Locals anxious as Sarnia police probe link between 2 latest homicides

·3 min read

Sarnia police are probing a possible link between the deaths of two people in a matter of days, as a January with four homicides has sparked concern in the city.

The city's fourth homicide victim of 2021 was identified Wednesday as 62-year-old Allen Schairer of Sarnia.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told CBC News that Schairer was a retired parks and recreation city worker. The man was found dead Tuesday at a home in the 500 block of Devine Street.

Schairer's death is the second killing in the region in less than a week and fourth since the start of the year.

On Saturday, police found 66-year-old Sue Elin Lumsden of Sarnia dead at a home in the 200 block of Essex Street.

"I would say the public here is more than anxious," Bradley said. "They're very concerned about their personal safety and their families, it's a legitimate concern to have."

He said he thinks what's happened is a result of the "drug epidemic," COVID-19 and the "frustration of being isolated."

Linda Mills, who lives in the area where the latest homicide took place, says she feels "nervous" and that it was "hard sleeping" last night after hearing the news.

Havard Gould/CBC
Havard Gould/CBC

In a news release Wednesday, police are asking people to search their properties for any piece of identification belonging to Lumsden. If anything is found, police say residents should not touch the item but immediately call police.

Officers of Sarnia Police's Criminal Investigations branch are also asking the public to help in their ongoing investigation of the deaths by providing any video surveillance within the following boundaries:

  • Exmouth Street to the north.

  • Christina Street to the west.

  • LaSalle Line to the south.

  • Highway 40 to the east.

Police are looking for footage captured between 5 p.m. on Jan. 22 to 8 a.m. on Jan. 23 and 7 p.m. Jan. 25 to 7 a.m. Jan. 26.

Officers ask that video footage be placed onto a memory stick and dropped off in an envelope, with contact information, to Sarnia Police Service Headquarters at 555 North Christina St.

Police said residents can expect to see more officers around as they will be going door to door to see if they have any information or video surveillance.

Two other homicides believed to not be related

These deaths follow two others that occurred in the first two weeks of January. On Jan. 14, police arrested and charged a 45-year-old Sarnia man with first degree murder following the death of 39-year-old Natalie Bartlett.

And just days before, a 32-year-old man was arrested and charged with second degree murder after 26-year-old Luis Enrique Hernandez was found injured and died in hospital.

Police told CBC News they don't believe these deaths are connected to the most recent ones.

Bradley said local police had asked the OPP for assistance and Const. Giovanni Sottosanti of Sarnia police said they have brought in officers from other parts of the local service to help investigators.

"Our officers are working around the clock. We've drawn in resources from our own department. So, officers that have worked in criminal investigations in the past have been brought in again to assist in this investigation," he said.

Bradley also said he is offering additional resources to the police department as they are "stretched" following the four deaths.

Once the homicide investigations wrap up and after COVID-19, Bradley said he would like to work on a neighbourhood watch strategy that would have community members look after each other.

In a news release Tuesday, police asked locals to secure their doors and windows and check in on elderly family or friends.