It’s been nearly a year since the body of Luke Durling was found inside a Keremeos, B.C., home, and still his family says they have many unanswered questions surrounding Durling’s cause of death.
On Feb. 20, 2022, RCMP were called to a home in the 100-block of 9th Avenue around 11 p.m. for reports of an unresponsive man.
The Southeast District Major Crime Unit was called in to investigate what police said was a homicide.
“Initial belief of investigators is that this was an isolated and targeted incident — likely between people who were known to each other. We don’t believe there is any risk to the general public,” said BC RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet in the initial RCMP press release.
“Evidence at the scene led investigators to believe that his death may have been criminally linked. With that in mind, Southeast District Major Crime investigators were called in to assist in the investigation.”
Carol Dunbar, Durling’s mother, says she was shocked to hear that her son had been the victim of a homicide.
“When the police knocked on my door, that dreaded knock that every parent hates — telling me that Luke was deceased and he was a victim of homicide. It just destroyed our world,” said Dunbar.
“To my knowledge, Luke has never been arrested. He’s never been in jail. He did have addictions, but he wasn’t a violent person or a criminal to my knowledge.”
To Dunbar’s surprise, the final Coroner’s report from BC Coroner Service confirmed her son’s cause of death was an accidental overdose with no obvious signs of trauma, and that RCMP ruled out foul play.
“The process needs to change. No family, as far as I’m concerned, should ever be told your loved one is a victim of homicide until the police are ready to give you all the full details,” said Dunbar.
“There was no homicide it was an accidental drug overdose. And that’s devastating to the family to be given that information, it’s just the trauma and the pain that you feel when you lose a child – that just magnifies it.”
Global News spoke with BC RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau who said RCMP erred on the side of caution due to evidence on scene that suggested his death was suspicious.
Further investigation later determined that his death was an overdose.
“What did they see on the scene that would make them jump to that conclusion that it was a homicide and criminally related,” said Dunbar.
“There had to be something, and these are the answers that we’re looking for.”
Dunbar admits that she has struggled to find closure without any answers from police.
“I shouldn’t have to fight for this. The grieving family shouldn’t have to fight for answers,” she said.
“To them the case is closed; to us, it’s not. We don’t have the answers. We need to make closure and to try and progress in the grieving process.”
While Dunbar continues to grieve the loss of her son, she is hopeful that no family will have to live through what she calls a painful and frustrating process.
“We miss him so much and we’re devastated that he’s gone. Luke tried to, he wanted to get better — with different stories and different ways I think the system failed, but they’re all different stories,” said Dunbar.
“It’s been almost a year and it feels like day one, every day. It’s hard, very, very hard.”
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