The sound of bagpipes, laughter and some tears were heard from a Metchosin property last Wednesday night.
Neighbours of Martin Payne, a Metchosin resident who was found dead in his home on July 12, gathered to reflect on his life and what had occurred in their community.
About 20 individuals came together on a wooden bridge that led to the home of Payne’s neighbours — Kym Hill and Charles Knighton. A table with flowers, candles and some refreshments was placed off to the side.
While chatter amongst neighbours took up most of the hour, the sound of a stream — the same one that passed by Payne’s home — permeated through the gathering.
“It’s been my medicine,” Hill said about the stream.
Hill and Knighton decided to host the gathering to show the strength of the neighbourhood. While many of the neighbours expressed shock over Payne’s death, a resounding sense of community was also present, with individuals offering to check in on and be there for each other moving forward.
“Let’s just be great neighbours and show how strong we are as a community,” Hill said at the start of the gathering. “It reinforces how great our neighbourhood is to each other.”
Hill’s home is on a dead-end street lined with trees. The homes on it are set far back from the roadway and she said neighbours often keep to themselves.
While Payne was described as a solitary man, neighbours spoke about their interactions with him.
Some talked about his love for the outdoors, with one individual noting the longest conversation her husband had with him was when they ran into each other outside in Jordan River.
Another neighbour said she walked her dogs by his home often and if he was working on his all-terrain vehicle or bike, he’d make sure the motor was quiet so the dogs wouldn’t be scared.
Star Fuoco, a long-term resident on the street, remembers welcoming him into the community and having a long conversation with him a few years back.
“He was a musician and had a guitar on his wall,” Fuoco said. “It was really nice.”
Next door, police tape and officers remained at Payne’s home. One officer joined the group for a moment of silence and the playing of bagpipes.
Bagpipes play at a gathering held by neighbours of Martin Payne. West Shore RCMP found 60-year-old Payne dead in his Metchosin home on Friday. “It could have been any of us,” one neighbour said at the gathering. pic.twitter.com/eQdxtIWTZN— Shalu Mehta (@ShaluMehta32) July 18, 2019
The Vancouver Island Major Crimes Unit, West Shore RCMP, RCMP E Division Serious Crime Unit, Forensic Identification and specialized resources from the RCMP and other police agencies continue to investigate Payne’s death, in which foul play has been confirmed.
Knighton, who remembers seeing the police tape next door and the police cars on the street on Friday, said he has been in a state of shock since then.
“You just look around and just listen, this is a place of peace and harmony,” Knighton said. “A lot of us moved out here for that peace and I know that Martin did too … It’s unbelievable what happened. No one deserves this.”
A quote, read out by Fuoco and written by the author Gunilla Norris, touched on the ability of homes to become sacred spaces.
“We do not need cathedrals to remind ourselves to experience the sacred,” she read, as the neighbours nodded in agreement.
Many expressed moving to the area for a sense of peace, calling it a special neighbourhood.
Hill said she knows the community will be able to reclaim the peacefulness in the area and hoped that Wednesday’s gathering would serve as one way to go about it.
“Goodness prevails,” Hill said. “The power of our community prevails and this proves it.”
While the community looks to heal, police continue to pursue “all avenues of investigation,” according to Sgt. Raj Sandhu, acting officer in charge for West Shore RCMP.
“We are still seeking witnesses to come forward who may have seen the victim’s red Ford F150 pickup, B.C. licence plate 743 2HY between the afternoon of July 8 and July 9 at 1 p.m,” Sandhu said. “The public [is] asked to review any security and vehicle dash cameras that may have captured the Ford F150. The truck is an extended cab 4×4, two-tone red/grey, running boards, with a black metal headache rack and black bed rails.”
Payne’s truck was found in Oak Bay on Woodburn Avenue on July 9.
Police are asking anyone in the Metchosin area between the evening of July 7 to midday July 9 who may have observed suspicious activity to contact police. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit information line at 250-380-6211.
The victim’s family have requested privacy while they grieve and are working closely with investigators to gather more information.