Nearly thirteen years have passed with no one being convicted for the brutal murder of a man whose body was found on the grounds of United Concrete in Williams Lake.
That despite a suspect having admitted to it and implicating another man later found guilty in another homicide.
For Peter Schnellhardt’s older sister, Petra Bunn remains a wound that time has not healed.
“It’s been almost 13 years and it’s just been horrific really,” she said.
“We had the murder happen and then three years later there was an arrest and then that fell through. So it’s kind of like you’re hit in the hit head twice. You didn’t expect the murder to begin with and then you didn’t expect to have it fall through either because the RCMP told us that it was a hundred percent slam dunk going forward and that there was going to be a conviction.”
“So you go with that and you think that everything’s going to be okay and then it’s not.”
A suspect who cannot be named due to a publication ban was arrested in 2009 after he told a woman (Jane Doe) he was romantically interested that he and another man were responsible for Schnellhardt’s murder.
A confession in an online chat was recorded and presented as evidence in the 2011 trial held in Kelowna. The judge, however, said during the five-day trial that he doubted the reliability of the confession and acquitted the suspect who suffered a brain injury after Schnellhardt’s death and was known to brag to impress women.
The other man named in the confession as a hitman in Schnellhardt’s murder would later be convicted and sentenced to eleven years in prison for manslaughter and indignity to human remains in another BC homicide.
“I would hope that if there was anybody who had any information that they would take a step forward too,” said Jane Doe.
“I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and think if that had been my brother what would I want to see done, what would I want to do, and I would also hope that people come forward. I would want to see a conviction, I would want to know what happened, and I know a lot of people live in fear because of this and I don’t think it’s fair that they get to live in fear or have to live in fear.”
“I’ve had to as well since it first started with everything, and it’s really not fair that myself and the victim’s family have to live like this because we did nothing wrong,” she continued.
“If one person would take some responsibility and come forward with more information, that person would be doing such an amazing thing and it would help the victim’s family and myself be free from this weight of everything holding us back. But back to the question, I would absolutely testify again and I do think that this case needs closure because there wasn’t any whatsoever.”
Schnellhardt was 39 years old at the time of his murder that occurred one month after he had gotten a job at United Concrete as a truck mechanic.
“I was the live-in babysitter,” Petra said of her younger brother who had learned how to take motors apart and build things from their father who like him later became a truck driver.
“I was very close to my brothers although when I moved away from home then that kind of changed because then I got married and started my own family and they were still younger and they had their own friends and stuff like that, but we were always close as a family. We got together for Christmas and birthdays.”
“I really miss him. He was a really good guy and he had a lot of really good friends.”
Laury Wallace who met Schnellhardt in the late 80s and worked with him at different jobs throughout the years agreed that Schnellhardt would do anything to help you.
“Peter wasn’t into a lot this stuff that was portrayed. He was really portrayed to be a bad guy and he wasn’t a bad guy,” Wallace said.
“He was the type to help people out on the side of the road. I’ve known him to be that way….I hope eventually in time here that someone will be convicted of murdering Schnellhardt.”
Having hired private investigators, writing countless letters to officials, and even self-publishing a book to try to draw more attention to the case, Bunn said she will continue to fight for new charges and a review of the trial.
“I think there are people in Williams Lake who know what happened to my brother, but there has been very, very few that have come forward to the RCMP, and I don’t know why that is or what’s going on but I don’t think it’s right,” she said.
“I mean this is a murder and it’s a serious thing and it has been 13 years. I think that it’s time if somebody knows something they should come forward especially when one of the suspects in my brother’s murder is currently in prison.”