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Police called to Kelowna home multiple times before roommate’s murder: Witness

Lorence Williams is facing charges of second-degree murder after his alleged role in death of his roommate Thomas Chadwick
Lorence Williams was charged after an incident that resulted in a death in Rutland on May 30, 2021. (Kelowna RCMP/Submitted)

On the sixth day of a Kelowna murder trial, a 12-person jury heard the tear-filled testimony of a woman who claims to have been one of the first people to find the bloody body of the man who she says was like a brother to her.

Lorence Williams is facing charges of second-degree murder after the May 30, 2021, death of his former roommate Thomas Chadwick.

In Kelowna court on March 11, the accused wore a polo shirt and quietly sat and took notes from the BC Supreme Courtroom’s prisoners box while witness Katherine Reimer gave testimony under direct examination.

Reimer said at the time of the incident, her boyfriend Cornel Fisher was both the landlord and upstairs resident of a house on Sexsmith Road in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood. Chadwick and Williams lived in the basement.

READ MORE: Trial starts for Kelowna man accused of killing roommate

Reimer said she considered Chadwick to have been like a brother or uncle to her and cared for him.

At the time of the incident, Reimer was in the midst of moving her belongings into the house on Sexsmith to live with Fisher. Williams had been asked to move out of the basement room, and when he did not comply the situation allegedly escalated and police became involved.

While on the stand, Reimer described two instances where the police had been called to the house in the days prior to Chadwick’s death.

Reimer alleges that Williams called the police himself on the afternoon of May 28, in relation to a verbal disagreement about the eviction.

After police left, an altercation allegedly took place between Fisher and Williams where the accused slammed a door so hard it “shook the whole house,” said Reimer.

Williams then allegedly left the house and returned later in the evening.

Two RCMP officers also arrived at the house, but Reimer claims she does not know who called the police. The Kelowna RCMP have previously stated that they responded to two wellness checks for Williams on the day before Chadwick’s death.

Reimer said that on the evening of May 28, Williams did not want to enter the house but he wanted to collect his belongings. Reimer alleges that police instructed her, Fisher and Chadwick to pack up all of Williams’s belongings into bags and carry them out onto the driveway. She said the trio packed and ferried bags of Williams’ belongings up from the basement with the help and supervision of the RCMP.

Williams allegedly left with only two small bags of items and did not return.

Since a storm was rolling in and it was late, Reimer said all of Williams’s belongings were then transferred into the back of a pickup truck that was parked in the driveway and covered with a tarp.

The bags containing Williams’ belongings were still in the back of the truck the following morning, said Reimer. Before leaving for the day she wrote a note for Williams explaining that his belongings were in the back of the truck. She also wrote she was concerned for him and wished him the best. A photo of the note was entered into evidence.

Reimer said that she was concerned for Williams and noted that she had found his behaviour and anger worrying for the past few days.

At approximately 9 p.m. on May 30, Reimer and Fisher returned home to find Chadwick standing in the driveway where he told them that Williams had briefly stopped by the house but did not take any of his things.

Reimer and Fisher then made dinner and Chadwick went outside. Reimer told the court that she thought Chadwick went outside for a cigarette.

When dinner was ready, Fisher allegedly called out to Chadwick; “Uncle Tom, it’s time for dinner,” but did not hear a reply. The lack of response was not unusual, said Reimer. She explained that Chadwick could get lost in thought or immersed in an activity and she often left his dinner in the fridge for him to eat later.

Chadwick’s dinner was put away and Fisher and Reimer got ready for bed shortly before 10 p.m.

“I didn’t realize how much time had passed since he went outside,” said Reimer.

Reimer said she was already in bed when Fisher realized he needed to make sure the windows to his vehicle were closed since it had started to rain.

Reimer said when Fisher walked outside he started yelling that Chadwick was dead.

“The next thing I know he started yelling and yelling,” said Reimer through tears.

She rushed outside and saw Chadwick lying at the base of the stairs, surrounded by blood.

Earlier in the trial on March 8, the court heard testimony from expert witness Dr. Jason Doyle, a forensic pathologist, about the results of the autopsy that was performed on Chadwick shortly after his death.

READ MORE: Doctor who performed autopsy questioned in Kelowna roommate murder trial

Doyle said that Chadwick likely died as a result of multiple bouts of blunt-force trauma to his head.

A piece of wood was found by police at the scene of the murder and Crown Counsel Daniel Belanger alleges that the log was used as the murder weapon.

Doyle agreed with the hypothesis and said that based on the injuries, Williams may have bludgeoned Chadwick to death with the piece of wood.

Doyle also said that the examination revealed numerous face and skull fractures, bruises and lacerations likely caused by blunt force trauma. Reimer said they called the police immediately.

Williams was then arrested on May 31, after police received a tip as to his whereabouts.

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP arrest suspect in suspicious death investigation

B.C.’s police watchdog was also called in to investigate the Kelowna RCMP, and whether their actions or lack thereof, in relation to Williams’ mental wellbeing, contributed to Chadwick’s death. The police were subsequently cleared of wrongdoing.

The 45-day trial is scheduled to continue daily throughout March.

Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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