A man who killed his pregnant girlfriend more than 20 years ago, hiding her body in a concrete-filled barrel, has been sentenced to spend 11 years behind bars.
Trent Larsen, now 54, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Kamloops Supreme Court on Tuesday (Sept. 7), admitting he went too far during a domestic fight with Angel Lyn Fehr, who was 27 at the time of her death.
In an agreed statement of facts defence and prosecution, court heard Larsen killed Fehr by strangling her with a lamp cord at their home on Edgemount Avenue in Kamloops on May 2, 2000.
Fehr was five months’ pregnant with Larsen’s child at the time and grieving the loss of one of her daughters, who died in an accident two years earlier at just 18 months old.
Court heard Larsen awoke on the morning of May 2 to Fehr straddling his chest, brandishing a butcher knife, upset over the death of her daughter and the belief that Larsen had not been listening to her as she described her grief.
“Fehr threatened Larsen with the knife and a violent struggle ensued,” Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg said, noting Larsen struck Fehr with a nearby lamp to disarm her, but was unsuccessful. Fehr stabbed Larsen several times as he wrapped the lamp cord around her neck. As Larsen applied pressure, Fehr continued to strike at him with the knife, but eventually lost consciousness, Wiberg said.
Larsen continued strangling Fehr, holding the lamp cord in place for up to five minutes, leading to Fehr’s death.
Court heard Larsen did not intend to kill her and later made attempt to revive her, to no avail.
He moved her body into the basement of the residence and placed it in a barrel from his yard.
Larsen then filled the barrel with concrete and placed a cinder block on top. He used a chain to lift the barrel out of the basement and into his truck, driving it and the body of Fehr within to the 100 Mile House area and arranging for it to be buried on a rural property owned by a man unrelated to the crime.
The crime went unsolved for 19 years when, on Sept. 14, 2019, Larsen admitted his guilt in a Mr. Big sting operation, in which he confessed the crime to a gangster who was, in fact, an undercover police officer.
Investigators executed search warrants on Sept. 16 of that year, seizing the truck Larsen had used to transport the barrel. The vehicle had visible damage consistent with the chain Larsen used to haul the barrel out of the house and into the truck.
The barrel containing Larsen’s remains encased in concrete was seized. A fetus was found in her womb and the DNA analysis confirmed the remains were those of Fehr. Given the advanced state of decomposition, a cause of death was unable to be determined by the coroner.
Larsen refused to address the court, but his lawyer, Troy Anderson, said his client feels tremendous remorse for the offence and has regretted it ever since.
He said his client had abused alcohol and drugs throughout his 20s and met Fehr within the context of that lifestyle.
Leading up to the fatal fight on May 2, 2000, Anderson said, his client was trying to stop using drugs and alcohol and attempting to maintain a job so he could be a good father to the child the couple was expecting.
“The guilt he carried with him from that has followed him to today,” Anderson said, “He’s spent the last 20 years bouncing around from poorly paid job to poorly paid job, continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol up to and including the time the major crime technique would be used upon him.”
The guilty plea, Wiberg noted, saved considerable time in court and hardship on the family from a trial, which is a mitigating factor in the case.
Larsen had initially been charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown accepted the joint submission on sentencing.
“These are very tragic circumstances,” Brown said. “I’m certain they were driven by alcohol, drugs and mental illness.”
An eight-year prison sentence was given for the domestic manslaughter and three-and-a-half years for the charge of indecency to a human body, to be served consecutively.
Larsen has been in prison for 724 days and, after factoring in the 1.5 days per day credit for time served in pre-trial custody, was credited with 1,086 days (36 months), leaving him with eight years, five months and 24 days left in jail.
One of Fehr’s two living, adult daughters, who had thought for years that her mother had abandoned her, had a victim impact statement entered into the record, but not read out in court.
The daughters were about eight and nine years old at the time of their mother’s death, but were living with their grandfather in Alberta at the time. Larsen was not the father of any of Fehr's three children.
Fehr was last seen on April 23, 2000, when she and Larsen had Easter dinner with her family, including her two daughters, in Abbotsford. After dinner, Fehr and Larsen left to drive back to Kamloops. The expectant mother was never seen nor heard from again.
Police investigators determined early in the investigation it was out of character for Fehr not to be in contact with her two daughters. Sje also missed pre-natal appointments and activity in her bank account and phone came to a complete halt.
Larsen, at the time, lied to Fehr’s relatives, telling the family she had left him and disappeared.
In January of 2002, Larsen, who was a suspect in the disappearance, gave a false statement to police, claiming he had no knowledge of Fehr’s whereabouts.
In June 2016, the RCMP division dedicated to special major crimes cases took over the investigation, leading to the Mr. Big operation three years later.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week