Two fugitives who were accused in gang murders and had outstanding warrants for their arrests were among four B.C. men found dead, and now identified, after a mysterious small plane crash in a remote part of northwestern Ontario.
One of the men, Gene Karl Lahrkamp, a suspected international hit man and former Canadian military member, bred Belgian Malinois dogs before he ended up on a wanted list and on the run from the Royal Thai Police.
Lahrkamp and a second man with a Canadian military background, Matthew Dupre, 36, were accused by Royal Thai Police of travelling to the island of Phuket to murder former Abbotsford gangster Jimi Sandhu, who was gunned down by two suspects in hoodies on Feb. 5.
Dupre was arrested in Alberta and remains in jail, pending extradition.
Lahrkamp's body was one of four recovered from the wreckage of a four-seat Piper PA 28-140 found near Sioux Lookout, Ont., in the early hours of April 30.
Both Dupre and Lahrkamp were released from the Canadian Armed Forces as corporals, according to the CAF.
Links between 4 deceased still a mystery
Sgt. Brenda Winpenny, with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC), which was helping Thai police in its search for Lahrkamp, says a rare provisional arrest warrant had been issued for Lahrkamp to aid in the Phuket murder investigation before he turned up dead with the three other men.
"We aren't familiar with the individuals that were on the plane," she added.
Winpenny says investigators will be probing why the foursome was together and any connections between them.
"What were the circumstances around why Gene Lahrkamp was on that plane?"
A man with links to the Independent Soldiers gang — Duncan Bailey, 37 — was also found in the wreckage.
Bailey had been released on bail on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder related to a Vancouver shooting on Oct. 6, 2020, in which 42-year-old Mir Hussain was shot while carrying a baby in a car seat as he left the Bells and Whistles Pub in the Dunbar neighbourhood of Vancouver.
Bailey was charged with plotting to kill Hussain with a co-conspirator.
While Hussain survived that shooting, he was shot and killed in May 2021 in Coquitlam in a homicide that has yet to be solved.
Pilot of fatal plane crash identified
Dan McLaughlin with the B.C. Prosecution Service told CBC News a warrant for Bailey's arrest had been issued on April 26 after he failed to comply with multiple bail conditions.
A civil forfeiture case filed against both Bailey and another Kamloops man last November reveals Vancouver police seized $400,000 from a residence in Okotoks, Alta. that was allegedly payment for the 2020 shooting of Hussain.
Bailey had been charged with breaching his bail. A warrant was issued for his arrest on April 26, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service.
On Tuesday, police confirmed the pilot who died in the plane crash was Abhivan Handa, 26, of Richmond, B.C.
On Wednesday the Ontario Provincial Police confirmed the name of the fourth man — Hankun Hong, 27, of Richmond, B.C., — after notifying his family.
"Today, we were able to make sure that family members in another country were notified of the fourth victim's tragic ending in a plane crash in northwestern Ontario," Bill Dickson, a spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police told CBC in an interview.
The Ontario Provincial Police and the Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the crash.
Eric Vermette, a senior investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, says they will be looking at everything from aircraft maintenance records to pilot qualification records and the weather to determine why the small plane went down.
He said skies were overcast and there was some light rain during the flight.
The search was initiated on April 29 when the plane did not arrive as scheduled on its flight plan and the aircraft's emergency locator transponder began broadcasting.
A search and rescue team was co-ordinated out of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Trenton, Ontario.
David Lavallee, a public affairs officer for the Royal Canadian Air Force, confirmed that the search for the Piper began near Sioux Lookout, Ont., early on Saturday.
It was found after searchers honed in on the locator transponder about 100 kilometres east of Dryden, Ont.
Four bodies were found at the crash site in a forested area.
The plane had been flying from Dryden, Ont., east toward Marathon, Ont.
The plane took off in Dryden at about 9:09 p.m. on April 29, according to aviation officials.
Civil aviation records show the plane — which is owned by a Richmond, B.C., woman — originally left Delta Heritage Park Airport on April 23.