British Columbia

Victim in double homicide remembered 'dancing beautifully'

For the Razzmatap dance group the deaths last week of Dianna Mah-Jones and her husband in what appears to be a random double-homicide is like losing family.

Dianna Mah-Jones 'wasn't scared of anything,' says dance teacher who knew her for almost 25 years

Dianna Mah-Jones, killed last week in a double homicide in Vancouver, was an active member of the Razzmatap tap dance group. (CBC)

One of Jan Kainer's most vivid memories of Dianna Mah-Jones is of her sense of adventure.

"She was always the one who would say, well, I think I'll go to Berlin today, when we were in Germany," said Kainer. "And we were sort of like, what? And she would [say], well, I just really want to see this and this and this."

"She wasn't scared of anything."

Kainer is the founder and choreographer of the Razzmatap dance group.

Mah-Jones was a member for almost 25 years.

Kainer said that, for the members of Razzmatap, the deaths last week of Mah-Jones and her husband in what appears to be a random double homicide is like losing family.

"It was just shocking," Kainer said.

"People are just devastated."

'She would try anything'

Razzmatap began in the 1980s as an adult tap dancing class taught by Kainer.

Before long, the group began performing and travelling the world together.

These days, the group consists mostly of older women, the oldest being 70. Mah-Jones, 65, joined when she was 40, having never taken dance lessons before.

"She was like that," Kainer said.

"She would try anything."

Jan Kainer is a choreographer and teacher at Razzmatap, a tap dancing group that Dianna Mah-Jones was a part of for almost 25 years. (CBC)

A dedicated therapist

Kainer recalled Mah-Jones' unwavering dedication to her job as an occupational therapist, from inventing devices to help her mobility-challenged patients to organizing work Christmas concerts.

"Giving a person independence is what she did, and she thought about it a lot," Kainer said.

"She'd say, I have a patient who can't lift his arms more than this, and I've got to figure out a way for him to be able to feed himself. [And] sure enough, she'd come up with something where he could pull a string and this and that, and pretty soon he was feeding himself."

Mah-Jones' husband, Richard Jones, had a physical disability himself.

Dianna Mah-Jones, 65, and Richard Jones, 68, as they appeared in an image on their Airbnb listing. The listing has now been removed. (Airbnb.ca)

No indication anything wrong

The last time Kainer saw Mah-Jones was at the dance group's Tuesday rehearsal, the night before her death.

They were preparing for a performance on Thursday.

"She was happy. She was dancing beautifully," Kainer said. 

"I've gone over it and over it in my mind. There was nothing that would've given anybody a clue that there was any problem or anything wrong."

Though the group cancelled their performance, they decided to get together on Saturday for a special dance session.

"It was tough," Kainer said, but the women felt their friend would join their dance, no matter what.

"When we got together and the music came on and we started going, somebody said, Dianna would've been here. She would've come, because that's what we do. Just keep dancing, you know?"

In addition to her sense of adventure and passion for dancing, Kainer recalled Mah-Jones as a warm and caring person with a good heart.

"She prided herself on being very thrifty," Kainer said.

"People used to tease her sometimes about saving money and going to the thrift store instead of buying something new. But she didn't mind. She was proud of it."

"But then I found out after she passed away that actually she had paid for the dancing fees for one of the other members who couldn't afford it, and I didn't know that," Kainer continued.

"So yeah, that was her."

"She was a great person."

With files from Tanya Fletcher.

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