Canadian True Crime - 147 The Very Bad Doctor

Episode Date: October 27, 2023

Additional content warning: this episode includes mention of intimate partner violence, suicidal ideation, and grooming and sexual assault of an underage person. No graphic details will be given. take care when listening.A doctor repeatedly and intentionally betrays his oath to do no harm, setting off a chain reaction that escalates to murder. More info:Fatal Prescription: A Doctor Without Remorse, written by John Griffiths & Shelly CharalambusCanadian True Crime donates monthly to help those facing injustice.This month we have donated to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, who offer support, research and education to survivors, victims and their families.Listen ad-free and early:CTC premium feeds are available on Amazon Music (included with Prime), Apple Podcasts, Patreon and Supercast, giving you access 24 hours early without the ads. Please note: case-based episodes will always be available to all, we will never put them exclusively behind a paywall.Full list of resources, information sources, credits and music credits:See the page for this episode at Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

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Starting point is 00:04:17 The podcast often has disturbing content and course language. It's not for everyone. Hi there, I hope you're well. Just quickly before we start, thanks to those who've sent in feedback about the episodes we've released over the last year or so, many of which have definitely ruffled some feathers. I wanted to let you know that next up will be the annual case updates and feedback episode, where we'll be responding to the most common feedback and answering questions. So stay tuned for that, but for now, it's on with the show.
Starting point is 00:04:50 An additional content warning. This episode includes mention of intimate partner violence, suicidal ideation, and grooming and sexual assault of an underage person. age person, no graphic details will be given. Please take care when listening. It was January 27, 1993, and a woman named Jillian was cleaning her house in the city of Surrey, part of the Metro Vancouver area in British Columbia. She was suddenly interrupted by a knock at the door at about 11.15am. There was a tall white man standing at the doorstep, wearing a brown jacket over jeans and a checkered shirt.
Starting point is 00:05:43 Jillian hadn't seen him before. The man gestured towards the laneway and asked her if she owned the red jeep parked near the back of the house. Jillian shook her head and asked him why he wanted to know. He'd accidentally scratched it, he said, waving his insurance papers. She let him know that the jeep actually belonged to the downstairs tenants and directed him to the side entrance. He headed in that direction and knocked on the door.
Starting point is 00:06:13 Jillian went back to cleaning as she heard him repeat his story to her 19-year-old tenant, Enneys, Sean. After a few hours had passed, Gillian called Sharn to see how things had turned out with her red Jeep. When the answering machine picked up, Gillian decided to head down to the basement suite to check everything was okay. There, she found her niece, Sharn, in the hallway, slumped almost flat on her back. She had been beaten beyond recognition. Jillian called 911 in a panic. Shah's parents, Chris and Susan Simmons were originally from the UK, but had moved to British Columbia 25 years earlier in 1968.
Starting point is 00:07:21 There, they welcomed their first daughter, Katie, followed by Shan just 18 months later. Katie's hair was brunette and Shan's was blonde, and Katie worked full-time and Shan worked part-time as a waitress while she attended classes at Quantlin College. But apart from those differences, the sisters were very alike and very close. They liked to be together as much as possible, so much so that they both lived in their aunt's basement apartment. They even had matching jeeps. Katie's was black, and Sharn's was red.
Starting point is 00:08:00 Those jeeps were their pride and joy. The same day that the man waving the insurance papers showed up to talk about the jeep was also the birthday of Sharn's long-term boyfriend, Dave. There was a celebration planned for that evening after everyone had finished work for the day, and the celebration would continue to the following day as well, because January the 28th was Sharn's own birthday. She would have turned 20. When first responders arrived at the house, Sharn's devastated Aunt Gillian ushered them into the basement. They found Sharn lying on the ground, her chin on her chest, wearing a bathrobe. The 19-year-old was dead. At first, it appeared she'd been beaten or
Starting point is 00:08:52 bludgeoned to death, but the RCMP investigators soon spotted evidence that what happened to her was much more complex. There was blood and brain matter spatted on the walls around her, and on the floor they found two spent 22 caliber shell casings. Sharn Simmons had been shot as well. Whatever happened here was no accident. Whoever was responsible for this clearly wanted Sean dead. But why? Investigators got to work searching the basement apartment for any clues as to what might have happened. On a wicker table just inside the door, they found insurance papers. It appeared that Sharn had been in the process of exchanging information when she was attacked. Sharns aren't Jillian had already told the police about the man who knocked on her door because he'd scratched the red Jeep. But on closer inspection, the
Starting point is 00:10:18 investigators realized those insurance papers didn't belong to Shan. The car listed wasn't a Jeep, it was a 1984 Dodge Omni. And about that scratch, the man told Shan that it had been an accidental collision, but investigators examined Shan's red Jeep and found a 12-inch scratch just below the driver's side door handle that had clearly been caused by something sharp and made with force. It very much looked like it was intentional. Investigators went door-to-door speaking with neighbors to see if anyone had any information about the mysterious stranger. Some provided descriptions of the tall white man reporting that they noticed
Starting point is 00:11:06 him after they heard Sean shouting about the damage to her Jeep. But the most useful information came from the local postman. He said he'd first spotted the man walking from the lane between the houses, wearing gloves and carrying a jacket. The Postman watched as the man walked about a hundred meters from the house to a dodge omni that he'd never seen parked in the area before. The Postman thought the whole thing was so strange that he decided to write down the car's license plate. The first lead for investigators to look into was of course the license plate given to them by the postman and those insurance documents found in Sean's apartment. They both concerned the same car and when investigators ran the plates through the system,
Starting point is 00:11:59 the registered owner of a 1984 Dodge Omni came up. Investigators showed up to the home of a man who confirmed the car belonged to him, but told them that he'd loaned it to a friend that day for just a few hours, but it wasn't returned to him until that evening. He gave police the name of his friend, David Schlender. Schlender was already known to police as a heavy drug user with connections to the illegal drug market and organized crime. Six months earlier, a 22-year-old alleged cocaine dealer and his wife had been sitting in an underground parking lot in their car when they were suddenly
Starting point is 00:12:45 approached by a man they didn't recognize brandishing a handgun. Before they could even comprehend what was happening, the gun was fired and the man in the car was shot through the cheek, but he somehow managed to drive himself to the hospital where a bullet was removed from his tongue. himself to the hospital, where a bullet was removed from his tongue. He told investigators that neither he nor his wife had any idea who may have been behind the attack. The police searched the area, recovering a discarded handgun that had been equipped with a silencer, indicating that it may have been an attempted hit job. The injured man and his wife said they had no idea who may have been behind it. But thanks to a number of witnesses who described a tall white man fleeing from the scene, it didn't take long for the police to find and identify the man.
Starting point is 00:13:40 38-year-old David Schlender was arrested, charged with attempted murder, and released on bail while he awaited trial. And then, months later, Sean Simmons was murdered and police tracked down the owner of the 1984 Dodge Omni listed on the insurance papers found at her home, who said he had lent it to David Schlender. The RCMP arrested 38-year-old David Schlender on suspicion of murder, noting that he matched the physical description given by Sharn's aunt and neighbors of the man seen at the home. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying
Starting point is 00:14:26 a large what-of-cash that he claimed was from his wife's pension check. Shlenda was taken to the station for questioning, where he spent two days giving two statements denying any part in the murder of Sean Simmons. But in the meantime, officers had been searching the area around his home and found something in a vacant lot. It was a plastic bag with 22 caliber bullets inside, which matched the shell casings found near Sean's body. Schlender was clearly shaken by this news and asked to make a deal. He offered to give the police more information, but only if they could offer protection to his wife and two teenage daughters.
