MISSION, B.C. — The homicide of a P.E.I. native who has been living here for the past several decades has left a community in shock and police in pursuit of a murderer.
William “Bill” Murphy, 86, died last month when a fire consumed his trailer located in the mobile home community in the 32300 block of Lougheed Highway.
The blaze occurred around 5 a.m. on April 30 and was ruled by local police and firefighters as arson.
Brent White, who has been friends with Murphy for 23 years, described him as having a “heart of gold” and that the death has left the community reeling.
“Everybody is just devastated, the people in the trailer park and everyone that knew Bill,” White said during an interview with The Guardian. “That man did not deserve that … Nobody deserves it, but especially Bill because he never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was honest to God a good person and everyone liked him.”
White said he is unsure of exactly where in P.E.I. Murphy was originally from but that he often spoke of Montague.
“I don’t think he lived in Montague but he used to talk about it all the time . . . he still has a niece or sister or something like that down in the area but I’m not sure who it is,” said White, who is originally from Lockeport, N.S. “We were both Maritimers so we just hit it off together and were buddies all along.”
The Guardian was unable to locate any of Murphy’s remaining family members at the time of publication. The newspaper was also unable to get a comment from RCMP officers in B.C.
However, the Mission City Record reported over the weekend that the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is working with the local police and fire department on the case.
An RCMP spokesperson told the newspaper while the blaze has been established as arson, they do not consider it a random act.
White first met Murphy when he moved in next door on Cherry Avenue more than two decades ago.
He believes Murphy had already been living in the area for about a decade before then.
He said Murphy had no children himself and was already retired from his career as an ironworker in northern B.C. when they first met.
“He retired and decided to come out to Mission. Why come to Mission? I have no idea and if he ever told me it was probably 15 or 20 years ago,” said White.
While Murphy later moved to the trailer park, about a three-minute drive from Cherry Avenue, the two kept in touch and White recalled sharing laughs, going for a lot of drives and bringing many meals over to his friend during those years.
White last saw Murphy when he gave him a drive to the bank two days before the fire, on a Monday.
White said while he was busy with family on Tuesday, he had made plans to meet up with Murphy again the next day.
Instead, he received a call at 7 a.m. Wednesday informing him that his friend had died.
He said he’ll be following the RCMP investigation and is confident police will find the arsonist.
“They’re really checking everyone out and I’m glad they are, they’ll do a good job,” he said. “And I’ll keep bugging them every month or so until they do find him.”