Two individuals appeared in Chilliwack provincial court Monday charged with second-degree murder for one of two homicides on July 7 near Five Corners.
Kirkland Joseph Russell and Victoria Sherri Purcell are each charged with one count of murder and one count of assault with a weapon. The two remain in custody and have been since July 22.
Russell wore a blue and black camouflage shirt when brought into courtroom by a sheriff. He smiled, winked, blew kisses, and made several gestures to a female in the gallery.
Purcell appeared separately and was wearing a black-hoodie. She appeared to wipe tears away during the brief appearance.
Russell was read a list of 15 names, including Purcell, who he is not allowed to contact. Purcell had a 14-name no-contact list read to her.
Earlier in the afternoon, Mayor Sharon Gaetz was with Chilliwack RCMP Supt. Deanne Burleigh for a briefing at the Chilliwack detachment by Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) spokesperson Cpl. Meghan Foster.
Foster had no new details beyond what has already been reported as the matter is now before the courts. She did officially release the names of the two deceased males, Doug Presseau and Steven Drage.
Russell and Purcell are charged in the killing of Presseau, but no one has been arrested nor have charges been laid in connection with the death of Drage.
Both men were stabbed to death at around 10 p.m. on July 7. One stabbing occurred in or near the old Empress parking lot at the corner of Young and Yale roads, the other down Princess Avenue. When police arrived on the scene, three individuals were found with stab wounds. The two men succumbed to their injuries. The third individual, reportedly a woman, was brought to hospital, treated and has since been released.
At the briefing Monday, Foster read a statement issued by Presseau’s family.
“Doug was a beautiful and imperfect man, much loved by his only son, his partner, his little brother, his parents, his extended family and his countless close friends,” the statement said, in part. “His sudden and tragic murder has torn a gaping hole in all of our hearts and lives and into the very fabric of this community.”
One witness to the altercation on July 7 told The Progress that both men killed were innocent bystanders who attempted to intervene to stop assaults on other individuals.
When asked about the reports that the men were possibly Good Samaritans, Foster wouldn’t say.
Burleigh addressed the issue of safety in Chilliwack, saying there was a spike in crime last year but that had gone down over the first two quarters of 2017.
She said there are more officers on the street, the drug force has grown, and the detachment has created a new “priority offender suppression team” to focus on those individuals who cause most of the trouble in the community.
“All of that is being done to address the spike that we saw in crime in the last year,” Burleigh said.
Gaetz, too, was asked about safety in the community and if Chilliwack was seeing an influx of individuals from other cities to the west. She pointed to the increased RCMP patrols and the addition of 10 new police officers hired as examples of how city hall is pushing to crack down on crime.
“The City of Chilliwack takes crime very seriously,” she said. “We are a growing community. The days of Leave it to Beaver are long gone.”
Burleigh reiterated the request that anyone who witnesses anything the night of the killings to contact police.
“This is important for the community, but most importantly it is for the family of Steven,” she said.
Russell, 34, has an extensive criminal history, according to Court Services Online (CSO), and Purcell, 29, has one charge of resisting arrest from 2007. Purcell is next due in court July 25, and Russell Aug. 1.
Anyone who saw or knows anything is asked to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-4448 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
[Ed. note: an earlier version of this story stated that Russell had “no criminal history” but that was based on a CSO search of “Kirkland Russell” rather than “Kirk Russell,” who are one and the same.]