An arrest in a cold case that spanned almost a decade has given a Port Alberni family a measure of relief.
Larry Darling, 51, was arrested in Surrey on Sept. 11 and charged with one count of first degree murder in connection to the death of then 28-year-old Kristi Morrey in 2006.
“Today we stand before you, strong, knowing that someone has been arrested,” said Jaclyn Koning, Morrey’s cousin, reading from a statement during a press conference Tuesday at the Port Alberni RCMP detachment.
“Our initial reaction was shock, relief and with a heavy heart, betrayal.”
According to Inspector Chuck McDonald, officer in charge of RCMP E Division Serious Crime Unit, former Port Alberni resident Darling was Morrey’s ex-boyfriend at the time of her death. The two had ended their relationship a month prior.
“On Aug. 20, 2006, 28-year-old Port Alberni resident Kristy Morrey was found murdered in her Beaver Creek residence,” McDonald said.
“The charge of first degree murder has been laid in relation to Kristy Morrey’s homicide.”
Darling was originally considered a person of interest in the 2006 investigation but police did not have the evidence for an arrest.
Darling moved to Alberta in 2009 for work but returned to the Lower Mainland a year later. He was residing in Abbotsford at the time of his arrest last weekend.
“We’ve gathered information, analyzed evidence… in some cases we’ve reevaluated evidence,” McDonald said of the cold case.
“In 2013, the B.C. RCMP Serious Crime Unit was asked to support the investigation and provide a fresh set of eyes,” said McDonald.
“We are the last piece of the puzzle that has taken nine years to solve.”
Modern forensic technology not available to the police at the time of the crime helped the police discern new evidence, he said.
“A homicide investigation is complicated and with the amount of time that elapsed, sometimes new forensic tools become available to us,” said McDonald.
New information also became available as the investigation continued.
“With all that coming together, we reached a point where the Crown approved charges.”
Morrey had gone to work at Gone Fishin’ on Aug. 19 before going to a wedding reception at Cherry Creek Hall, said McDonald. She left the reception and returned home with friends, who then left in the early hours of Aug. 20.
“When friends called her later that morning and didn’t get an answer, police were called and Kristy was discovered deceased in her bedroom,” McDonald said.
“We believe this was an isolated incident and the why and how will ultimately be provided during the upcoming judicial process.”
The drawn out investigation has not been easy for Morrey’s family and friends.
“It has been nine long years since Kristy was taken from us and not a day goes by that we don’t think of her. Our lives changed forever on Aug. 20, 2006,” said Koning.
“Kristy had a great zest for life. She was always most comfortable and happy outdoors. Kristy was a true fisherperson rain or shine, and had a great compassion for animals for their wellbeing—especially cats, as she had five of them.
“She cherished her friendships and above all she loved her family and was never afraid to show this.
“Kristy was only 28 years old and had her whole life ahead of her and so much to live for. She talked about travelling, marriage and starting a family. All this was taken away from her nine long years ago.”
Darling was due to appear in Port Alberni court Wednesday (Sept. 16).