The Port Alberni RCMP have arrested a suspect in the 2012 murder of Mervin Hankins.
“On Feb. 26, 46-year-old Channon Coulter—previously a resident of Port Alberni—was arrested without incident for the second-degree murder of Mervin Hankins,” RCMP Inspector Mac Richards said at a press conference.
Hankins was found dead in his Fourth Avenue home on Jan. 13, 2012 by a relative. He was 75.
“His son-in-law discovered him unresponsive and lying on his living room floor,” said Richards.
“Port Alberni RCMP responded and in speaking with Mervin’s son-in-law, noted there to be a number of items missing from his residence. Early on, investigators believed that Mervin was killed during a break-and-enter.”
Port Alberni RCMP, with the aid of the E-Division Major Crime Unit, investigated the murder over the next four years, Richards said.
Hankins had been the former caretaker of the GK Apartments one block further down Fourth Avenue (one of them has since been demolished following a fire a couple of years ago) from the residence where he was found dead.
Richards said that no connection between Hankins’ employment and his death had been found.
There was also no connection discovered between the death of Hankins and the home invasion and robbery of Reino Koivunen, 83, three days prior in 2012.
Hankins’ family has asked for privacy and his son, Joseph Hankins, provided a statement to the police that RCMP Const. Aaron Aasen read out at the press conference.
“It’s hard to know where to begin to describe the impact that my father’s death has had on myself and our entire family. It has been over four long years since my father was taken from us and not a day goes by that we don’t think of him. Our lives changed forever on Jan. 13, 2012.
“My father was a retired veteran with the Royal Canadian Navy and was 75 years old when he was taken from us. He left behind a large family and missed out on the opportunity to see his grandchildren grow up. His murder has deeply impacted us all, including his daughter who also passed away a short time later.
“Today, we stand before you with a sense of relief that someone has been arrested for the murder of my father. We realize that the road ahead is long and we will now been preparing for the court proceedings. We hope that we will eventually be able to find peace and closure in our lives. I would like to close by thanking the Port Alberni RCMP for their dedication to this case for the past four years and bringing us to this point. We ask that everyone please respect our family’s privacy as we process this new information.”
Richards said that Coulter has appeared in Port Aberni court but will likely be transferred elsewhere to be tried.