British Columbia

Lisa Dudley's mother hears her daughter's dying words for 1st time at inquest

Lisa Dudley, who was killed in a targeted attack in Mission, B.C., in 2008, asked a paramedic to tell her parents that she was sorry, and that she loved her mother. That dying message hadn't been shared with her parents before the coroner's inquest.

Dudley sat paralyzed in chair for 4 days before neighbour found her, shot in targeted hit

Rosemarie Surakka, Lisa Dudley's mother, found out on Tuesday that her daughter had shared a dying message for her, but in the 10 years since her death, it hadn't been passed on. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

UPDATE: Inquest into Lisa Dudley murder provides no relief for neighbour who reported gunfire 

Lisa Dudley, who was killed in a targeted attack in Mission in 2008, had a dying message for her mother, which was told to a paramedic, but wasn't shared with Dudley's family for nearly 10 years.

Dudley was shot at a home in rural Mission, B.C., but sat paralyzed in a chair for four days before a neighbour found her. A police officer dispatched to sounds of shots fired reported by neighbours never got out of his patrol car and did not talk to the man who made the 911 call. 

The advanced life support paramedic, Peter Smith, finally shared Dudley's words on Tuesday during testimony at the coroner's inquest into her death.

"I recall I had to have my ear really close to hear her," said Smith. "I remember her hot breath on my ear, and she was whispering, the personal types of things that she was trying to say."

Smith said a supervisor had told him never to repeat the message to anybody, and he said he hadn't until Tuesday.

"She did at one point, give me a message to give to her parents," the paramedic said before a long pause. "She wanted me to tell her parents she was sorry and tell her mother that she loved her."

Dudley's mother, Rosemarie Surakka, broke into tears in the courtroom upon hearing her daughter's dying words for the first time.

Smith testified that he regretted not being able to share them sooner, saying, "I felt horrible that I've never been allowed to say it."

Immediately after his testimony ended, Smith and Surakka left the courtroom together and spoke privately in the hallway.

"It was a relief to finally find out what Lisa went through in those days," said Surakka during a break. "I was shaken to my core when he told me that she was sorry and to please tell me … that she loved me. I'm sorry, my mind is just spinning."

Surakka said she had asked police and a coroner early in the investigation if her daughter had said anything before she died but was told that Dudley had not.

"I'm so angry that we have a police force that is so cold and callous that they would try and keep me from something like that," said Surakka.

This photo of Lisa Dudley, who was killed in a targeted attack in 2008, was entered as evidence at the coroners inquest into her death. (B.C. Coroners Service)

RCMP officer Kylie Sabo also testified on Tuesday that Dudley had been able to communicate with her before dying, though Sabo described the amount of information being minimal and didn't mention the message to her mother.

"She was trying to speak," said Sabo. "She was struggling."

The court heard other testimony from police and paramedics about the final moments of Dudley's life, including the effort to keep her heart beating as paramedics transported her to a nearby helicopter.

Smith testified that that he had to cut Dudley's hair away from the chair she was found sitting in, because the blood had long dried since she'd been shot.

He told the court that he and other paramedics were staged nearby for "quite a long time … about 30 minutes," before police told them it was clear to approach the house. 

He shared graphic details about the crime scene, and described Dudley looking directly at him when he entered, mouthing the words, "Help me."

Thomas Holden pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy to commit Dudley's murder.

Holden and Dudley had been partners in an illegal marijuana grow ring, but after their personal and business relationship soured, Holden paid a hit man $25,000 to kill her.

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About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker


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