Starting point is 00:15:14 Apparently someone very dangerous would seek revenge if he opened his mouth. He was clearly petrified. As the detectors continued to question David Schlender, a forensic pathologist performed an autopsy on Sharn Simmons' body, finding two gunshot wounds. One bullet was extracted from Sharn's right shoulder, and the other appeared to have entered the left side of her face and travelled upwards, resting near her nose. Those gunshot wounds were not fatal though.
Starting point is 00:15:51 The autopsy determined that Sharn had been beaten to death with the butt of a gun, resulting in a distinctive pattern of imprints. These blunt force injuries had been inflicted with such force that Sharn had suffered complex, compressed skull fractures. A key blood vessel had been lacerated during the assault, causing a major hemorrhage that was determined to be the most immediate cause of Shahn's death. While trying to shield herself from the repeated blows, the tip of Sharn's finger had been
Starting point is 00:16:26 lacerated from the impact of the weapon hitting her. She had literally fought for her life against someone intent on killing her. Sharn's family and loved ones were of course devastated and completely stunned by what had happened. They had told police everything they knew about the 19-year-old's life, but had no idea why anyone would want to have her murdered. Although they had many unanswered questions, Sharn's family were relieved to hear that the police had arrested someone within 48 hours. Shah's father, Chris Simmons, told the Vancouver Sun,
Starting point is 00:17:09 it's some small consolation, at least that part of it is done now. But unfortunately, it was only the beginning of what would later be considered one of Canada's most complicated and senseless murder cases. Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects at Sharn's funeral, where white roses were reportedly left for a young woman killed just one day shy of her 20th birthday. According to the book Fatal Prescription by John Griffiths, Sharn's sister Katie saw an elderly woman approaching her, wearing a head scarf. She whispered something in Katie's ear, quote, �They've got the wrong man.
Starting point is 00:17:57 Don't you remember me warning you that you were in danger? It was an ominous message, but Katie had no idea who the woman was or what she was talking about. No one did. Back at the station, the RCMP had reached an agreement with David Schlender to offer protection to his family in exchange for a confession. He revealed the details in his third, fourth, and fifth statements, telling investigators that it all started about two months before Sean was killed. He'd been approached by a 43-year-old man named Brian West, who he already knew.
Starting point is 00:18:37 West happened to be dating a woman who lived in the same building as David Schlender and his family. He was also a drug dealer, and Schlender owed him about $6,000 for outstanding drug debts. But West offered him the opportunity to have that debt completely written off, with the promise of additional pay, if he did him a favor. Schlender was interested to learn more, so West drove him past a particular house, explaining that two sisters lived there who were going to testify against a lifelong friend of his, a karate instructor. West told Shlenda the plan was to pour gas through the mail slot on the front door and
Starting point is 00:19:23 set it on fire. But Shlenda told investigators that he refused to burn the house down. He just wouldn't do it. But then, Brian West threatened his family, saying something bad might happen to them if he refused. So terrified, David Shlenda said he reluctantly agreed to kill the two sisters. West then returned with a new plan, involving a 22-caliber handgun, bullets and a silencer, and according to Schlender, they arrived at somewhat of a compromise.
Starting point is 00:19:59 He told investigators that West had decided to narrow the focus to just one of the sisters, the blonde girl who drove the red Jeep, who was of course, shan Simmons. And the plan was to use the gun to threaten her, in the hope of scaring both sisters and to not testifying against West's mysterious karate instructor friend. Brian West told David Schlender that he would receive $1,200 in pay after completing the job, in addition, of course, to having his debt wiped. He also gave Schlender $700 up front to arrange to rent a car for transportation to the Simmons home, preferably in a fake name so it couldn't be traced.
Starting point is 00:20:46 The problem was, David Schlender decided to spend all that rental car money on cocaine. So the day he was supposed to show up and threaten Sean Simmons, he had no money for a rental car. So he took his cocaine over to a friend's place, and as they used together that morning, Schlender asked the friend if he could borrow his 1984 Dodge Omni to run an errand. The friend agreed, and after doing more cocaine, Schlender drove the car to the home that Brian West had showed him, parking it down the road. He then walked into the lane between the houses where Sharn's red jeep was parked. Shlenda confirmed what investigators had already determined
Starting point is 00:21:32 that the large scratch on the jeep was intentional and had been made with a key. He walked up to the main entrance of the house with the cars' insurance documents in his hand, intending to use them as a prop for his story. The door was of course answered by Sean's aunt, Jillian, who referred him to the basement suite. Schlender told investigators that Sean, the blonde sister, opened the door, wearing a bath robe and holding a phone to her ear. As it turned out, she was on the phone with a friend, who heard a man say he'd scratched
Starting point is 00:22:10 the Jeep. The fact that Sean was on the phone was a detail that the police never released publicly, so Shlenda mentioning it unprompted lent a great deal of credibility to his story. Sean Simmons told her friend that she would call back, but tragically she would never get the chance to. David Schlender continued with his story, telling investigators that Sean rushed out to check the damage to her Jeep and was clearly furious when she saw the large scratch in the red paintwork.
Starting point is 00:22:50 He assured her that his insurance would cover it, they just needed a few minutes to swap paperwork. He followed her into the basement apartment, and handed her the insurance documents before asking if he could use the bathroom. She gestured to where it was as she sat down with the insurance papers at a wicker table just inside the door. In the bathroom, Schlender said he removed the gun from his waistband in preparation for what he was going to do next.
Starting point is 00:23:22 He exited the bathroom and started to walk behind where Shawn was sitting, pointing the gun at her head. But before he had a chance to speak, she spotted him in her peripheral vision and tried to stand up and run, which made him panic. He told investigators that he pulled the trigger, the bullet hitting her in the left side of her jaw. But Shahn was clearly a fighter and she refused to give up, screaming and trying to escape.
Starting point is 00:23:53 Shlender shot her again, this time hitting her in her shoulder. But Shahn kept fighting despite her injuries and managed to kick him in the groin. According to Schlender, by this time he was done with the fight and in a rage, so he used the butt of the gun to beat Sean to death. Then he wrapped the gun in him this time, but he made a number of other mistakes. He knocked on the main door of the house, seemingly unaware that the sisters lived in the basement apartment, so there aren't Jillian saw his face. And then, after Sharn let him in, he left those insurance papers on her wicker table, giving investigators a clear lead to the
Starting point is 00:24:53 owner of the car he had borrowed. And even if he hadn't left those papers, he parked to the Dodge Omni just down the road, not far enough away from the house where Sharn and Katie lived. The observant postman spotted him in the laneway beside the house and watched him walk back to the Dodge Omni, noting the car's license plate. Some neighbors spotted Schlender as well, providing a description that made it even easier for the investigators to confirm the connection. David Schlender was charged with second-degree murder, but now investigators had to figure out what to do about Brian West, the man Schlender named as his boss in the operation.
