A missionary brutally murdered in Central America had close ties to Lacombe’s Seventh-day Adventist community and is remembered for his caring nature.
Brian Townsend, 64, lived in Belize, where he helped with Lacombe-based A Better World’s charitable dental program, among other charitable works.
“I knew him very well. Brian had a great heart,” said Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World and longtime friend of Townsend’s. They taught at the Lacombe Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Sabbath school for several years in the early 1990s and Rajah’s wife taught two of Townsend’s children.
“You could always ask him to help when you needed it.”
Townsend lived in Lacombe from the late 1980s and ran a landscaping business. He got involved with the Lacombe Heights Seventh-day Adventist church’s charitable programs, making numerous trips to Belize.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official news service says Townsend moved to Belize to build a high school, and stayed after it was finished.
Rajah believes the missionary lived in Edmonton for a time before deciding to move to Belize. He had been there about nine years.
Rajah said Townsend has two sons and a daughter, now grown. One of the sons, Kory, from Edmonton, who had travelled to Central America last week to search for his father, identified his body from photographs.
Local police believe Brian was abducted from his home on Christmas Eve. A body was found three days later in Guatemala, 15 minutes from the border. It was identified as Townsend’s several days later.
Investigators say there was an altercation in his home and he was abducted and robbed of clothing, a laptop and his Chevy Silverado truck, which remains missing. He suffered from wounds, possibly caused by machetes.
Rajah said Townsend was helping co-ordinate a planned May trip headed by Sylvan Lake dentist Kelvin Hill to provide dental care to Belize residents.
Rajah said they have not yet decided if that trip will still go ahead or will be delayed. Townsend was a key contact with local representatives and co-ordinated logistics on the ground.
Townsend’s family has set up a Facebook page under “Brian Townsend” asking that friends share stories and photos of him and celebrate his life.