Arrest made in murder of January Lapuz

An arrest has been made in the case of January Marie Lapuz, who was found in her New Westminster home with stab wounds and died on Sept. 30.

Charles Jameson "Jamie" Neel, 20, was arrested by the integrated homicide investigation team on Dec. 5 in connection with Lapuz's death, according to a press release from New Westminster Police.

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He has since been charged with second-degree murder and is scheduled to appear at New Westminster court today, Dec. 6.

The team is still investigating the motive for Lapuz's murder. No further information is being released now as the case is before the courts, the release stated.

On Sept. 29 at 10 p.m., police responded to a home in the 500-block of Third Avenue where a person was reportedly stabbed.

Ambulance paramedics took Lapuz to hospital, but she died just before 6 a.m. on Sept. 30.

Witnesses in the area told police about a man seen running from the scene, and investigators asked for the public's assistance in locating the man.

Twenty-six-year-old Lapuz, who was born with the name John Carlo Embo Lapuz, legally changed names in 2008.

According to a 2009 online 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," wrote 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 Vancouver," he added.

When reached by The Record in early October, Sangha was still in shock about his friend's death.

He 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.

"She was a bright light and shining star of Sher Vancouver," he added.

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