Starting point is 00:25:41 The problem was that according to Schlender, his agreement with Brian West that day was just to threaten the Simmons sisters, not commit murder. So from the police's perspective, there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him for conspiracy to murder. What they did know was this. Brian West was known to police, and he told David Schlender that he was trying to help out his karate instructor friend who the simmons sisters were apparently going to be testifying against. It was imperative that investigators
Starting point is 00:26:17 track down Brian West as soon as possible and find out who this karate instructor friend was. Lately, everyone has questions about AI. How do we use it? How will it help our business? How do I get started? But there are bigger questions about AI we should be asking, like how is customer data used and who uses it?
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Starting point is 00:28:35 So in other words, get almost anything delivered with Uber Eats. Order now. For alcohol, you must be legal drinking age. Please enjoy responsibly. Product availability varies by region, C-App for details. The man David Schlenter named as his boss was 43-year-old Brian West, who had an extensive criminal history for convictions for robbery, theft, drug possession, and assault. In 1990, less than three years before the murder of Sean Simmons, West had been convicted of domestic assault, which he claimed was in self-defense.
Starting point is 00:29:21 He argued that his domestic partner at the time prodded him with a barbeque fork, but she told police that she grabbed it to protect herself when he became violent towards her. The case went to trial, where Brian West asked his longtime friend and karate instructor to provide a character witness. That person was also a respected family physician. His name was Dr. Joseph Arches, Shara Lambus, but his friends called him Joe. Joe Shara Lambus was born in Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea closed to Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria.
Starting point is 00:30:08 His family was of Greek descent and immigrated to Canada in 1960 when he was a child. His father was reportedly a harsh and abusive man, but his mother was the opposite, reportedly spoiling Joe from the start. At school, Joe always excelled academically, but during high school he also developed a reputation as a ladies' man who had a thing for women with blonde hair. He was also known for his aggressive outbursts following a breakup. Joe Sharolambus could not handle rejection. After graduating high school, he worked odd jobs to support his mother, who had left his
Starting point is 00:30:53 father after years of abuse. But Joe had big ambitions involving karate and medicine. He started learning karate, eventually earning his black belt three years later. By that point, he was also studying medicine at university, and he paid for it by operating a Dojo in a local church basement to help others learn karate. It was through that that Joe Shara Lambos met Brian West, and they soon became close friends. Joe's reputation for being hot-headed brought him to the attention of the RCMP on three different occasions, all while he was in the final years of medical school. After a sex worker complained to friends that he underpaid her, two men entered Joe's
Starting point is 00:31:45 home to collect on the debt, and Joe shot one of them in the hand. He wasn't charged though because it was considered self-defense after a home invasion. He was charged with common assault, after he reportedly hit a woman who turned down his romantic advances. Then, another sex worker reported to police that her client had started assaulting her for no reason and handed over his number plate. The car was registered to Joe Sharalambus. There's no evidence that this even resulted in a charge or that any of these incidents resulted in a conviction.
Starting point is 00:32:27 In fact, there's no evidence that Jo faced any consequences for these incidents of violence against women that happened while he was at medical school studying to become a family physician. In 1981, Dr. Jo Sharrelambus graduated medical school and began his internship at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. And in the years that followed, he worked his way up to purchasing a medical practice on the second floor of a building near Surrey.
Starting point is 00:33:03 Before long, he was earning very good money, but he started spending it just as fast as he earned it. He purchased a two-story home with a pool that came in very handy for hosting parties for his young karate students. An avid gambler, he also purchased a horse and became a known figure at the local racetrack, a wealthy young doctor. But in 1985, just four years after he started his internship, Joe was accused of attempting to sexually assault the daughter of a family friend after he invited her to attend the races with him. She reported that when they returned to his home, he followed her to a bedroom and grabbed her, pulling her skirt and underwear down before pushing her on the bed.
Starting point is 00:33:56 Petrified that he was going to sexually assault her, she begged him to stop and asked for her Bible. Apparently that was enough to get Jo to back off, and she ran and called her father, but Jo told him that she was lying and likely mentally ill. Despite that, she ended up reporting the assault to the RCMP. At around the same time, Joe also initiated a very unethical relationship with an underage patient named Shelley. Shelley Joel lived in a blended family with her mother, stepfather and siblings, and the family had chosen Dr. Joe Sharolambus as their family physician a year or two earlier. By this point, it was 1980.
Starting point is 00:34:50 In his role as GP, Dr. Sharalambus was privy to sensitive information about the family. When Shelley's mother and stepfather had some marriage problems, her stepfather went to the family doctor for advice, but he was annoyed when Dr. Cheryl Lambus kept changing the subject to talk about Shelley. At the time, he was 31 years old and she was just 13. Shelley's stepfather would later tell John Griffiths, the author of fatal prescription, that he got the feeling the
Starting point is 00:35:25 family doctor was obsessed with his stepdaughter. But, quote, I was also mad that he ignored my medical problem, that was the last time I saw him as a patient. But Shelley's mother, Jacqueline, was impressed with Dr. Sharer Lambus. He seemed kind and extremely attentive to their needs. Just the kind of doctor she wanted for herself and her children, so the rest of the family continued to see him for their medical issues. Over the next two years, Shelley's mother Jacqueline started to notice that the doctor seemed to be particularly interested in her teenage daughter. He started calling Shelley at home, gave her gifts, and invited her to go out with him to the races.
Starting point is 00:36:13 Shelley was of course thrilled, and her mother couldn't find anything specifically wrong about the doctor's behavior to complain about. After all, he was their trusted family doctor, and he was being extremely generous with his time and money. Groomers are planners, as regular listeners might remember from the Jacob Hogard case we covered last year. Grooming is a long game. Once an underage target is identified, the gruma knows they will have an easier time if they first put an effort getting into the good graces of the parents and earning their trust. Because they'll be less suspicious, as the gruma gradually turns his attention towards the real target. And while this worked at first, eventually, Shelley's mother Jacqueline decided enough
Starting point is 00:37:07 was enough. She confronted her family doctor and asked him why a grown 33-year-old man was so interested in 15-year-old Shelley. Dr. Cheryl Lambus was not phased in the slightest and claimed that where he came from, it was a cultural norm for girls younger than Shelley to be married with children. Jacqueline did not know whether that was true or not, but was shocked that the doctor didn't seem to factor the inappropriateness of the relationship into consideration, the fact that he was a doctor pursuing a romantic relationship with his patient. Jacqueline cut off the relationship and commenced a search for a new family doctor.
Starting point is 00:37:53 But the grooming had been well underway. Dr. Cheryl Lambos had succeeded in getting into Shelley's good graces, and now it was time for phase 2. Find ways to separate her from her parents. When Shelley had a serious asthma attack and ended up in hospital, Dr. Sharer Lambo soon found out about it and rushed to be by her bedside for treatment,
Starting point is 00:38:18 even though he was no longer her family doctor. Jacqueline did her best to keep the older men away from her daughter, but she was fighting an uphill battle. Shelley had become enamored with him and loved his showers of gifts, compliments and attention. She was young and impressionable and it wasn't hard for him to get her on his side. She began to rebel against her mother to meet with Joe, her former family doctor who was more than twice her age.
Starting point is 00:38:50 And of course, he egged her on. When he had been her doctor, Joe had asked Shelley many personal probing questions under the guise of being attentive and wanting to understand the full picture so he could better treat her as her doctor. As a result of all this, he knew all about her sexual and relationship history, including the fact she'd already been an abusive relationship and had been sexually active before.
