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

A key in the lock of a door. (File photo)
Sicamous residents say lack of long-term rentals detrimental to town

A couple who have lived in Sicamous for 27 years and want to stay might have to leave

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Brodie Stuart and her mom, Mikel Stuart, gather for the celebration at Parkview Elementary on June 18, 2021. (Zachary Roman - Eagle Valley News)
Three Shuswap parents honoured for combined 34 years of volunteering

Parkview Elementary parent advisory council members surprised by appreciative flash mob

Centennial Field in Blind Bay will be the site of Market by the Bay on Thursday nights starting June 24, 2021. (Columbia Shuswap Regional District photo)
Forty vendors expected for new Market by the Bay in the South Shuswap

Market starting June 24 to be situated at Centennial Field in Blind Bay

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to collect donations ahead of Kristy Handel’s 33-kilometre run for Chelaine McInroy (pictured) to cover costs for a new prosthetic leg after her June 12, 2021, surgery. (GoFundMe)
Salmon Arm woman runs to raise funds for friend’s new prosthetic leg

33-kilometre Run for Chelaine to help athlete cover medical costs from latest surgery

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read