West Shore RCMP Const. Tad Narraway stands watch outside 2557 Jeanine Dr.

West Shore RCMP Const. Tad Narraway stands watch outside 2557 Jeanine Dr.

Former local faces murder charge

A former Vanderhoof resident, Joseph Knelsen, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of a 53-year-old Langford resident.

A former Vanderhoof resident, Joseph Knelsen, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of a 53-year-old Langford resident.

West Shore RCMP found the body of Gordon Brian Berg in the main living quarters of a residence on Jeanine Drive in Langford last Monday, just before 11 p.m.

Police attended the residence after they received a phone call saying that a man there had been murdered.

Knelsen was the only suspect in the investigation and was located in Langford at 7:15 a.m. last Tuesday.

A spokesperson with the RCMP in Victoria has said Knelsen was arrested without incident in a public area.

“He was arrested…near Western Speedway which is a motor-cross track that they have out in Langford – so he was out in a public area,” Corporal Darren Lagan told the Express on Thursday.

Knelsen was remanded in custody and appeared before a Justice of the Peace later the same day.

On Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. he made his first court appearance at the Western Communities Provincial Court for the murder charge. Police say they anticipate further charges to be laid in the coming weeks including a possible charge of forcible confinement.

Knelsen was remanded to the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre where he awaits his next court appearance, which is on March 16 in Supreme Court in Victoria. Cpl. Lagan said he could not speak to what the next court date is for.

“I would think it would be more of a hearing to determine his continued detention,” he said.

He added that during this period of remand, the accused is likely to be meeting with his lawyer.

Officers with the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, the West Shore RCMP and the RCMP Forensic Identification Section continued to investigate the murder scene until the end of the day on Wednesday. Investigators are now working on analyzing obtained evidence.

“There was a significant amount of forensic evidence at the scene that will have to analyzed and processed,” said Cpl. Lagan.

The Victoria Police Dog service was called in to help and worked through Monday night.

“It’s fairly routine to have a dog do a search of the perimeter to see if there’s any tracks because at that point we don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with…whether it’s someone who has fled on foot,” said Cpl. Lagan.

He added that there were no significant findings from the police dog services.

The RCMP Island District Tactical Troop attended the murder scene on Wednesday to conduct a grid search of the property surrounding the home.

It is believed that Berg was living in the basement suite of the property with another woman, who was in the house at the time of the homicide. She is believed to have fled the property with another female who lives upstairs. While police will not confirm the identities of the two women, they have said they have two females’ witnesses under police care who are cooperating with the investigation.

An autopsy on the deceased’s body was conducted in Vancouver on Wednesday. It is likely results will only be revealed during the court process.

While Cpl. Lagan said investigators had not revealed the nature of the relationship between Berg and Knelsen, he said this was not a random incident and that the two men were familiar to each other “in a friendly sense.”

Berg is believed to have grown up in Prince George. Relatives of Knelsen said they did not know Berg.

Knelsen grew up and spend much of his life in Vanderhoof, but moved to Langford about ten years ago.

He was one of 12 siblings, and family members in Vanderhoof say they had no idea about the murder charge until they were contacted for comment by the Times Colonist newspaper last week.

“He can’t call us,” one of Knelson’s sisters Betty Peel told the Express on Thursday.

“Apparently you cannot make a collect call from a prison phone so he’s been trying and trying and trying to reach us and he can’t get through,” she said.

She added that the news is a terrible shock and totally out of character for Knelsen.

“Joe’s kind, he’s quiet, he tries to be everybody’s friend,” she said.

“We’re just trying to cope with the news…we have no idea what could have gone wrong or how something can come to this…we’re just all in shock.”

“This is not him -he keeps to himself and he gets along with everyone in his family…his nieces and nephews love him to death – he’s rocked them to sleep more times than anyone – this is just not him,” she said.

On Friday last week however, Knelsen was finally able to get in touch with Peel.

“It was me that he called at 6.22 p.m. on Friday and it was a very good conversation,” Peel told the Express on Saturday.

“It was awesome, absolutely awesome just to hear that he was okay,” she said.

Peel confirmed that Knelsen does have a lawyer now, but she could not say who he was.

“He can’t really tell me any details – but he told us that he was not guilty with what he’s being charged with…he just confirmed what the family has believed all along,” she said.

“Now we just have to sit back and wait and everything has to fall into place,” she added.

He’s doing very well under the circumstances.

Peel said her brother moved to Victoria over a decade ago because he loved it there, but often came back to town to visit.

“He would come every once in a while to visit his mum,” said Peel.

She added that he came back for a longer stint in 2008 to obtain his class three gravel truck driver certification.

His most recent visit was in 2009, but Peel said he calls his family often.

Most recently he called a couple of weeks ago asking for some money from his brother.

She added that as far as the family was aware, he wasn’t in a long-term relationship and didn’t have any children.

Peel wasn’t sure where he was working at the time of his arrest but most recently she said he had been working at a wrecking yard.

She said that while the family would have liked him to have made some money and a better life for himself, it just wasn’t in his character.

“Joe never got a decent job because he didn’t want to cut off his hair or his beard and first impressions go a long way,” she said.

“But he’s a very loyal person he just never got the job that we would have liked him to have and make a little money and make better for himself – he was happy with nothing and that was his problem – he doesn’t need a lot to be happy in his life,” she said.

Peel said that while Knelsen did use to smoke marijuana, as far as the family are aware he has never been involved in dealing drugs or anything of the like.

“When he was younger he had dabbled in marijuana but as far as we knew he had stopped – it had been at least two years that I know of,” she said.

Peel said that the family is not sure when they will be heading down south to visit Knelsen.

“We have no idea what we’re doing – our first instinct is that we have to see him but no one knows what were doing right now,” she said.

Cpl. Lagan said that as the incident is now before the courts, police will not release any further details on their investigation.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

Steve McAdam (left) is studying substrate conditions in the Nechako River and how they impact sturgeon eggs. The work will help design habitat restoration measures, said McAdam. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Sturgeon egg studies to help inform future habitat restoration

“It’s an interesting, challenging issue,” says Steve McAdam

Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof addiction treatment centre tries again with ministry support

Agriculture minister insists she is not interfering in land commission

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read