A Surrey man who died in prison while serving a sentence for a manslaughter conviction has been linked to the case of a missing Abbotsford woman.
The News has learned that Darryl Cole, 44, was a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Candace Shpeley, missing since March 31, 2007.
The single mother, who was 23 at the time, left behind two young daughters and a son.
Cole was convicted of beating Michael Gerald Larson to death with a bat during a marijuana grow rip in Surrey in December 2007 and was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison.
He was found dead in his jail cell in Kent Institution in July of this year. Foul play was not suspected.
Sgt. Jennifer Pound, spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), which is handling the Shpeley case, confirmed Cole’s connection.
“He was a person of interest in that he was one of the last people with Candace before she disappeared,” Pound said, adding that many others are also considered “persons of interest” in the matter.
Candace’s father, Barry Shpeley of Chilliwack, said he is aware that Cole was with his daughter in the days before her disappearance.
“From what I gather, he was the last person to see (Candace).”
Barry said he met Cole once for a few minutes at Candace’s home in Abbotsford about three weeks before she disappeared.
He does not believe the two were in a relationship.
He attended Cole’s sentencing hearing in the manslaughter case earlier this year.
“There were a lot of questions I wanted him to answer, but he wouldn’t speak to me.” Barry hopes that anyone who knows what might have happened to Candace comes forward.
On the day she went missing, she had lunch with her brother at an A & W restaurant in downtown Chilliwack. She visited friends in Surrey that evening, and Cole might have been among them.
Also that night, RCMP ran the licence plate of her car twice while it was parked outside a suspected drug house, but it is not known whether Candace was at that residence.
She was scheduled to pick up her kids the following day, but never arrived.
Her green 1995 Pontiac Grand Am was found nine days later in the area of Renfrew Street and 17 Avenue in Vancouver.
That vehicle has been in the possession of police. It was released to Barry on Wednesday at the City of Abbotsford’s operations yard on King Road, and he hopes that new photos of it might bring forth more information.
Pound said it has taken this long for police to complete a full forensic exam of the vehicle. She urged anyone with information to contact IHIT.
“I know we have had leads but as the years go by, people think that the information is too small or perhaps they just forget, but releasing a vehicle and having it stimulate the public like this hopefully will bring people forward.”
Barry and his wife are raising Candace’s two daughters – who were five and six when she disappeared – while her son, who was two, lives with his dad. Barry said they would all like to know what happened.
“Our lives have continued on. It’s a little hard some days. You always think about her … We’d just like some closure…”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-4448 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.