A group of friends and supporters of Naomi Onotera’s family protested against her accused killer getting bail on Tuesday morning at the Surrey Provincial Courthouse.
Onotera, a Langley City resident and schoolteacher in Surrey, disappeared at the end of August last year.
Her husband, Obnes Regis, was arrested on Dec. 17 and has been in custody since then, facing charges of manslaughter and indignity to human remains.
After the hearing, the Surrey court registry advised that Regis was still in custody and had not been released, and he would next appear in court on Feb. 18 to set a trial date.
Some of those who gathered outside the courthouse did not know Onotera in life but were there to offer support, while others had known her for years.
“Naomi was one of my friends since high school,” said Lisa Drozda.
She first met Onotera when she transferred to Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Grade 9. Onotera welcomed her into her group of friends, and they stayed friends into adulthood, Drozda said.
“She was an important part of growing up for me,” said Drozda.
Onotera even reached out when she heard Drozda’s child was having some trouble in school and helped with tutoring. Drozda described her friend as selfless, someone who gave up her own time to make the lives of others easier.
She hoped the protest would have some impact on the court’s decision on whether or not to grant bail.
“I hope that it shows that there are a lot of people that are supporting Naomi and her family,” she said.
About half a dozen people arrived for the protest outside, and more hoped to enter the court and see the proceedings.
Onotera’s disappearance drew a great deal of interest from friends and her school community after she was last seen around Aug. 28.
Over the following months, her friends and family launched a campaign to find her, papering Langley and surrounding areas with missing person posters, and searching the woods and fields in and around Langley City.
In September, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called in to assist the Langley RCMP with the investigation, and by late in the month an extensive, days-long search was made of Onotera’s Langley City home.
There were further searches in December, including a vehicle being towed from the home under police supervision.
Shortly after that, police announced the arrest of Regis.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org