A former Abbotsford man who was charged over the weekend for the murder of Surrey teen Serena Vermeersch has been in and out of correctional institutions since the age of 15.
During his sentencing hearing in April 1992 for the brutal sexual assault of an Abbotsford museum worker, the court was told that Raymond Lee Caissie had a history of violent and sex-related crimes.
He had been expelled from 15 out of 16 schools he attended – including kindergarten – for disruptive behaviour, according to an Abbotsford News report at the time.
Crown counsel at the time told the court that “every therapy” had been tried on Caissie, then 21 years old, and “there is nothing new on the horizon.”
In sentencing Caissie to 22 years in jail, Justice Stuart Leggatt said Caissie’s pre-sentence report – a general assessment of an offender – was “one of the most pessimistic” he had seen in his nine years on the bench.
Caissie was sentenced for the sexual assault that occurred on July 21, 1991 and for a purse-snatching that took place two days later.
He had been granted parole only two weeks before the incidents for a kidnapping that had taken place in Dreyden, Ont. in 1989.
He was living on Pauline Street in Abbotsford at the time he entered Trethewey House – the home of the MSA Museum Society – on Ware Street, and came across a lone 21-year-old female student who was working there for the summer.
He threatened her with a knife, forced her to strip, and then twice sexually assaulted her.
Caissie then drove with the woman in her vehicle until they came to the south end of Gladwin Road, where he took her to a secluded wooded area on the American side of the border.
He forced her to perform a sex act, tied her to a tree, and left.
Two days later, he grabbed a purse from another woman, and he was arrested the following day.
Caissie pleaded guilty the following year and was sentenced on two counts of sexual assault with a weapon, one count of robbery and one count of unlawful confinement.
Caissie was the subject of a public warning by the B.C. Corrections Branch in June 2013 when he was released from prison after serving his full sentence and was living in Surrey.
Earlier this year, Caissie was sentenced on two more charges, receiving a three-month term for failing to report to his parole officer, and a 21-day jail term for shoplifting at a Surrey Winners store.
The Integrated Homicide Investigaton Team (IHIT) held a press conference on Monday morning to announce that they had arrested and charged a man with the murder of Vermeersch (in photo), 17.
The body of the teen had been found on the evening of Sept. 16 in an area densely covered in brambles, near railway tracks in the 14600 block of 66 Avenue in Surrey.
Vermeersch’s death was quickly deemed a homicide, as well as a random attack, and Chief Supt. Bill Fordy said investigators worked around the clock to identify and locate the person responsible.
At the time of the IHIT press conference, there was some confusion about a publication ban around the accused’s name, but the ban was lifted on Monday afternoon and it was revealed that Caissie, 43, had been arrested in Vancouver and charged with second-degree murder.
On Tuesday, Surrey Mayor Diane Watts said she was outraged that a high-risk sex offender had been charged with killing Vermeersch. She questioned why he was allowed go free when he was still considered dangerous, even after serving 22 years.
“It’s senseless that another young life is taken,” she said.
– with files from Tracy Holmes and Kevin Diakiw