Painful road ahead for homeless man's family

Two men were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Harley Lawrence

BERWICK, N.S. – A pastor in a Nova Scotia community where a homeless man’s body was found in a burned out bus shelter last year says there is some relief in murder charges being laid in the case, but cautions that a painful road lies ahead for the family of Harley Lawrence.

John Andrew, who is a family friend and knew Lawrence through the homeless shelter he runs in Kentville, N.S., said the healing won’t truly begin until the case has gone through the courts. He said hearing the details of what lead to the 62-year-old man’s death on Oct. 23 in Berwick, N.S., will be difficult for the family and for the rural community of about 2,500 people in the province’s Annapolis Valley.

“At first, there was a bit of relief,” said Andrew in a phone interview on Saturday. “But now we’re going to have to hear details that maybe we didn’t want to hear, hear things we didn’t want to know. “The ultimate moving on will happen once we have a conviction and sentencing.”

Police have released few details about Lawrence’s death and have not said how he died. On Friday, police charged 26-year-old Daniel Wayne Surette of Berwick and 25-year-old Kyle David James Fredericks of Berwick District with first-degree murder. Both suspects are being held in custody this weekend until they appear in court in Kentville, N.S., on Monday to face the allegations against them.

Berwick Mayor Donald Clarke said some residents of the town were skeptical that the investigation would lead to charges, while others were patient. “There were naysayers that said, ‘Nothing will happen because this man was homeless’,” said Clarke on Saturday. “I think that’s proven to not be the case. “It was a relief for everyone to find out the (police) work had come to fruition.”

In the days that followed Lawrence’s death, a candlelight vigil was held in his memory at the site of the bus shelter where his body was found last fall. People in the town said Lawrence was often seen sitting outside the local Tim Hortons or wandering down the street with his belongings in a large plastic bag.

Residents said Lawrence began using the shelter for refuge as temperatures dipped last fall. Ronald Lawrence has said his brother had a mental health problem that wasn’t diagnosed, but it seemed to surface when he was about 25.

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