Opinion Column

Arrest in Surrey mom’s murder a remarkable feat

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

A mourner places a picture of murdered mom Julie Paskall amidst lit candles during a candlelight vigil in Surrey on Jan. 18. (REUTERS/BEN NELMS)

A mourner places a picture of murdered mom Julie Paskall amidst lit candles during a candlelight vigil in Surrey on Jan. 18. (REUTERS/BEN NELMS)

The arrest of Yosef Jomo Gopaul in the murder of Julie Paskall was certainly welcome news and a testament to the hard work done by the members of IHIT, who put their case together patiently and deliberately.

In a record year for homicides in Surrey, Paskall’s killing was the last and most shocking because it was so unlike most of the murders in the south Fraser community last year. This wasn’t drug dealers killing other drug dealers over territory or debts. This wasn’t gang bangers killing gang bangers.

This was a mother and dedicated volunteer killed while waiting to pick up her son at the Newton Arena.

We tend to shrug and move on when many homicides hit the news. This one was different. Paskall was a wife and a mom. Her husband, Al, is a longshoreman. They were a typical blue-collar, working couple raising a family and getting through life when tragedy struck.

It shocked because it could be anyone. The media typically used the term “hockey mom” when describing her. She wasn’t involved in a so-called “high-risk lifestyle.” She was like you and me.

Little is known about Gopaul at this point. There is reason to believe he has been previously charged with sex assault in Ontario in 2010. Or, at least, a man with the same name was. This, perhaps, alters people’s perception as to a possible motive in the attack.

Police were tight-lipped at their press conference and no further information came out of Gopaul’s arraignment hearing on Monday. But the community can take solace in the arrest and incarceration of a suspect. Any appetite for more information will have to wait for trial.

What did become clear was the scope of the investigation to unearth a prime suspect about a month after the crime.

Random, stranger-on-stranger murders are the most difficult to clear. The fact that the suspect had only moved to Surrey from Ontario eight weeks prior, and likely didn’t know too many people, makes the arrest even more remarkable.

Once a suspect is identified, IHIT will often put a lot of resources into building a case, including around-the-clock surveillance — a costly and labour-intensive endeavour especially when undertaken over a period of months.

It’s all too easy to criticize the police when a snippet of unexplained video shows up on YouTube. But this case is a testament to their professionalism and determination.

Well done.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.





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