March 12, 2014 1:50 am

Vigil held for man who friends say was a pillar of Edmonton’s gay community

EDMONTON – Friends of Edmonton’s latest homicide victim, Demetrios Karahalios, came together Tuesday evening to mourn the 47-year-old’s death.

“I want [him] to know that this little group that’s here is only a fraction of the people he’s touched, and he’s helped,” said Karahalios’ friend, Jimmie Dexter. “We’re forever grateful for him.”

Story continues below

Karahalios – who was better known by those close to him as ‘Coco’ and ‘Jimmy’ – was found dead at his home in Oliver on Saturday. Police confirmed on Tuesday that his death was a homicide, but have not revealed any other details.

READ MORE: Edmonton police investigate suspicious death in Oliver 

Those who attended Tuesday’s vigil, held at a park across from Karahalios’ home, shared their memories of the man who they say was a leader in the city’s gay community.

Dexter describes his friend as someone who was the life of the party, who would never hurt anybody.

“I want people to remember him, not what happened to him. That’s not why we’re here.”

Jack Fehr says he didn’t have the strength to attend the vigil for his friend. But he has no shortage of gratitude for the person Karahalios was, even crediting him for saving his life.

He says he met Jimmy while running a halfway house in Saskatoon; Fehr hired Jimmy as a cook. But it wasn’t until Fehr moved to Edmonton that he found himself needing help after getting addicted to drugs, prostituting himself out for money, and becoming homeless.

“Jimmy said, “I’ve had enough of this. You are going to Cocaine Anonymous. And from there, I ended up straightening my life out.”

“He’ll definitely be missed by everybody that met him,” said Fehr. “He was just a beautiful person.”

His death marks Edmonton’s fifth homicide of 2014.

With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014