When Randy Janzen updated his Facebook profile just after noon on 7 May 2015, his friends and family were shocked to the core. “Over the last 10 days I have done some of the worst things I could have ever imagined a person doing” he wrote. This Canadian husband and father then went on to confess to the murder of his 19-year-old daughter Emily Janzen, his 56-year-old wife Laurel Janzen and his sister Shelly Janzen, ending his post with the statement “I am taking full responsibility” and apologising to anyone he has hurt through his actions.
As police began to receive calls concerned for the family’s safety, friends frantically tried to get hold of Randy Janzen, praying this Facebook declaration was some form of sick joke. The truth however, was far worse.
Police first arrived at the home of Shelly Janzen in Langley, British Columbia, a former dog groomer who had recently began delivering newspapers for a living. They found her delivery van in the driveway and days’ worth of papers on her front porch with no signs of life from inside the house. When they gained entry they discovered her body with two gunshot wounds to her head.
Realising the Facebook confession of Randy Janzen was real, they moved onto the family’s home in Rosedale, just east of Chilliwack in British Columbia. Surrounding the house they called for 50-year-old Randy Janzen to come out, hoping to intervene in whatever plans he had next. Spotted at an upstairs window they knew he was alive and actively ignoring their presence and their requests. A four-hour standoff ensued with police continuously trying to persuade Randy Janzen to come out of his house, surrender his weapon and himself but they had no success.
As the four-hour mark ticked around thick black smoke began to pour out of the house. Randy Janzen it appeared had set fire to his home locking himself inside. Gaining entry specialist teams tried to search the property to find anyone alive to pull out before the flames took hold. They were pushed back by the intense heat but before they backed out of the front door in retreat they spotted a body, clearly deceased and wrapped in a sheet.
It took three days to fully extinguish the flames which had engulfed the Janzen home and for the house, totally destroyed by the fire, to be safe enough to search. When they were able to go in, the bodies of Emily and Laurel Janzen were found downstairs, and Randy Janzen was laid out on a bed upstairs with a long barrelled shotgun lying next to him.
“This investigation is extremely complex, involving two crime scenes and potentially multiple victims. At this time, IHIT believes that this incident is not random and the suspect and victims were related to each other,” – Sgt. Stephanie Ashton.
Randy Janzen had murdered his family, brutally taking their lives and then chose to tell his friends, family and acquaintances about his actions through his social media account. In his Facebook confession, he explained why he had carried out multiple murder.
His daughter Emily was a beautiful young girl with a fantastic operatic voice which she hoped she could make into her career. She was however struck with chronic crippling migraines which robbed her of her life plans and much of her social life. For the previous 18 months, her family had struggled with her condition. Unable to find medications to keep the pain under control, Emily was suffering on a daily basis.
Randy Janzen explained how he could no longer watch his beloved daughter suffer. How her condition was making her miserable. “I just could not see my little girl hurt for one more second,” he wrote. “I took a gun and shot her in the head and now she is migraine free and floating in the clouds”. A father who felt so helpless and frustrated watching his daughter in pain every day he decided by taking away her pain forever, he was helping her.
The murder of his wife, he wrote, was to save her from the pain of dealing with her daughter’s death. “I shot Laurel because a mother should never have [to] hear the news her baby has died,” he said. He went on to explain that days after the murders he decided to take the life of his sister, Shelly, as he didn’t want “her to have to live with this shame I have caused all alone”.
Both his wife and daughter had previously used their social media accounts to express their feelings on dealing with Emily’s condition with one tragic tweet from Emily just days before her murder expressing that despite her pain she felt grateful to be alive.
Friends of the family and of Randy Janzen were horrified and shocked by his actions, finding the man they knew and the man who had carried out these murders difficult to comprehend as being the same person.
Almost 12 months after the murders, the coroner released his reports on the four deaths and confirmed the time line of events leading up to Randy Janzen’s Facebook post and his own suicide. Randy Janzen had killed his daughter first by firing one shot into her head. He then shot his wife in the same way, with best time of death estimates putting these shootings taking place on 28 April 2015.
For eight days Randy Janzen stayed inside his house with the bodies of his family before travelling across town to his sister’s home on 5 May 2015 and killing her with two shots to her head. He returned to his home and two days later, on 7 May 2015, he told the world of what he had done.
“He never hurt a fly in his whole life. He wasn’t a monster”. – Childhood friend
Randy Janzen did not have a history of violence or any “homicidal or suicidal ideation” the coroner reports. His GP was aware that he was finding his daughter’s illness stressful but there were no signs that he posed a danger to himself or to his family. This case saw the tragic loss of four lives due to the devastation of one man who made the decision that helping his daughter meant taking her life. He had reached his own personal breaking point and while sympathy can be felt for his frustrations as a father, his actions were a selfish response to a situation he found unbearable. Emily Janzen and Laurel Janzen, while also suffering, did not make the decision to end their lives, nor did his sister, Shelly Janzen.
In deciding to confess to murder using Facebook, Randy Janzen was able to explain his actions and provide some dialogue of why he did what he did. This, however, will be no comfort to those left behind trying to deal with the consequences of his actions and mourning the loss of people they loved.