Why were 2 fugitives on a small plane that crashed in Ontario? The story so far

Click to play video: 'B.C. fugitives added to the list of Canada’s most wanted'
B.C. fugitives added to the list of Canada’s most wanted
WATCH: B.C. fugitives added to the list of Canada’s most wanted – Apr 26, 2022

Why were two men wanted in connection with murder onboard a small plane that suddenly crashed in northern Ontario last month?

It’s one of many questions surrounding the crash near Sioux Lookout, Ont. that resulted in the deaths of all four men on that plane.

Gene Karl Lahrkamp, 36, and Duncan Bailey, 37, were wanted by police, but it’s not clear how they got on that plane, whether they knew each other or the other men on the flight.

Here’s what we know, and don’t know, so far.

What happened?

Sometime between April 29 and 30, a small plane carrying four people flying to Marathon, Ont. from Dryden, Ont., crashed in the Kukukus Lake area between Ignace and Sioux Lookout.

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The search for the Piper PA-28 Cherokee began near Sioux Lookout around 4:30 a.m. on April 30 after officials were notified about an overdue flight the day before, said David Lavallee, a public affairs officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Four men died after a plane crashed in northern Ontario late last month. OPP said the plane crashed in the Kukukus Lake area, near Sioux Lookout, Ont. sometime between April 29 and 30. Global News graphic

Rescuers were able to zero in on the plane’s emergency locator transponder. The crash site was discovered later that day in a “remote and … hard to access” area southeast of Sioux Lookout, which is about 450 kilometres east of Winnipeg.

The Ontario Provincial Police started its investigation shortly after the wreckage was discovered to identify the passengers. The other two men on that flight were Hankun Hong, 27, and Abhinav Handa, 26, of Richmond, B.C.

What caused the plane to crash?

The OPP said Handa was flying the privately-owned plane at the time.

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The crash remains under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board. TSB investigators were onsite Monday to gather data for the safety investigation and to assess the situation, a spokesperson told Global News.

“As part of our investigation, we will also look at the wreckage and aircraft systems, weather, maintenance records, and pilot qualifications,” they said, adding the flight left Dryden at 9:09 p.m. local time. When the flight crashed and why is not yet known.

Not one, but two of the men on board were later revealed to be wanted fugitives, sought in connection with two murder cases.

Who was Gene Karl Lahrkamp?

OPP had Gene Karl Lahrkamp listed as a resident of Kincardine, Ont. His last known location was in Trail, B.C., a small town more than 600 kilometres east of Vancouver.

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On April 26 – four days before the plane crash was discovered – Lahrkamp was named one of Canada’s most wanted fugitives. A $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest.

Gene Karl Lahrkamp
Gene Karl Lahrkamp, 36, was killed in a plane crash in northern Ontario in late April, days after a $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest. BOLO photo

Lahrkamp was wanted in connection with the death of Jimi Sandhu, a former Abbotsford gangster. The 32-year-old’s body was found near a villa in Rawai Beach, Muang district of Phuket, Thailand in February, according to Crime Stoppers.

In Canada, Sandhu was involved with the “UN” Gang, one of the groups involved in a violent, ongoing conflict in the Lower Mainland of B.C., according to Crime Stoppers. He was deported back to India in 2016 for “serious criminality.”

The Royal Thai Police investigation determined that Sandhu was deliberately targeted by two Canadian gunmen who flew back to Canada in the days following the slaying.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. man who made top 25 fugitive list wanted for murder of gangster in Thailand'
B.C. man who made top 25 fugitive list wanted for murder of gangster in Thailand

It charged both Lahrkamp and Matthew Dupre, and sought help to find and arrest them after they fled to Canada.

Dupre was arrested on Feb. 20 in Alberta with assistance from local RCMP. He has been held in custody awaiting extradition.

Both men were ex-members of the Canadian Armed Forces, a spokesperson told Global News on Thursday.

Dupre served from 2005 to 2013, and Lahrkamp served from 2012 to 2018. They were released as corporals, but the spokesperson wouldn’t elaborate as to why, citing privacy legislation.


Who was Duncan Bailey?

Kamloops resident Duncan Bailey was charged with attempt to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder, related to a shooting on Oct. 6, 2020, in Vancouver, said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesperson with the B.C. Prosecution Service.

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That day, a 42-year-old man was targeted in a shooting around 5:45 p.m., police said at the time. The man was carrying a baby in a car seat when he was shot. He was with a woman and a three-year-old child.

Two suspects fled in a car and hit a parked vehicle. They then fled on foot and were arrested. Liban Hassan and Ahmed Ismail were charged shortly after.

The victim was identified as Mir Hussain. He was shot dead in broad daylight in May 2021.

The case is still before the courts, McLaughlin said. Bailey made his last court appearance on April 4.

A few weeks after that court appearance, a warrant was issued for his arrest for failing to comply with bail conditions, McLaughlin said.

That warrant was issued on April 26 – the same day Lahrkamp was named one of Canada’s most wanted fugitives – and four days before the crashed plane was found.

Why were they on that plane?

It’s unclear why Bailey and Lahrkamp were on that plane, how they got on that plane, if they knew each other or if they knew the other two men.

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The Vancouver Sun reported on Wednesday Hankun Hong and Abhinav Handa were both pilots. Handa was flying the aircraft at the time, the OPP said.

Neither of the men had any criminal history in B.C., the Sun reported.

What is clear now is that investigators are working to figure out how the plane went down, and why the men were on board.

What is happening now?

The TSB investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s anti-gang unit is looking into why Lahrkamp was on that plane, and what his relationship was with the other passengers.

Police are looking for any links to B.C. gangs as they review the crash, said Sgt. Brenda Winpenny of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. (CFSEU-BC) on Wednesday. The Sun reported Bailey was associated with the Independent Soldiers gang in the province.

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The anti-gang unit was leading the search for Lahrkamp in order to secure his arrest for extradition to Thailand. It was not acting on any charges laid in Canada, she said.

Vancouver police redirected Global News to CFSEU-BC when asked if it was looking into why Bailey was on that flight, with a spokesperson saying it is “their file.” Global News has reached out to CFSEU-BC for further comment.

— with files from Global News’ Amy Judd and The Canadian Press

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