The victim in New Westminster's first homicide of 2012 has now been identified.
January Marie Lapuz is the name of the person who was stabbed to death last week.
Twenty-six-year-old Lapuz, who was born with the name John Carlo Embo Lapuz, legally changed names in 2008.
A Facebook and Internet search on Lapuz turned up several things about Lapuz's past.
According to a 2009 post from Alex Sangha, founder of Sher Vancouver, Lapuz started volunteering as the organization's social coordinator.
"January is the first transgender person to hold a coordinator position within
Sher Vancouver," writes Sangha. "Sher Vancouver aims to create opportunities for everyone if possible and be as all inclusive as possible. Sher would like to provide people with the opportunity to give back to their communities and benefit from volunteer service.
"January has experience delivering presentations to high schools to combat
homophobia via (the) Gab Youth Services Pride Speak program at the Centre in
When reached by The Record on Thursday morning, Sangha was still in shock about his friend's death.
"I found out on Monday," said Sangha, "I'm shocked. January was so young."
Sangha said Lapuz had a positive effect on almost everyone she met.
"She was a hit right from the start," Sangha said. "She would volunteer as a host at our social events, help us out with fundraising and she'd even perform. ... She did a great Beyonce and she was a great singer and dancer. She was the life of the party. She made everybody laugh. We already miss her a lot."
Sangha said he met Lapuz through a mutual friend, Ash Brar, and she had a positive effect on his life.
"January educated me about acceptance, about not being judgmental, about being open-minded," said Sangha. "The obstacles she overcame as an immigrant, as a transgendered person, as a person in poverty, as a person working in a high-risk occupation, she really overcame a lot. ... I learned that society is not providing enough supports for people like January Marie.
"She was a bright light and shining star of Sher Vancouver."
Lapuz's death relates to an incident which occurred on Sept. 29, just after 10 p.m., when police responded to an incident in the 500-block of Third Avenue where a person was stabbed.
Ambulance paramedics took Lapuz to hospital, but Lapuz died just before 6 a.m. on Sunday.
Witnesses in the area told police about a man seen running from the scene and investigators are asking for the public's assistance in locating this man.
He is described as an Asian male, in his mid-20s, approximately 5-5 with short black hair, a muscular build and wearing a black muscle shirt and grey shorts.
As of Thursday morning, police were still looking for the suspect.
"We are still looking for the public's help in locating the suspect,"
Sgt. Jennifer Pound of the integrated homicide investigation team told The Record. "We are also still looking into a motive and the IHIT team is working with the New Westminster Police on this case."
Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact the IHIT tipline at 1-877-551-4448 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who wish to remain anonymous can contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Sangha said Sher Vancouver is organizing a celebration of life for Lapuz, but had not finalized a date as of Thursday afternoon. In addition, Sher Vancouver's annual Christmas party will honour Lapuz and another person associated with the organization, who also died this year.