Mother confident twins’ murders will be solved

Barb Sweet
Published on July 17, 2011
Lori Astley with her sons, James (left) and William Beck. The twins were murdered June 26 in Fort McMurray. — Submitted photo

Even though police are still tightlipped about the murders of twins William and James Beck, their mother, Lori Astley, is grateful every effort is being exhausted to solve the crime.

The 17-year-old identical twins, who spent some time in Newfoundland as children, were stabbed June 26 after they returned to a Fort McMurray, Alta., park where they had been hanging out to get their hats.

“I know as much as what has been in the news,” Astley told The Telegram this week of the investigation. “The police are working 24 hours a day.

“I put a lot of belief in God that he has a purpose. I try to believe every day they are in a better place. Sometimes I am angry, sometimes I am frustrated. It feels like a dream.”

Police were called to the Fort McMurray park 11 p.m. that Sunday night. Astley got the call 12:04 a.m.

“You don’t want to hear it so you don’t believe what you hear,” she said.

Nina Heath, a central Newfoundland woman and mother of the boys’ former stepfather, has told media she fears they were targeted by a gang.

But Astley said her boys may have looked tough sometimes, but they had big hearts and were never associated with any gangs.

“They were always  there if I needed help with anything,” she said, adding they helped disabled children, seniors and anyone who needed a hand.

“In pictures they always got their arms around each other. They are always smiling. They were inseparable.”

She said James once went to live with Astley’s sister on her farm for a time so the boys could develop as individuals, but they talked on the phone and took school breaks together.

William excelled in mechanics and wrote rap lyrics while James played hockey, competed in provincial track and field — javelin, shot put and discus.

William wanted to be a mechanic and James, an underwater welder, so he could make a lot of money to take care of his mom, Astley said.

School scholarships for mechanics and welding have been set up in their memory.

Astley said she continues to receive overwhelming community support and friends and family keep her company.

She said autopsies confirmed the cause of death as stabbing and the family has held a private funeral. More than 400 attended a memorial serviced in the days after their death.

“I take one day at a time,” Astley said.

“I just try not to think about negative things. I try to think positive — that everything is going to come together, trusting in police and everyone around me. It makes the day go quicker.”

On a camping trip they took together, she remembers William grilling the perfect steak over the campfire and James organizing the campsite.

She said the boys went to school, hung out with friends, and otherwise doted on her whenever she needed help, whatever the reason.

Onetime at home, she said she ran out of the bathroom in her towel with  soap still in her hair after seeing a spider in the shower.

“They came running up over the stairs and said ‘What's wrong?’ I said ‘There’s a spider in the bathroom.’ They said ‘Are you serious?’ ”

Still they got rid of the spider.

“They were my boys. They were always there for their mother,” she said.

“They were happy. They were outgoing. They lived their life.”