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Murder charges laid in escorts’ deaths

Sheri Hickman, mother of murder victim Jill Lyons speaks at Monday
Sheri Hickman, mother of murder victim Jill Lyons speaks at Monday's press conference.
— image credit: Boaz Joseph/Black Press

Police have announced charges against a Surrey man in connection with the murders of two New Westminster women and a Surrey man last year.

Sarbjit Bains, 32, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Jill Lyons and Karen Nabors, who lived in different apartments in the same complex in the 200-block of 11th Street. He has also been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing Amritpal Saran, whose charred remains were found on Colebrook Road in Surrey in Feb. 24, 2013. Evelina Urbaniak, 36, has been charged with accessory after the fact and interference with a dead body in connection with the Saran slaying.

Lyons, 45, was found dead on Aug. 12 in her apartment just before 10 p.m. Nabors was also found in her apartment, on Aug. 25.

New Westminster police found evidence foul play may have been a factor so the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called in. Both women worked as online escorts.

Both women worked as online escorts.

A news release in August said at first the evidence pointed to Lyons’ death being a suicide, but the NWPD still processed the scene as a suspicious death.

“A primary focus of any homicide investigation is determining the truth about how the victims met their fate,” New Westminster Chief Const. Dave Jones said at a press conference in Surrey on Monday. “I am satisfied today with the arrest and charges laid against Mr. Sarbit Bains and Ms. Evelina Urbaniak that we have begun the process of answering those questions surrounding the deaths of these women and Mr. Saran, while hopefully bringing some closure to those that cared about them.”

After Nabors was found, IHIT warned women “engaged in a high-risk lifestyle” working as online escorts to take extra precautions because police weren’t sure why, or if, the workers were being targeted.

Sex-trade workers’ organizations criticized police for not issuing the warning after Lyons was found.

At the time, IHIT spokeswoman Jennifer Pound said in cases where suicide is a possibility police are cautious about protecting the information.

Jones said on Monday, “The NWPD, and all police agencies, take the investigation of violence against women extremely seriously, and I believe bringing this file to the stage it is at today demonstrates not only our commitment to serving our community, but in particular our commitment to investigating crimes of violence against women.”

Police said at the time of Saran’s murder he was known to police, but had no known gang associations.

Several family members of all three victims were present at Monday’s press conference.

—with files from Kevin Diakiw and Grant Granger

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