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Friends react to Lake Country man’s murder charges

The man accused of killing his wife in Lake Country three years ago made his first court appearance in Kelowna on Monday morning.

Arlene Susan Hennig Westervelt was canoeing with her husband Bert Westervelt on Okanagan Lake when their boat capsized in June 2016.

At the time, RCMP called it a tragic accident and noted the couple were not wearing their lifejackets.

“Continued investigation by police revealed that foul play was suspected in this case, and further investigation conducted by our southeast district major crimes unit confirmed that,” Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said. “As such, we were able to secure charges against an individual.”

Three years after Arlene’s body was pulled from the water, 63-year-old Bert was arrested in Lake Country and charged with second-degree murder.

READ MORE: Lake Country husband charged with murder in connection with wife’s drowning

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Close friends of Arlene’s said they’d had their suspicions from the beginning.

They showed up for Bert’s short court appearance Monday morning as her parents and sisters are based out east.

“This has been hell for [her family] for the last two, almost three years,” Arlene’s close family friend Kaye Davidson said.

In a statement, the family said Arlene’s passing has left a huge hole in their hearts.

“Arlene will always be remembered for her sense of adventure, zest for life and above all, her infectious giggle. We can’t express how much we miss her, and she will live forever in our hearts,” the family said.

READ MORE: Search crews scour Okanagan Lake for missing 57-year-old Lake Country woman

Meanwhile, Bert’s friends said they were stunned by the allegations.

After Arlene’s death, he joined a grief support group and members said he mourned his wife of nearly 30 years.

“Anybody who knew him wouldn’t think anything like that [was] possible, because he loved his wife very much,” Bert’s friend Diane Miller said.
WATCH: (Aired April 7, 2018) Nearly three years after a canoe capsized on Okanagan Lake and a woman died, her husband has been charged with second-degree murder. Jules Knox reports.
Lake Country man charged with murder
Lake Country man charged with murder

Police wouldn’t say what led them to charge Bert or even how exactly Arlene died.

“Those will be details that will have to come out during the court process,” O’Donaghey said.

Bert remains in custody, but his lawyer said he is working to get him a bail hearing.

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