Starting point is 00:39:23 Shelly resisted his attempts to persuade her into bed, but he persisted, pointing out the way he treated her, the gifts he bought and how important she was to him. He told her he saw a future for them together, a common tactic for groomers. Overall, it was in stark difference to how she'd been treated in previous relationships. Even though she was still reluctant and did not show enthusiastic consent, Jo Shara Lambo succeeded in coercing Shelley into sexual intercourse, which is consistent with sexual assault, but he was confident that she would never tell anyone, and if she ever did, he knew the chances of charges or conviction were low. This is because of the twin myths of sexual assault, which described the falsely held
Starting point is 00:40:14 belief that evidence of a victim's prior sexual activity can be used to discredit them and insinuate that they are more likely to have also consented to the sexual activity in question. Not only was there a massive power imbalance between Dr. Joe Sharalambus and his former patient who was very much underage, but he was highly manipulative and succeeded in turning Shelley against her mother and siblings. It all culminated in her running away from home to move in with him. At this point, her mother Jacqueline told her former family doctor that she was not going to fight any longer because she was scared
Starting point is 00:40:59 she would lose her daughter forever. But she added, she would be reporting his actions to the college of physicians and surgeons. In response, Joe simply told her that bad things happen to people who threaten others. In the meantime, the RCMP had been investigating that daughter of the family friend, who had accused Joe Sharer-Lambous of attempted sexual assault. Shortly after Shelley Joel moved into his home, the police arrested him and charged him in relation to this allegation. In light of this, the police had advised Shelley to have no contact with her former doctor, so she moved out of his place and in with an aunt.
Starting point is 00:41:49 But he succeeded in manipulating and grooming her, and she continued to see him in secret. The charges related to the daughter of the family friend were stayed. She didn't have much chance of success against the respected and trusted family doctor who insisted she was lying and mentally ill. It took a few months for Joe to convince Shelley to move back into his home, but of course he succeeded. By this point, it was early 1986 and she had just turned 16. Despite his threats, Shelley's mother Jacqueline did report the relationship to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, telling them she wanted his medical license revoked in Canada.
Starting point is 00:42:38 This made him furious, and he repeatedly told Shelley that he would kill her mother, but she wasn't sure whether or not he was being serious because he often went on explosive rants. In October of that year, 34-year-old Dr. Jo Shara Lambus proposed to 16-year-old Shelley Joel and she accepted. and she accepted. The timing of the engagement was not a coincidence. The College of Physicians and Surgeons were taking Jacqueline's complaint very seriously and scheduled a disciplinary hearing to determine if Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambous was guilty of unprofessional conduct. The age difference wasn't so much at issue with the board.
Starting point is 00:43:26 It was the fact that a doctor, quote, cohabitated and had sexual intercourse with a female patient while they had a continuing professional relationship. Local newspaper The Province reported that Dr. Joe Sharer Lambus had hired a lawyer named Richard Peck to represent him. The Canadian criminal justice system is a very small world, and regular listeners might recognize that name from our Darsie Allen Shepard series about the cyclist who died on a Toronto street in 2009 after a violent collision with a car driven by former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant. Because of the potential conflict of interest at the time, a special independent prosecutor
Starting point is 00:44:14 was brought in from out of province to prosecute the charges, Richard Peck. Back in 1986, Peck was a well-known criminal defense lawyer in British Columbia. And once he was retained by Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambous, he moved quickly to file a lawsuit intended to stop the disciplinary hearings, arguing that they effectively denied the doctor's right to liberty under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This suit delayed the court proceedings and a few months later in February of 1987, the case was heard by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Essentially, Sharalambus was trying to stop the inquiry committee of the College of Physicians
Starting point is 00:45:02 and Surgeons from looking into his conduct and determining his capability or fitness to practice medicine in British Columbia. And the way his lawyer, Richard Peck, argued this, was by pointing out that the rules governing the inquiry committee meant it could receive any evidence it thought fit, even when that evidence would not be admissible in a legal court setting. Peck's specific issue was hearsay evidence that couldn't be substantiated, arguing that if it wasn't admissible in court, then it shouldn't be allowed to inform the college's decision on whether Sharah Lambus was fit for duty as a doctor.
Starting point is 00:45:45 decision on whether Sharalambus was fit for duty as a doctor. In any event, the judge dismissed his application in relation to Dr. Joe Sharalambus, pointing to a precedent that found the right to liberty was about a person's legal rights. It did not cover their right to earn a living, which is what the College of Physicians and Surgeons had been trying to assess. But Dr. Shara Lambus was not done trying to figure out how to either get out of it, or minimize the potential impact to his life and career. Realizing the hearing was going to be rescheduled, he started coaching Shelley about how to speak about him in glowing terms. The hearing began and Shelly's mother Jacqueline testified about the ways that Dr. Joe
Starting point is 00:46:33 Sharer Lambus had betrayed her trust and substantially damaged her relationship with her daughter. It was quite damning testimony, but soon counted by Shelley's own version of events. She testified just as Jo had instructed her to, claiming her mother had been controlling and relied too much on her for child care of her younger half-siblings. She also insisted that Jo was no longer her doctor at the point where the relationship became romantic. insisted that Jo was no longer her doctor at the point where the relationship became romantic. She told the board how good her life was with him and how he had been helping her to further her education. The board noted that her grades had improved.
Starting point is 00:47:17 Dr. Jo Shara Lambus himself testified that he had been concerned for Shelley and asked her mother's permission before they went out together, claiming that she reported back that her mother had approved. He corroborated the version of events he'd coached Shelley to testify about, insisting that he wasn't her doctor by the time the relationship started. But there was strong evidence to the contrary. As you remember, after Jacqueline cut him off and was looking for a new family doctor, he showed up to the hospital after Shelley had her asthma attack.
Starting point is 00:47:57 And while there, he billed the government so he could be reimbursed for the visit. So even if he wasn't supposed to be her doctor, he was still providing medical treatment and billing for it at the same time that he was actively pursuing her romantically. And remember, Shelley was only 15 years old at that time. The hearing ended and as they were waiting for the board to make a decision, Joe convinced Shelley to a lope. But there was a problem. She was by this point 17, but she needed parental consent to get married.
Starting point is 00:48:36 Jacqueline wouldn't provide it, so they flew to Las Vegas with a forged birth certificate. On March 19th of 1987, 17-year-old Shelley Joel married 34-year-old Dr. Yusufakis Sharalambus in a basic Las Vegas ceremony. He left her alone in the hotel room for the rest of the day while he went to gamble at the casino. The reason for the quick ceremony was of course strategic. Joe hoped that the marriage would show Shally's mother that her daughter was now an adult, a married woman. And that would prompt her to publicly back off
Starting point is 00:49:16 from her complaint before the college board made their decision. It worked. Jacqueline feared she would lose her daughter completely and decided to recant some of the testimony she'd given at the hearing. In May of 1987 she told Avancuva's son reporter that she first filed the complaint in an attempt to break off the relationship between her daughter and her former doctor, but she had since had a change of heart.
Starting point is 00:49:46 Quote, My daughter's well-being is at stake. My opinion of the situation has changed. My opinion of Cheryl Ambus has not. Shelley was still ignoring her mother's calls, but Jacqueline's public retraction meant that Joe softened a little. By this point, Shelley was pregnant, and when their first child was born months later, he allowed his new mother-in-law to visit.
