Police make arrest in New West trans murder

No sign of a hate crime, RCMP says

Nathaniel Christopher Xtra [Vancouver, B.C.]

Police have made an arrest in connection with the murder of a trans woman in New Westminster almost 10 weeks ago.

Charles Jameson “Jamie” Mungo Neel, 20, has been charged with second degree murder.

January Marie Lapuz, 26, was found stabbed in her home in the 500 block of 3rd Ave on Sept 29. She was rushed to hospital, where she died a few hours later.

Neel was arrested on Dec 5 by the RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), which is still investigating the motive for the alleged murder, according to RCMP Sergeant Jennifer Pound.

“This homicide of January Lapuz doesn’t appear to be of a hate crime nature,” Pound tells Xtra. “We’re still looking into what the exact motive is, but at this point we can tell you that it does not appear to be a hate crime.”

Pound told Xtra in September that police were investigating and seeking a man seen fleeing the scene. She said it was too soon to speculate on the motive but noted that Lapuz “was working in the sex trade to some degree.”

“I believe there was advertisements online,” she said. “It’s a high-risk lifestyle, no doubt about that.”

Friends remember Lapuz as a joyful, kind and generous person. 

“She was a shining light in Sher Vancouver,” Alex Sangha told Xtra in September.

Lapuz, who was born in the Philippines, was the first transgender person to hold an executive position with Sher, a support group for South Asian gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

“It was the first time in her life someone gave her a chance,” Sangha said. “She treated everyone with respect and dignity. She saw value in everyone. It’s a huge loss.”

Neel will appear in New Westminster Law Courts for a bail hearing on Monday, Jan 7 at 9:30am. 

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.