived, albeit requiring several surgeries for nerve damage that will never completely heal.

Five years later, the pain still fresh and the case still before the courts, Descoteau’s friends remain a constant source of comfort to his family.

“We are still so thankful that Derek’s friends have continued to welcome us into their lives – so many stories, memories, tears and laughs,” noted mom Brenda Smith of Duncan. “Janelle and her parents, Leah and Bill, have become an important part of family. We are amazed at the strength Janelle showed throughout her surgeries, constant pain and physical rehabilitation. She’s just a beautiful girl inside and out, she is a hard worker and is now focused on her future.”

“As the five-year anniversary approaches, all the intense emotions that we first experienced on that horrific day come rushing back – it seems like yesterday.”

The trial of Colin John, the man accused of the second-degree murder of Descoteau and the attempted murder of Guyatt, opened in 2018, but remains unresolved – partly due to a long period of determining his mental fitness to stand trial and partly due to COVID.

The future that was taken away from Descoteau for no apparent reason is still tough for the family to fathom. But the amazing will of his friends to never forget him has provided strength to Brenda, her husband Steve, Derek’s dad Paul and his wife Tammy, Derek’s sister Paula Phillips and family, and numerous other relatives.

The family had already experienced tragedy just three years before Derek’s death when his brother Dustin was killed in a car accident.

Memories of both brothers are forever linked to a memorial cruise that started after Derek’s death and the DD memorial site on the road to Port Renfrew that has grown to include a pathway, garden, seating area and overall tributes. People linked to the pair make a habit of stopping there regularly.

“The Renfrew memorial cruise was our ritual to celebrate Derek’s life, but with COVID it will be cancelled for the second year,” said Brenda. “We visit the site often in small groups, but it’s not the same.”

Regardless, the site will always remain a place of healing.

“Every time we drive up, we literally bump into somebody there spending the afternoon,” said Brenda. “We’re just totally surprised for how much respect people have for the site – just seeing all the signatures, people from all over. I think this site is what saved us. It’s a place so many people use.”

There has also been a memorial ball tournament in honour of the brothers that ran for two years in 2018 and ‘19 before also being halted by COVID.

Related story: Heartfelt memories of Derek Descoteau four years later

Related story: Father’s anguish remains three years after son’s murder in Chemainus

Related story: Strong support surrounds Descoteau’s family

“It’s just non-stop the respect all of his friends have for him,” Brenda said. “We focus all that energy on positive thoughts and trying to be strong for all the people around us.”

While there’s no replacement for the losses, their family from all the friends has actually grown larger.

“They all feel like my kids,” said Brenda. “Five years later, his friends are starting to get engaged, buying houses, having babies and we’re sad that Derek never got to fulfill his dreams and we will never know what his life would’ve looked like.”

Her husband added his wife isn’t someone who’s going to curl up on the couch.

“You’ve got to deal with it, but nothing’s going to change the fact he’s gone,” reasoned Steve Smith.

Derek was very industrious and likely would have been well set up, approaching the age of 26.

Related story: Trial opens for accused in 2016 Chemainus murder

The entire family has obviously followed John’s case very closely. He currently remains at the Colony Farm Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, pending the continuation of his trial.

The prosecution side of the trial wrapped up in August of 2019 before the defence lobbied for an assessment of John’s mental fitness. He was deemed fit to continue by the Review Board in October of 2020.

There will be a formality this August for the court to confirm he is fit to stand trial that’s due to resume in mid-November with the defence side of the case.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

crimemurder trial

 

Crowd of friends participating in pre-pandemic memorial cruise at the DD Memorial site. (Photo submitted)

Crowd of friends participating in pre-pandemic memorial cruise at the DD Memorial site. (Photo submitted)

The DD Memprial site on the road to Port Renfrew has grown into a great park and garden setting. (Photo submitted)

The DD Memprial site on the road to Port Renfrew has grown into a great park and garden setting. (Photo submitted)

Derek Descoteau’s loyal dog Harvey at the DD Memorial site. (Photo submitted)

Derek Descoteau’s loyal dog Harvey at the DD Memorial site. (Photo submitted)

The plaque on Derek Descoteau’s memorial bench on the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The plaque on Derek Descoteau’s memorial bench on the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Just Posted

Ridge Meadows RCMP held a torch run event at MRSS to support Special Olympics. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows RCMP hold Special Olympics Torch Run

Officers joined by two Special Olympians for annual fundraiser

Former ARMS president Geoff Clayton told councillors that Maple Ridge city hall has a legacy of protecting the Alouette River. (Special to The News)
ARMS, Katzie, public blast riverfront subdivision plan

Public hearing for opposes development on South Alouette River

The Pitt Meadows Orange Heart Project creates hearts from card stock and vinyl. (Special to The News)
Pitt Meadows Orange Heart Project taking off

Family will be guests of Katzie for blanket ceremony

The BC SPCA Lock-In For Love raising money for animals in need of a new home. (BC SPCA Maple Ridge Branch/Facebook)
Lock-In raising money for the Maple Ridge SPCA

The BC SPCA Lock-In For Love ends June 24

Ridge Meadows RCMP seized drugs, cash and guns from a house on Lougheed Highway and 221 Street. (Special to The News)
RCMP seize drugs, cash and guns from Maple Ridge house

Items were recovered after search warrant executed on Lougheed Highway home June 11

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read