Starting point is 00:50:13 His tactics may have influenced Shelley's mother, but they did not work on the college board. Dr. Joe Sharer Lambus was found guilty of infamous or unprofessional conduct. He was fined $30,000, told to take an approved medical ethics course and suspended from practicing medicine for six months. Joe and his lawyer Richard Peck appealed the punishment in the Supreme Court a few months later, claiming it was unjewly harsh and
Starting point is 00:50:46 it would be impossible to pay the fine while on suspension for six months. Also, it didn't take into consideration the doctor's new family responsibilities. How could he provide for his young family with no income? Richard Peck also argued that a six-month suspension would ruin the doctor's medical practice because his patients would find a new doctor while he was away. There were two separate appeals, which resulted in the college deciding to slightly reduce the penalty to $25,000, but the six-month suspension was upheld. Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambous began his suspension in January 1989, reportedly remorgaging his
Starting point is 00:51:37 house to pay his day-to-day expenses until he could return to work. During this time, he made life difficult for his teenage wife Shally as she cared for their first child, that is, when he was an outgambling or soliciting sex workers. Sometimes, he would lose $10,000 during a single trip to the racetrack, and his behavior towards Shally became increasingly abusive and erratic. When he returned to his practice after six months, Shelley worked as the office manager. By this point, she was also pregnant with their second child. While Richard Peck had argued that the six-month suspension would ruin his client's family
Starting point is 00:52:23 medical practice, it didn't really work out that way. Most of the clients of Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambous had heard about the college board complaint as it did make the news, but the good doctor had managed to convince him that his intentions were pure. If he was really taking advantage of his young patient, would she have married him and started a family with him? And if they were worried about her young age, he again provided the reasoning that taking a young bride was very common where he came from. So when he returned to his practice, most of his patients decided to continue with him.
Starting point is 00:53:03 Two of those patients were teenage sisters named Sean and Katie Simmons. At the time, Sean was 16 and Katie almost 19. In September of 1991, about two years after Dr. Cheryl Lambus returned to his practice after suspension, Sean and Katie were chatting about their experiences with him. What turned out to be a casual conversation suddenly took a dark turn, as they confided in each other about very uncomfortable interactions they'd had.
Starting point is 00:53:39 Katie alleged that Dr. Shara Lambus kissed her her on the mouth and Shana alleged that he had touched her breasts unnecessarily. But they were just two teenage girls and he was their trusted and respected family doctor. So they didn't know what else to do but keep it to themselves. Until now. Their experiences validated Katie and Shana decided to tell their father Chris, who promptly filed a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Sharalambus was furious yet again to hear about the latest complaints.
Starting point is 00:54:20 He was convinced that the college was out to get him, and insisted that the Simmons family were lying. The investigation took a long time, more than a year, and then the college announced a hearing to present the results of the investigation. When Joe was advised the hearing had been scheduled for March of 1993, he told Shelley he was considering killing the college panel members, and then rant it to her about, quote, laying a beating on Sharon and Katie Simmons. But in the end, decided against it. Instead, he phoned Katie Simmons and recorded the call himself
Starting point is 00:55:00 as he threatened her, saying if she didn't stop with her complaints, then things would get worse for her. Becate stood her ground, telling her former doctor not to call her again. After that, she reported the harassment to the college, which angered Joe even more. He now insisted the Simmons sisters had to be taken care of, telling Shelley she had no choice but to kill them, to keep them from testifying. Quote, Rats are rats and if you don't shut them up, they will complain about that too.
Starting point is 00:55:37 Shelley would say that it was part of Joe's MO to threaten to kill people he was angry with. After all, he'd threaten to kill her own mother, who was of course still alive. Shelly decided his bark was worse than his bite, intended to take his threats with a grain of salt. Joe Sharolambus knew that if he was found guilty by the college again, the penalty he would receive would be more severe than the fines and suspension he received the first time. Highly stressed, he started drinking more and using sleeping pills.
Starting point is 00:56:14 He became even more abusive towards his young wife, Shelley. Joe was desperate to find a way to stop the upcoming hearing and decided to track down an old friend and karate buddy Brian West, a known drug dealer with a reputation for being the middleman between hired killers and clients. During this time, Joe started driving past the Simmons family home in Langley, as well as the house in Surrey, where Katie and Shan lived in the basement apartment. On many occasions, Shelley and their two young kids were also in the car. Finally, Brian West called him back, and Joe told him all about the problem he was facing. Because the upcoming college board hearing
Starting point is 00:57:06 was solely about the complaints lodged by the Simmons sisters, Joe believed that the only way to stop it was to prevent them from testifying, so he made West an offer. He would give him $20,000 to make sure they didn't. As you'll recall, Brian West's girlfriend lived in the same building as one David Schlender, who already owed West $6,000 for outstanding drug debts. West decided to call in a favor, offering Schlender the opportunity to write off the drug debt if he took care of the Simmons sister situation. He threw in $700 for Schlender to rent a car and promised a $1,200 payment after the job was done to sweeten the deal. Dollar signs in his eyes, West knew he would make quite a tidy profit from the $20,000 offered to him
Starting point is 00:58:02 by his former karate buddy. But because Schlender did not want to be involved, it took some time for West to convince him. As the hearing date drew closer and Sharalambu saw no action, he became impatient and started pressuring West to get the job done ASAP. In turn, West started pressuring David Schlender, telling him he had to do it fast
Starting point is 00:58:28 or the deal was off the table. Finally, he had to threaten the safety of Schlender's wife and daughters to apparently motivate some action. Schlender realized he wasn't going to get out of it and reluctantly agreed to take on the job. The pair made a hasty decision that the job would be carried out the following day. The next morning was Wednesday, January 27, 1993, and Sharn Simmons was at home getting ready for class after Katie left for work.
Starting point is 00:59:10 She was planning to celebrate her boyfriend's birthday that night and her own 20th birthday the following day, blissfully unaware that a hitman was headed for her basement apartment. That evening, Sharn Simmons, devastated family and loved ones, was struggling to come to terms with the horrific way she'd been murdered. But over at the Shara Lambos family home, things were normal. Shally was busy with the children as Jo suddenly received a short phone call and then turned on the radio to listen to a breaking news report. A 19-year-old had been murdered in a Surrey basement suite. When the bulletin ended, Jo left to the house, telling Shelley he would be gone for about 30 minutes,
Starting point is 01:00:06 and she noted that he was in an agitated state when he returned. He spent the next few hours glued to the TV, which was dominated by news about the murder. Shelley recognized the house shown on the news. She knew it was where the Simmons sisters lived, because she'd driven past it a number of times and Joe told her he was trying to figure out which Jeep belonged to which sister. As he watched the news, Joe Shara Lambus mocked the Simmons family for their expressions of grief, telling Shelley that they got what they deserved for quote, trying to kill him.
Starting point is 01:00:49 Even though Katie Simmons was obviously still alive, Joe said that she would never testify against him now, because he believed there was no way their father Chris would risk losing his second daughter. Dr. Joe Sharer Lambus only met with Brian West, the middleman. He did not know who David Schlender was, and also didn't know that Schlender's careless mistakes provided investigators with a number of leads to locate him quickly. When Joe saw the news that a man had been charged with killing Sean Simmons, he became greatly upset and agitated.
