Violent murder remembered ten years later
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011 6:34PM EDT
On the May 24 long weekend in 2001, 20-year-old Howard Joel Munroe was attacked, beaten and fatally stabbed in Kitchener's Victoria Park.
Now, ten years later, his family says the memories are still clear in their minds.
Howard's sister, Kiesha Munroe, says "It's so fresh and it's there all the time. I get the question at work, like so many people come up and you can't forget that night, that horrific night."
Vesta Simon is Howard's aunt, she says "On Monday, I was going to visit someone at the hospital, and as I drove through the park I realized that my whole body became kind of tingling and I said to my sister, 'I always drive through this park, but I never felt like this before,' and I said, 'the weekend is coming near.'"
At the time, detectives worked tirelessly to catch the killers, one suspect was believed to be the leader of a local street gang. CTV reporter Art Baumunk covered the story.
Police were careful as they slowly tried to build their case, one that eventually became one of the biggest homicide investigations in the force's history.
Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Chris Downey says "There were so many people in the park. Interviews and re-interviews of people involved. When the case was finally completed in court…there were 99 banker's boxes of files. It was a huge investigation."
But police were determined, "Our chief at the time made it known this is the number one priority for the service. This case is to be solved," Downey says.
Two and a half years later three men were arrested, including Dirk Young, the purported leader of the Slingers street gang, who led the attack.
Young was convicted of second degree murder, along with Robert Barges, who stabbed Howard. David Miller was found guilty of manslaughter.
There had reportedly been a running feud between the Slingers gang and a group that Howard was part of.
Downey says "The police focused very intensely on that, a Slingers group, and with the leader so to speak being convicted of this particular crime and frankly with the passage of time...the group, per se, ceased to exist."
That group may be gone, but the memories of Howard's family remain.
Keisha had two sons after his death, and she says she told her youngest son Thursday that he looks just like him.
"And he says 'I don't think I know who he is.' I said 'He's gone,' but it made me really sad that I'm looking at my son and he looks just like my brother."