The three daughters of an Abbotsford couple found murdered in their home Monday say they are struggling to comprehend the loss of their parents, Arnold and Joanne De Jong, whom they described as “hard-working and humble.”
“How now do we live?” the couple’s eldest daughter, Sandra, asked through tears during an interview Thursday morning.
The family celebrated Mother’s Day the day before the couple’s bodies were found in their home on the 33600-block Arcadian Way, a semi-rural part of Abbotsford dotted with woods and small acreages. Joanne played hide-and-seek with her three grandkids, while Arnold, dressed as he always did in Wranglers and a blue shirt, visited with his daughters and their husbands.
The bodies were found Monday in different parts of the house by a family member who called the police. Sgt. David Lee of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said police are searching for the killer, but have not identified any suspects.
“It’s too early right now to say whether it’s targeted or random. We’re still putting it together,” he said.
Lee did not provide information on the cause of death, but said investigators are working to collect evidence and put together a timeline. They hope to talk to people who knew the couple or obtain dashcam footage of drivers who were on the quiet rural road on May 8 and 9.
Speaking Thursday, the couple’s daughters said they were shattered. They said their parents lived in Abbotsford for most of their lives. Arnold bought his first truck from him in 1970, building a trucking business “from the ground up.” Until his retirement from him several years ago, he continued to do the driving himself, transporting produce, raspberries and eggs. The family jokingly referred to his truck as his “first-born” and called it Hazel.
“Everywhere you’d go, he’d know somebody,” said daughter Kim.
She said her dad was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago and had undergone multiple treatments: “I can’t understand who would do this to someone who fought so hard to live. To take his remaining days like this.”
Youngest daughter Heather said Arnold taught his daughters to work hard by example. I have loved his grandkids of him, who would “light up his eyes of him.”
All three girls struggled for composure as they talked about their mom.
“She was loving, selfless and she took such good care of us,” said Sandra.
When her girls got home from school, they’d find homemade cookies waiting for them. “She’d say I just couldn’t wait for you to get home,” she recalled.
Their mother lost her own mom when she was young and helped take care of her father and siblings, becoming like a grandmother to her many children and nephews.
She baked, sewed, volunteered and played the organ in church. When her daughters de ella had children she installed car seats in the back of her car. They are still there.
Her home was her “sanctuary,” said Sandra.
Heather said she’s dialed her mom’s phone number several times this week out of habit.
The daughters said they cannot understand what happened to their parents. They had a “quiet, sincere” Christian faith. Arnold would kneel at the edge of his bed every night to pray.
“They taught us life was not about money,” said Sandra. “They just wanted to serve others and not be served.”
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