Starting point is 01:01:30 Telling Shelley he was afraid that the man had confessed and he would somehow be implicated. He added that he'd paid around $20,000 for Bryan West to hire a hitman who was experienced. West reassured him that the hitman he had in mind had already killed one man while he was shaving in the bathroom and had tried to kill another in an underground parking lot. Evidently, Joe was not aware that Schlender had been apprehended and charged with attempted murder and was out on bail at the time of Shara's murder. Jo told his wife some details that West had given him about Shara's murder. Apparently the hitman had intentionally scratched Shara's jeep as a rose to get into her
Starting point is 01:02:19 house, and when he tried to shoot her, she had fought back. Joe Sharer Lambus was extremely angry. He had paid a lot of money and had taken a lot of precautions, but now it could all be in jeopardy. As you'll recall, David Schlender brokered that deal with the RCMP, where he agreed to give a statement of confession, but only if his wife and daughters would be protected. After giving two statements where he said he knew nothing, he then gave three more, where he confessed to the murder, saying he had only been asked to threaten the Simmons sisters, but things went unexpectedly bad when Shant saw the gun before he was ready, and he panicked and shot her, leading to a fight where he shot her again and used the butt of the gun to beat her to death.
Starting point is 01:03:19 Schlender may have confessed to that part, but his story only led to the man who hired him, Brian West. And all Schlender knew about West's involvement was that he had been hired by his karate instructor friend. The problem was, there wasn't enough evidence for police to arrest West for conspiracy to murder. In fact, investigators were having trouble just tracking him down, let alone learning who his karate instructor friend was.
Starting point is 01:03:52 But Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambous was already on the RCMP's radar for a few reasons. After Sharn's murder, investigators had asked her devastated family if there was anyone they should be looking at, and were told about the complaint that Sharn and Katie had filed against their family doctor. No one expected that a doctor would actually murder a former patient, but investigators saw that Shara Lambus was also under investigation for a separate incident. A teenage girl had come forward to the police to report that her father, a heavy drug user, had broken a disturbing deal with Dr. Sharer Lambos. In exchange for the doctor providing prescription drugs to her father, she had to agree to do
Starting point is 01:04:42 whatever the doctor said. The girl was 16 years old at the time, and alleged that Sharah Lambos paid for motel rooms where he sexually assaulted her a number of times in the first half of 1992, about 6 to 12 months before Shan Simmons was murdered. The RCMP initiated a surveillance operation known as a special O, utilizing their elite and highly specialized covert surveillance unit. They put a listening device in Joe's car
Starting point is 01:05:18 and followed him for weeks to see where he went and who he saw, but he never said anything incriminating. In late February, a month after Sean's murder, they followed him to an apartment building in Vancouver, where he collected a passenger they soon identified as Brian West. This was a huge breakthrough for the RCMP, who was still trying to track West down after David Schlender's confession. They had now established a link between Brian West and Dr. Joe Scharalambus, but they still needed evidence of conspiracy to murder.
Starting point is 01:06:00 They found an opportunity to set up a wiretap inside his home, but again, nothing incriminating was said. By this point, it was mid-March about six weeks after Sean's murder, an investigator decided to poke the bear so to speak. They showed up at Joe's medical practice to surprise him and asked him about the murder of Sean Simmons in relation to the complaint she and Katie had filed against him. Joe told them that the sisters were former patients, but he wasn't worried about the complaint. After investigators left, they listened in on the wiretap to see if Joe said anything in the car or when he returned home, but they heard nothing.
Starting point is 01:06:52 As the investigation continued, the college board disciplinary hearing that Cheryl Lambus had been trying to avoid was cancelled. Katie Simmons and her parents were put in police protection for their own safety. The RCMP decided to arrest Dr. Shara Lambus in relation to the alleged deal he made with the 16-year-old girl's father. He was charged with sexual exploitation, procuring and sexual assault, and then released on bail. and sexual assault and then released on bail. The following month, May of 1993, the RCMP were greatly surprised when Shelley Sheryl Lambus contacted them to speak about her now estranged husband, the infamous Dr. Joe Sheryl Lambus. She confided that he had always treated her badly. He was
Starting point is 01:07:47 physically and verbally abusive and had become increasingly violent leading to a recent incident where she decided to take her children. She had three of them now, and flee to a shelter. Shelly told investigators that Joe expected her to provide sex any time he wanted it. But this time she said no, which led to her being subjected to hours of physical abuse by him as their crying children watched. During this time, she said he threatened to shoot her a hundred times, inject her with a lethal dose of insulin, and smash her head with a hammer until there was nothing left.
Starting point is 01:08:29 After the brutal physical assault, she had blurred vision for a week. According to the book Fatal Prescription by John Griffiths, investigators had actually been listening to some of this assault live on the wiretap and continue to listen in the hope that Joe would say something incriminating, effectively risking Shelley's own life as she was being brutally beaten. But again, they got nothing. She told investigators that Joe had been paranoid that he was being recorded and careful about what he said, which is why they never caught him saying anything that could be used as evidence
Starting point is 01:09:11 to support a conspiracy to murder charge. Shelly told investigators about all the things Joe told her about the murder of Sean Simmons, and the times that they had driven past the home where the Simmons sisters lived. She described her husband as an obsessive personality with a volatile temper and said he confided in her only because, quote, he knew that if I did anything he didn't like, he'd beat me. Shelly told the RCMP that her estranged husband had told many people that because he had gotten her at such a young age, he was able to train her to behave exactly how he wanted a wife to behave.
Starting point is 01:09:55 Quote, he said I didn't deserve to have him, have kids and live in a nice house. He said I was worse than a hooker." She described one occasion almost two months after the murder of Sean Simmons, where she actually drove Joe to meet Brian West at Stanley Park in Vancouver, where they could talk in person away from any recording equipment. She said she watched him pay West money and when he returned to the car, Joe told her that West had shaved his beard, dyed his hair and was planning on changing his identity. Shelly said that the following day, Joe renewed his passport and mentioned moving to one of the Greek islands, wondering if Canada had the power to extra-diet him.
Starting point is 01:10:47 Greek islands, wondering if Canada had the power to extradite him. Shelly started from the beginning, telling the RCMP that when she had married her husband when she was 17, he compared her to a dog from a shelter, quote, "'If I hadn't adopted you, you would have been put down.' She said they had a tumultuous marriage, marred by domestic violence, and he threatened to kill her on numerous occasions. Shelly was terrified and deeply unhappy, but she didn't know what to do. She'd been groomed by Shara Lambus as a young teenager.
Starting point is 01:11:20 She'd become estranged from her mother and had forged a birth certificate to get married at 17. And now she had three young children. She was isolated from her family and friends. She had no work experience. She hadn't finished school, and her only money was what was given to her by her husband. And even though he earned almost half a million dollars annually, which adjusted for inflation
Starting point is 01:11:47 works out to be almost a million, she watched him gamble it all away. He also drank heavily every evening. Shelly said she felt dominated and trapped in the marriage, but he warned her that she would not get away from him, saying, I could be one step in the grave and I will get you." As it turned out, Shelley had been emboldened by a secret affair she'd been having with an RCMP officer she met at her children's kindergarten, and this latest beating was the last straw. The officer had no relation to the case, and the fact that they were having an affair wouldn't come out until the trial.
Starting point is 01:12:31 She told investigators this RCMP officer was just a friend, who helped her take her children to a domestic violence shelter after Joe had left for work. She said quote, I didn't know from day to day how many days I had to live in that relationship. When she was asked why she didn't go to the police before the murder happened, she said he was the father of her children, her husband for eight years, quote, and he was a doctor and doctors don't do that sort of thing. She told investigators that after she left Joe and took her kids to the shelter, he placed newspaper ads offering a $1000 reward for information on her and asked truckers to look out for her on the highway.
