Skip to content

Convicted killer receives major inheritance from late Aldergrove boss

The son of a woman killed by William McSpadden was shocked to hear the news

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

A Niagara, Ont. man is angry his mother’s killer, now living in the Langley area, has inherited a small fortune from the estate of a local junkyard owner.

Justin Deschamps doesn’t believe William McSpadden would have inherited anything, if people knew what McSpadden did on the night of Sept. 17, 1987.

Justin was four, and his mother Paula Deschamps was just 19 the night she was murdered.

He remembers her coming in and kissing him goodnight that evening. The next morning, he found a window and the front door open, and his mother had disappeared from their fourplex in Welland, Ont.

Her nude, decomposing body was found a month later in a ditch near the Welland Canal.

McSpadden had lived in the same complex as he and his mother, Justin recalled.

When McSpadden was identified as a suspect and taken in for questioning, he quickly confessed to a Niagara Regional Police officer.

But at trial, McSpadden pleaded not guilty, and claimed that he thought he was “strangling a shadow” that had been lurking outside his window, and only later found out he had killed Paula Deschamps.

It was a claim that Crown prosecutor Allan Root called “absolute bloody nonsense” during his closing argument, and the jury agreed, deliberating for just four hours before finding McSpadden guilty.

McSpadden, 29 at the time of the killing, was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder, with no eligibility for parole for at least 10 years. In Canada, all convictions on first- or second-degree murder charges carry a life sentence, but parole is variable for second-degree convictions.

According to Justin, McSpadden was transferred to a prison in B.C., and he appears to have stayed here after he was paroled.

READ ALSO: Police discovery of human remains in Langley murder case deemed lawful: judge

READ ALSO: Online threats against B.C. school reported, police involved

At some point after his released, he found a job with John Barned, a longtime fixture in Aldergrove.

Barned owned Aldergrove Auto Wreckers, located near the Aldergrove-Abbotsford border, as well as Stave Falls Auto Wreckers in Mission.

After his death on April 2, 2022, at the age of 81, Barned was remembered on Facebook by people who had worked with him, bought cars from him, and had their cars repaired by him through the years.

Several people dubbed him “a character,” remembered for his nickname of “Junkyard John” and his ability to fix any car.

He grew up in Cloverdale, graduating from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in 1959.

A former neighbour of Barned, who asked that their name not be used, recalled that Barned’s mother died when he was a teenager, and his father was either already dead or not in the picture.

Barned then spent his late teens living with several families on 184th Street in Surrey.

People recalled that Barned resided in the Lower Mainland all or most of his life, living on his farm property up until his passing.

He never married and had no family, so far as his former neighbour was aware.

“The friends he was close to, he treated like a son or a brother,” his obituary said.

Barned had a will signed and witnessed on March 26, a little more than a week before his death.

In the will probated through B.C. courts, he left $1 million to the Salvation Army in British Columbia, and then $500,000 each to eight people described as “employees and friends.”

Whatever was left of the estate was to then be divided among three people, all described as long-time friends, including, “my longtime employee and friend, William McSpadden.”

The exact amount of the estate is not specified in the will, but before he died, Barned’s auto wrecking property in Abbotsford became much more valuable due to a rezoning and development plan underway.

BC Assessment’s website shows that site was sold in June 2020, for $7.1 million, but Barned was still listed as the property’s owner on City of Abbotsford development documents.

In July 2022, a few months after Barned’s death, Abbotsford city council gave the final approval to turn the former Aldergrove Auto Wrecking site, at 27820 Swensson Ave., into a 50-lot single-family housing subdivision, recommending it be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The site of Stave Falls Auto Wreckers was sold on April 4, 2022, two days after Barned’s death, for $3.325 million.

It’s unclear how much McSpadden stood to inherit. Justin said he’s heard it was around $3.5 million, but that could not be confirmed.

What’s also unclear is how much Barned, or any of McSpadden’s other co-workers, knew about the crime that put McSpadden behind bars decades earlier.

One local man, who also has asked that his name not be used, said that he knew McSpadden for more than 20 years – after meeting him at Aldergrove Auto Wreckers.

McSpadden did admit that he’d been convicted of murder, but not that he’d killed a young woman.

“He said he murdered a man,” said McSpadden’s former acquaintance. “Then I found out the truth.”

He knew where McSpadden was from, and looked up the crime online after speaking to McSpadden, discovering who the real victim had been.

“The story he told was just a fabrication, to lessen the impact on himself,” the man recounted.

Another local woman, who also asked that her name be withheld, knew McSpadden through her husband.

Her husband was told a similar story, she said, about McSpadden’s crime being in self-defence.

“If the old guy had known, I’m sure he wouldn’t have given him a penny,” she said.

It was people who knew the truth about McSpadden’s crime who contacted Justin and told him about the inheritance.

“At first, I didn’t know how to take it, so I was kind of numb,” Justin said after learning about McSpadden’s inheritance.

Justin contacted lawyers, but was told that any attempt to sue McSpadden in civil court over his mother’s murder would not succeed, due to the statute of limitations.

Now 40 years old, Justin has made a life for himself, but admitted his path was not easy after the murder of his mother.

He’s been through serious injuries due an ATV accident as a teenager, which led to an opioid addiction. In recent years, music and family have steadied his life, but he still feels the impact of that night.

“Tragic impacts always leave a mark,” Justin said.

Asked what he would say to McSpadden if given the chance, Justin said the world deserved to know what McSpadden is.

“My mom deserved more from life than what you stole from us,” the still-grieving son concluded. “I’m here to remind you that you can try to run away from your past, but it always catches up to you.”

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
Read more