John Hamilton Zuefle’s family struggling with his stabbing death
At 92, John Hamilton Zuefle was still going to the gym, driving and could bake the best breads and pies, members of his large, extended family detailed in their numerous victim impact statements Thursday
And he had a great sense of humour, too.
“I’ve been in 39 fights and keep it up and you will be No. 4!” recalled Andrew Carr, whose wife, Lynnea, is a granddaughter of Zuefle, in his victim impact statement.
On Thursday, Zuefle’s family talked about his impact as his killer, Paulette Orendorff, was sentenced for manslaughter.
Ted Pitfield, whose wife, April, is also a granddaughter of Zuefle, said “Grandpa Z” as he was known, was a son, father, husband, uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather, a Second World War veteran, a person who would help anyone, and also a man who would likely have made it to 100 due to his zest for life.
But the grandfather he never had, as Pitfield described Zuefle, was someone whom he had developed a strong bond of friendship with that would never be broken. But it was broken unexpectedly on Dec. 7, 2017.
“Paulette Orendorff has changed our lives and ripped our hearts apart forever,” said Pitfield. “Every family gathering (now), we have a big piece of heart missing.”
Pitfield added that until Zuefle’s death, he had never hated anyone in his life, but he now hates Orendorff “and will for the rest of my life.”
April Zeufle said Orendorff “came like a thief in the night” the morning of her grandfather’s death and left her family dealing with pain and anguish.
“This violent murder shook us to the core,” she said through tears in her victim impact statement. “It ripped my heart out and stole the head of our family.”
“Grandpa Z was taken, stolen from a family that loved him by a heartless evil,” read Lyneea Zuefle from cousin Karl’s victim impact statement. “I will never forget and never forgive … He was stolen from our family by evilness.”
“My only grandpa is gone,” said Lyneea Zuefle, reading from relative Kristin’s victim impact statement. “My grandpa was an amazing human being. He was loved by everyone. He could recite Robert Service poems by memory.”
Kristin said she could count 100 things her grandfather did for her including creating a beach at his home for her, moving the many rocks there out of the way by hand after she told him during a visit she would really enjoy playing on a sandy beach.
Great-granddaughter Chelsey Pitfield said Zuefle was a dad, a grandpa and a best friend.
“Now, there’s no more blueberry pancakes for anyone,” she said, ending her short victim impact statement.
Zona Svenson, who lives in British Columbia, said in her victim impact statement read by assistant Crown attorney Jody Ostapiw that she suspects Orendorff does not “comprehend the life she stole and the damage caused on my family and our friends.”
Svenson, who was adopted as a child, said she learned a few years ago she had relatives in Ontario, one of whom was John Hamilton Zuefle.
“I never had a grandfather growing up,” she wrote. “Both grandfathers in my adopted family died before I was born. At age 47, I had a grandfather. I was so happy.”
Svenson said her grandfather travelled to British Columbia with Orendorff to meet her and “it’s unbearable to me the person who killed my grandfather has sat on my couch and ate my food.”
Svenson said for her grandfather to die the way he did “is an injustice … I am still in shock over this tragedy. This was such a senseless crime, a tremendous shock for me and my family. Grandpa Z was a gift I had just been given … I was going to call him in the days before he was killed. You just never imagine you would lose a grandparent in such a horrible crime.”
Lynnea Zuefle, in her own victim impact statement, said she was devastated and also bewildered when she learned the details about her grandfather’s death. She said her grandfather, after being stabbed, had the determination to go into another room and try and get help, only for Orendorff to stab him again.
“He gave Polly so much encouragement, companionship,” she said. “He shared the last years of his life with Polly. He opened his home, did things with her. But, to do this? Why? Why? Why?”