Starting point is 01:13:21 Shelly agreed to cooperate with the police if they guaranteed protection for her and her children, and they were all placed into the Witness Protection Program. Thanks to the various credible anecdotes she provided about hearing and seeing her husband orchestrate various aspects of Sharn Simmons' murder, the police were able to get an arrest warrant for both Joe Sharer Lambus and Brian West two weeks later. Both men were charged with first-degree murder, and Sharer Lambus was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. It was a good end to a four-month investigation involving a dozen RCMP officers. David Schlender had already pleaded guilty to the second degree murder of Sean Simmons, and the attempted murder of the man he shot in the car in the underground car park.
Starting point is 01:14:22 There's no evidence he was ever charged for the murder of the man who was killed when he was shaving. But this was still valuable information to the police because the fact that he was shaving when he was killed was hold back evidence that had not been released to the public. So regardless of evidence about who may have been responsible for that, the fact that Shelley said her husband told her this, lent credibility to her story. At his sentencing hearing, David Schl'll be a marked man. Your sentence, Justice
Starting point is 01:15:06 Rowan, will very likely turn out to be a death sentence. I'm ready to die for my sins." Sharn's parents and sister Katie had written victim impact statements which were also read in court. Mother Susan Simmons said that she felt half dead since Sharn's murder, and just two weeks before the sentencing hearing, she had attempted to take her own life. Quote, I just wanted to be with Sharn, she was a lovely human being. Sharn's father, Chris Simmons, said he'd not been able to return to work since her death. Quote, My anger is directed at the whole world as I stand at her grave and shout to the heavens.
Starting point is 01:15:52 This should never have happened. She did nothing to deserve this. Sean's sister Katie spoke about how Sean was more than her little sister. She was her best friend. Quote, losing her, I've lost half of myself. For the second degree murder of Sean Simmons, David Schlender was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 20 years. He also received a concurrent 15-year sentence for the
Starting point is 01:16:27 attempted murder of the man in the underground car park. As he was led away from the courtroom, Shan's ester Katie yelled, burn in hell after him. Outside court, she told a Vancouver son reporter, quote, court, she told Avancouver Sun reporter QUOTE, SHANN has been cheated out of her life, it's very sad, we're all very sad, we have a lot more to go through, a lot more court, it's never going to be over for us. With that, the crown proceeded with scheduling the trial for Dr. Yosefakis-Sharah Lambous, but there was another shocking development. David Schlender suddenly requested to give a sixth statement to RCMP investigators with
Starting point is 01:17:12 new information. As you'll recall, in his first two statements he denied knowing anything about Scharn's murder. In his third, fourth, and fifth statements, he said that he had reached an agreement with Brian West to simply threaten Sean, but things went unexpectedly bad and he ended up killing her. In his sixth statement, Schlender admitted that he had been lying about this. The agreed upon plan, he said, was always to kill Shan. When he was asked
Starting point is 01:17:47 why he would lie about it, he said he was trying to avoid a first-degree murder conviction. He didn't seem to realize that his lie served to take any heat away from Brian West and put it all on him. That said, he stuck to his story of what happened once Sean Simmons let him into her apartment, but with a twist. He told police that even though West's instructions were to kill Sean, he made a personal decision to just threaten her with the handgun that day, but the situation quickly devolved into a fight, and he panicked and ended up killing her anyway. Quote, I freaked out and went nuts and beat her over the head with the gun. It was not easy. I never, never,
Starting point is 01:18:34 never could imagine anything like that. Although Schlender was far from a perfect witness, after all, he had been caught lying several times. He would be called to provide this testimony at the trials of both Joe Sharolambus and Brian West. Halloween is just around the corner, and as you prepare for the spookiest night of the year, know that Uber Eats is here to help you with all the essentials to make your Halloween unforgettable. Well, most of them anyway. This year, my friendly house ghost wants to do all the planning, but she's just realized she can't actually leave the house to buy anything.
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Starting point is 01:21:40 There were numerous delays in scheduling the trials, and during this time a number of new women came forward to file sexual assault allegations against Dr. Joe Sharer Lambus. One woman, named Angela, had actually reported her comment to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, almost a decade earlier. She alleged that Dr. Sharer Lambos had sexually assaulted her during an examination when she was just 17. But she said that Little was ever done about her complaint, and she just found a new doctor and tried to move on. That was, until she saw the news that her former family doctor had been arrested and charged with the murder of
Starting point is 01:22:25 Sean Simmons. Angela would tell Avancouver's son reporter that she was so angry that she decided to come forward yet again, furious that the college did not proceed with investigating the complaint back then. Angela wasn't the only one. A number of other women came forward with allegations that they too had been sexually assaulted by Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambus. It indicated he'd been using his position as a trusted family physician to take advantage of young women
Starting point is 01:23:00 and teenage girls. Unfortunately, all of the charges that arose from these complaints would be stayed or not prosecuted. For the first degree murder of Sean Simmons, 42-year-old Joe Sherrill Lambos opted for a judge-only trial, which started in October of 1994 and also included the charge of conspiracy to murder. The Crown's case was that Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambous masterminded the plot to execute
Starting point is 01:23:32 Sean Simmons to prevent both sisters from testifying to the College of Physicians and Surgeons about his inappropriate sexual behavior. The key witnesses were Joe's estranged wife, Shelley and David Schlender, who had already been sentenced after pleading guilty. By this point, 24-year-old Shelley and her three young children had been given new identities through witness protection. She testified about the history of her relationship with Dr. Joe Sharer Lambus and how it morphed
Starting point is 01:24:07 from that of family doctor and underage patient to him pursuing her romantically to the point where they are lobed. She testified about the realities of her day-to-day life with a doctor who was also a karate expert and the verbal verbal psychological and physical abuse she endured. She testified that her estranged husband had been left humiliated, angry, and bitter by the upcoming disciplinary action and was desperate to stop it, going into detail about everything she saw and heard about the planning and execution of Sharn Simmons
Starting point is 01:24:46 murder. As expected, Shelley faced a brutal cross-examination, where Joe's defense lawyer Richard Peck accused her of being dramatic, exaggerating details and lying about Joe's involvement in the murder plot, so that she could take his money. In response, Shelley testified that there was basically no money left to take, because Joe had always been a chronic gambler, who gambled most of his annual income at Casinos and the racetrack. She said he earned about $450,000 a year at the time, worth double that amount today when adjusted for inflation. And when he successfully applied for business loans, those two were used for gambling,
Starting point is 01:25:35 according to Shelley. Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambus had apparently built a house of cards, and it all came crumbling down. 41-year-old David Schlender also testified for the prosecution, sobbing on the stand as he said he blamed the middleman Brian West for threatening his family in an effort to pressure him into murdering Sean Simmons. Schlender said he never saw or met West's
Starting point is 01:26:06 karate instructor friend, who was of course linked to shower lambus during the RCMP surveillance operation. Schlender's testimony was consistent with his most recent confession. His sixth statement given to police that West's instruction was always to kill Sean Simmons. On cross-examination, the defense pointed to the fact that he'd changed his story a few times.
