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Seven years without justice in Lindsay Buziak murder

Jeff Buziak displays one of the signs he distributes each year during an annual walk through Saanich in memory of his daughter Lindsay, who was murdered in February 2008. Buziak is struggling to retain his faith in the justice system as the case marks its seventh anniversay on Monday. Despite no arrests, Saanich Police say the investigation remains active. - Daniel Palmer/news staff
Jeff Buziak displays one of the signs he distributes each year during an annual walk through Saanich in memory of his daughter Lindsay, who was murdered in February 2008. Buziak is struggling to retain his faith in the justice system as the case marks its seventh anniversay on Monday. Despite no arrests, Saanich Police say the investigation remains active.
— image credit: Daniel Palmer/news staff

In the seven years since Jeff Buziak’s daughter was brutally stabbed to death, not a month passes without an email or phone call to remind the 60-year-old father that those who plotted her murder haven’t yet paid for their crime.

Buziak tirelessly pursues those leads – even arranging meetings with anonymous tipsters in the hope of discovering some nugget of new information – and forwards the information to the Saanich Police Department, while his belief in the justice system continues to unravel.

“I’ve met gangsters in garages at midnight and phoned guys up and emailed, but what good does that do you,” says Buziak, staring intently through circular, bronze-coloured frames at a busy Saanich café.

“They’re not going to say, ‘Yeah sorry, we didn’t mean to do it.’”

Lindsay, a 24-year-old real estate agent, was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008 while showing an unoccupied Gordon Head home to a well-dressed couple.

Despite a continuing investigation, Saanich Police have not publicly identified a suspect in Lindsay’s murder and no arrests have been made. As the anniversary date approaches each year, it only amplifies the rage felt by her father.

“My daughter was executed,” says Buziak, who lives in Calgary and returns to Saanich each February for a 17-kilometre walk in Lindsay’s memory.  “I want to kill somebody. But then I think, ‘No. I’ll just be doing the same thing they did.'”

“They” remain elusive, at least to those observing the complicated case without the full picture.

Few details have been made public, but police revealed in 2010 that a woman used a pay-as-you-go cell phone to arrange a viewing with Lindsay at the murder scene. The Vancouver-based caller had a thick, Spanish-like accent, Lindsay told her father and friends. She expressed unease about the meeting, and said the woman and her husband wanted to purchase a property within two days. The couple was prepared to spend upwards of $1 million for the right location.

About half an hour after meeting the supposed buyers, Lindsay was discovered by her then-boyfriend on the second floor of the De Sousa Place residence, her body butchered by stab wounds. He has since been ruled out as a suspect.

Police estimate the murder took place between 5:38 and 5:41 p.m.

In 2010, NBC’s Dateline TV program featured Lindsay’s murder and Saanich police revealed a flurry of information about the brutal killing. Dateline’s analysts believed Buziak was an innocent party, and that her murder was a targeted hit arranged by someone close to her. Insp. Rob McColl, one of two lead investigators interviewed by Dateline, told Saanich News in 2011 that police agreed with that conclusion.

At the time, police had narrowed down the investigation to “three or four” working theories and had interviewed an estimated 1,400 people.

Knowledge is powerless

Buziak believes he knows the people involved in his daughter’s murder. He shares his suspicions – as well as tips he still regularly receives – with Sgt. Chris Horsley, lead investigator on the file.

“I give them [the police] everything, they give nothing back,” Buziak says. He’s learned to live with the one-way discussion, but said it often feels like insanity.

“The police aren’t accountable to anyone but themselves. The mayor really can’t get involved with the police. You go to the police chief, who says, ‘We’re working on it.’ Well, who do you go to beyond that?”

Buziak tried unsuccessfully to file a complaint with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner of B.C. about the lack of progress on the file. He also approached the B.C. Attorney General to request that the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit examine Lindsay’s case. Saanich police joined the integrated unit in 2013.

“The province won’t get involved in an active case for political reasons,” Buziak says.

The unit typically doesn’t investigate crimes “of an historical nature,” said Sgt. Steve Eassie.

Buziak says Saanich police told him in 2010 that his life was in danger, but he’s received mostly reassurances about the progress of the investigation since that time.

Where are the arrests?

Prof. Rob Gordon, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, said upwards of 96 per cent of murder cases are solved within 48 hours, usually because the victim and offender are known to one another.

"Seven years is an enormously long period of time,” Gordon said. “There’s been a lot of speculation about connections with people who may have been involved in the illegal drug trade, or whether this was a crime of passion of some kind. … But I suspect the police probably have a fair bit of information they’ve not made public.”

Gordon said murder investigations are solved in one of three ways: strong forensic evidence like DNA, footprints or fingerprints; direct or corroborated witness testimony that places the killer at the scene; or a confession from a suspect.

“The question has to be: why would anybody want to draw a real estate agent to this particular place and then kill her in a very personal way? Stabbing is up close and personal, often associated with extreme emotional outbursts, rage,” Gordon said.

“The Buziak case is a real tragedy. The father is an aggressive advocate of his daughter and obviously wants some answers,” he said.

Saanich Police, who initially assigned 20 officers to Lindsay’s murder, refused an interview request but in a statement said the anniversary provides an opportunity to renew public awareness and garner fresh tips.

“There is still a dedicated team of investigators that are working on this file. … To share anything further could affect the integrity of the investigation,” said Sgt. Steve Eassie.

Eassie wouldn’t confirm the number of officers still assigned to the file, but said police empathize with the Buziak family and share in the desire for a successful arrest.

“I am aware that Mr. Buziak is in frequent contact with the investigators from this file, and that he has been made fully aware of the reasons why we cannot share specific details of the investigation,” Eassie said.

Other police agencies have been involved in the investigation at various times, Eassie said.

(Below: Jeff Buziak speaks to reporters during the annual walk in his daughter's memory at the entrance to Royal Oak burial park in 2012.)

A lonely struggle for truth

Buziak appreciates the direct line he maintains with investigators, but said it’s frustrating not to receive new information or know how many officers are still involved.

“All I hear is, ‘A nice policeman is working on it,’” he says. “I think the police don’t particularly like me around or wish I would just go away.”

Buziak is conflicted, and while he trusts in the justice system, he debates its effectiveness in deterring and punishing those responsible for murder. He stays strong for his children, but admits the intense pressure often leads to an emotional crash.

“That’s what I’m testing right now: Is this justice system real or isn’t it? ... The only people who can pressure police are a large number of people showing up and demanding answers or the press.”

Rewards ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 have been offered over the course of the investigation, all to no avail.

Now, with the support of a dedicated network of volunteers, Buziak spends much of his free time following up on leads in Lindsay’s murder that still arrive by email, phone or through word of mouth.

“This isn’t about me. I’m doing this for your daughter, your girlfriend, your family,” he says. “There’s a young woman who got called up to do her job and when she was working, somebody slaughtered her. … The struggle is how I deal with this. Most of my waking hours are spent on pursuing the truth, and the balance is survival.”

editor@saanichnews.com

Walk for justice

  • The fifth annual 17-kilometre walk in Lindsay Buziak’s memory departs the gates of the Royal Oak Burial Park on Feb. 2 at 10 a.m.

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