Harley Lawrence's death leads to 1st-degree murder charges

Two people face first-degree murder charges in the death of Harley Lawrence, the man whose body was found in a burning bus shelter in Berwick, N.S., last fall.

Homeless man found dead last October in burning bus shelter in Berwick, N.S.

The full media conference. 2 people charged with 1st degree murder. 13:24

Two people face first-degree murder charges in the death of Harley Lawrence, the man whose body was found in a burning bus shelter in Berwick, N.S., last fall.

Daniel Wayne Surette, 26, and Kyle James Fredericks, 25, were arrested early Friday morning, ending months of suspicion and mystery surrounding the case of Lawrence's death.

The 62-year-old man's body was found in the morning hours of Oct. 23. At the time, he was homeless and sleeping on the streets of Berwick.

There is still no official cause of death. Witnesses told CBC News they saw two young men fill up a jug with gasoline shortly before the bus shelter was engulfed in flames. 

In a statement, Nova Scotia RCMP expressed hope that the arrests and charges would help the victim's family heal.

Daniel Wayne Surette of Berwick has been remanded in custody. (Facebook)

"To Harley's family, thank you for having the confidence in the RCMP to complete a thorough investigation that brought us today’s charges," Supt. Darrell Beaton said.

"We hope today will be a step forward in the healing process for Harley’s family and the entire community."

Ron Lawrence said his brother would be glad there are charges.

"It shows that the case is moving forward … and knowing whoever did this to him is going to be held accountable for it."

He said it's still frustrating to not know the cause of his brother's death.

"It's been a long winter," he said. "We have to stay calm."

Sordid histories with justice system

"More will come out as it goes on … it will be an outcome at the end."

Both of the accused have sordid histories with Nova Scotia's justice system.

Kyle David Fredericks was also arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of homeless man Harley Lawrence. (CBC)

Surette pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a female victim who was under the age of 16 in late December 2010. He was sentenced to 90 days in custody, plus placed on probation.

He pleaded guilty to assaulting his mother on New Year's Day 2011. He received a one-year suspended sentence in that case.

Fredericks was tried and acquitted in the death of Joshua Graves.

Death rocks small town

Graves died on March 19, 2011 after taking a lethal mix of alcohol and Dilaudid at a house party in the Annapolis Valley the night before.

Police said as far as they know, there is no relationship between the two accused and the victim.

Surette and Fredericks are set to appear in court in Kentville on Monday.

Six months after Lawrence's death, a new bus shelter stands where he died. But the memory of his gruesome and public death hasn’t faded. Residents say Berwick hasn't been the same since.

"People were scared. They're still scared to walk at night to come out. I'd come through at nine o'clock and it would be like a ghost town. It was really, really dead. People are still not feeling safe," Stanley Viner said.

Lawrence's brother has said Lawrence began drifting away from his family in his mid-20s, became paranoid and refused help from relatives. He had been living in Berwick for a few months before his death, and locals said he slept in the bus shelter each night.