For friends of Arlene Westervelt, news that her husband Lambertus “Bert” Westervelt has been charged with murder in her death was long-awaited, they said outside the courthouse on Monday.
“Finally,” said one friend, who declined to give her name.
“After three years,” added friend Lori Kolacz.
But for friends of Bert Westervelt, the news is “unbelievable.”
“We’re all just devastated by what happened,” said Bert’s friend, Theresa Frank.
“We all loved Bert. He’s just like our rock.”
“It’s not just him to do something like that,” added Diane Miller.
The reactions came Monday, after Bert Westervelt made a brief first court appearance following his arrest Friday for second degree murder.
The Southeast District Major Crime Unit revealed late Saturday that the investigation into the 2016, death of Arlene, 56, resulted in the arrest of her husband, Bert, 63.
In the days that followed her death, RCMP said that Arlene’s death was a tragic accident. She had been canoeing with a family member late on the afternoon of June 26, 2016, when their canoe capsized. Police said the family member was rescued by a passing boater, but Arlene could not be found.
Despite an extensive search of Okanagan Lake by local fire and rescue personnel that evening, Arlene’s body wasn’t recovered until the following day.
She was found in 35 feet of water, approximately 100 feet from the shore, by trained divers with the RCMP underwater recovery team.
“Bert Westervelt was taken into police custody without incident on Friday afternoon in Lake Country,” said RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey of the Kelowna Regional Detachment, in a news release.
“RCMP Southeast District Major Crime investigators are very grateful for the public’s assistance throughout the course of this investigation,” said O’Donaghey.
The case is scheduled to return to provincial court April 15.
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