Remembering Surrey teens’ murders: ‘It sucks all the colour out of the world’

20 years after the shooting of Chris Lussier and Paul McDaniel, families don’t want them forgotten.

Sept. 11 marked 20 years since teenagers Chris Lussier (below left) and Paul McDaniel (below right) were shot to death in Surrey in 1993. A third teen

When it first happens, there is only numbness, says Wendy Chapman.

A loved one is murdered, and there are initially no feelings. Nothing makes sense. Everything seems surreal. A dark shadow is cast and you can’t fathom this is your life. There’s no reprieve from the pain.

“It sucks all the colour out of the world,” Chapman says.

Yesterday marked 20 years since Chapman’s younger brother Chris Lussier, 16, and his best buddy 15-year-old Paul McDaniel, were shot to death beneath the Pattullo Bridge.

On Sept. 11, 1993, the teens were driven to the remote spot by John Joseph Arneil, who gunned them down. A third victim, Richard Moisan, survived by pretending he was dead.

Arneil, who was then 18, had confronted the trio of teens on a Surrey street earlier that evening, telling Lussier that his girlfriend had accused him of raping her.

Arneil convinced them to stay put, warning he’d know Lussier was guilty if he left. The three remained, determined to prove Lussier’s innocence.

When he returned, he ordered them into the car and drove to a pile of dirt under the bridge where, one by one, he turned his gun on the teens. Moisan, who was shot in the face, heard Arneil say “adios” before he shot Lussier. He waited until Arneil left and later called 911, identifying him as the killer.

The girlfriend, who has since died, recanted the rape accusation eight years later.

A double-funeral was held for Lussier and McDaniel. Friends since childhood and inseparable in life, they were also together in death.

For Chapman, pushing back tears as she describes the service where everyone wore green ribbons to celebrate the teens’ lives, it feels like it all just happened.

“It’s still just as raw and just as painful as it was the first day,” she says, noting it was a second blow for her family as she had a 19-year-old sister who died during childbirth prior to Lussier’s murder. “It doesn’t get better.”

In fact, in the past few years, it’s gotten worse, she says.

Though Arneil received a life sentence for two counts of second-degree murder and one of attempted murder, he became eligible to apply for parole three years ago. Family members of both boys are alerted about hearings at least once, if not twice a year. Each time, they recount the horror, writing and reading statements to the parole board about the longterm impact the murders have had on their lives.

They don’t have to go to the hearings, but they feel compelled to do so.

“Chris needs a voice,” his sister says, noting neither family ever chose to be in the position they’re in. “It’s a club that you get dragged into, not one you want to belong to.”

Chapman says it’s not only difficult to revisit the day that turned their world on end, but they are forced to be in the same room as the double-murderer.

“You see him and have to hear his rendition of that night and his excuses.”

Though he has been allowed escorted day passes, in March Arneil was denied unescorted passes because he was deemed to still be a potential risk to society. He waived his right to a full parole hearing in August.

Yesterday, like every Sept. 11 for the past two decades, those left behind grieved the loss of McDaniel and Lussier in their own private way. Each year, Chapman lights a special candle with a green ribbon tied around it and lets it burn from morning until night. It’s always a difficult day, she says.

In October, the families are planning a more public event to remember the boys and mark the 20-year anniversary of the crime. They intentionally chose not to have it on the exact date the pair was killed – a day filled with grief.

“I didn’t want him (Arneil) to have power any more than he already has had,” Chapman says. “For 20 years, he’s breathed stolen breaths.”

A candlelight vigil is being organized for Oct. 19 at Valley View Memorial Gardens, where the boys are laid to rest, with further details and times to be announced later.

McDaniel was a talented artist with a great sense of humour, while Lussier had an affinity for computers, even though they were only just gaining popularity. Their loved ones wonder daily what their futures might have held.

“You always think of the ‘what ifs?’ ” says Chapman. “They are not forgotten.”

Just Posted

Cloverdale Rodeo finals hand out $330K to champion riders

Bareback rider Caleb Bennet tied the arena’s record with a 93.5-point ride Monday

‘It’s a game changer’: 15-year-old wins professional skateboarding contest on two skateboards

‘No one has ever seen it before’ said producer of Cloverdale contest

Winners to come to Semiahmoo Shopping Centre

Former Zellers to also include a gym and daycare

Peace Arch Hospital, Sources requesting volunteers

Program to help seniors get home safely after hospital stay

Delta looking to add over 30 dedicated pickleball courts by 2022

The program would see eight outdoor pickleball courts built in North Delta before the end of 2019

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Man arrested after police standoff and fire at Abbotsford home

Suspect allegedly breached conditions to not be near victim or her home

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

UPDATE: Highway 1 reopened after multi-vehicle crash east of Chilliwack

Westbound lanes near Herrling Island were closed for hours amid busy holiday weekend traffic

Police watchdog investigating motorcycle crash in Kamloops

A Kamloops Mountie had stopped the driver for speeding, but they raced off from the 0fficer

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Most Read

l -->