Starting point is 01:26:34 So how could he be trusted now? Schlender was accused of lying to make West look more guilty and take the heat off himself. Even though Schlender maintained he independently decided not to go through with the murder plan and that Scharn's murder was an unplanned accident in his mind, he pointed out the fact that West provided him with the handgun with the silencer. This was a key indicator that West's plan was always for him to commit murder. Quote, You don't go to a person's house with a silencer as a threat.
Starting point is 01:27:11 In reference to this and all the mistakes that Schlender made that day, the judge would comment that intelligence did not appear to be his strong suit. At the end of his testimony, David Schlender yelled, "'See you and hell, doc!' at Sharalambus, a comment clearly made in direct reference to the words Katie Simmons had yelled at him at his own sentencing hearing. Joe Sharalambus testified in his own defense, denying any involvement in the murder of Shan Simmons, although he did admit he was angry and probably made threats to kill Shan and Katie Simmons while his then wife was present. He also admitted that he threatened to kill his mother-in-law, but otherwise insisted that
Starting point is 01:28:00 Shelley had exaggerated or lied. He denied Shelley's story about driving with him to meet Brian West at Stanley Park, saying it was just an ordinary family drive, absent of Brian West. He denied giving West money and said he had never seen him with a shaven face or dyed hair. Sharal Lambus testified that he first met Brian West at Karate, describing him as someone
Starting point is 01:28:28 who looks intimidating even though he really wasn't. For that reason, he asked West to go and talk to one of the sisters and ask them not to lie. Testifying that he did not want the sisters harmed, he just wanted them to be scared. Shara Lambus testified that he was upset when he heard on the news that Shana Simmons had been killed, and he claimed he was extremely surprised when David Schlender was charged with her murder, and he started panicking. He testified that he didn't even know that his biker buddy, Brian West, had subcontracted
Starting point is 01:29:06 the job of scaring the sisters to a third party. But this wasn't consistent with Shelley's testimony that her then husband told her he'd paid Brian West to hire an experienced hitman, who he believed had already killed one man while he was shaving in the bathroom. That man's name was reportedly Charlie Curtin, and an RCMP officer testified they were still investigating the unsolved murder, but said the fact that Curtin was killed while shaving was a holdback detail that only the police knew, and had never been made public before Shelley testified about what Joe had told her about it. When Sheryl Lambus was asked how Shelley knew so much behind
Starting point is 01:29:54 the scenes information, he said he couldn't explain it, but quote, she didn't get it from me. As for Shelley's claim that he renewed his passport intending to flee Canada, he said he did renew it but it was because he was planning a holiday. Enclosing arguments, Crown Prosecutor Terry Schultz described Dr. Joe Shara Lambus as a cold-blooded executioner with a mentality of a mercenary and a man without a conscience. The defense, Richard Peck, described Shelley Sharolambus as a gold digger with bitter animosity towards her husband, and described her testimony in that of David Schlender as an unreliable basis for conviction.
Starting point is 01:30:43 But BC Supreme Court Justice Ron McKinnon did not agree and pointed out that for a family doctor held in high esteem by the community, Dr. Cheryl Lambo seemed to have a very strange view of life. His distrust of police, his rejection of family values, and his pursuit of the acquisition of money above all were not consistent with a notion of a caring family medical professional. The judge found Dr. Joe Sharer-Lambus guilty of both charges and sentenced him to two concurrent life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years. with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Starting point is 01:31:33 The Simmons family were greatly inconvenienced by this trial, and the trial of Brian West, which would come next. They expected both men to be tried together because their charges concerned the same crime, but the trials were separated and moved to inconvenient locations outside Surrey to avoid pretrial publicity. This increased the time and financial burden on the Simmons family to travel to and attend both trials. The family spoke out about the length and process of the investigation conducted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Starting point is 01:32:08 Questioning why it took almost 18 months between when they filed the claim and the hearing was scheduled. The family requested a full public inquiry to look into how the college handles complaints against its members, but the government rejected it after the college maintained the time period was appropriate. Chris Simmons would go on to form the BC chapter of the victim support group then known as caveat, or Canadians against violence everywhere advocating its termination. The trial for Brian West was next.
Starting point is 01:32:46 He was also found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. After serving 15 years, West was eligible to apply for the faint hope clause for the chance to appear before the parole board and ask for early release. He successfully applied for day parole in 2016, after 23 years. David Schlender also served 23 years of his sentence, but he was never released. He reportedly passed away in December of 2006, most likely as the result of illness. Joe Sharolambous and his defense lawyer Richard Peck exhausted every avenue available to him
Starting point is 01:33:34 to appeal, but they were all dismissed. In 2006, he gave an exclusive 90 minute prison interview with Ian Mulgrew for the Vancouver Sun, where he claimed that he didn't get a fair trial and that most of the things said about him were lies or exaggerations. He described Shelley, his former patient, turned underage wife, as spoiled, pampered, someone who lived a life of luxury. He described the affair she had with the RCMP officer as Torrid, that they plotted together to lie and do whatever was necessary to achieve their goal of being together. He seemed to think that they needed him in prison to carry
Starting point is 01:34:19 on their relationship. While Shelley had testified that the affair was casual and short-lived, just a transition point that only lasted a few weeks after she took the kids and fled to a shelter, Cheryl Lambus later claimed that it evolved into a marriage that lasted for less than a decade and had recently collapsed. The original 2006 Vancouver Sun article does not mention if his claim is true or not, and we were unable to find any publicly available evidence about Shelley's marriage. The fact that Shelley has since changed her name under witness protection might have something to do with that.
Starting point is 01:35:03 In any event, Shelley said she met the officer organically because their children both attended the same kindergarten, and he was not involved in the case in any capacity. So if they did go on to get married, the relevance of that to the fact that Joe Sharer Lambus was found guilty of the first degree murder of Sean Simmons was basically non-existent. The Prowl Board of Canada noted in 2020 that he continues to show a lack of remorse, and was determined to be a moderate to high risk to reoffend. The Board's decision stated that Shara Lamboo's decision to be a high risk to reoffend was to be a high risk to reoffend. The Board's decision stated that Sh determined to be a moderate to high risk to re-offend. The board's decision stated that Sharer Lambus was part of the institutional subculture
Starting point is 01:35:53 in prison. And though his behaviour had improved in recent years, new incidents on his file involved dominating phone and TV privileges, fights with other inmates and possession and sales of tobacco and other unauthorized items. This year, 2023, the now 71-year-old was rejected for a parole application yet again. By this point, Sharer Lambus has spent 29 years in prison, and the board noted that even though he's attempted to demonstrate remorse, it seemed superficial and indicated he lacked a real understanding of the impact of his crime.
Starting point is 01:36:37 The board pointed out that he was estranged from the three adult children he shared with his former patient and wife, Shelley, who was just 15 years old when he started pursuing her romantically and just 17 when he married her with a forged birth certificate. The board also noted that despite this and the other complaints against him, including that of Sean and Katie Simmons, Angela and the other women, Joe Sharer-Lambus continues to deny that he was sexually involved with any of his patients. The board found he lacks the self-reflection and skills necessary to manage this risk, and his quote, sense of entitlement, arrogance and ego remain relevant factors in his case.
Starting point is 01:37:26 And despite his improved behavior in prison, the parole board pointed out that he had no access to vulnerable girls or women in the prison environment, which the evidence strongly suggests would be his most likely target should he ever have the opportunity to re-offend. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd love for you to tell a friend or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. This episode has been pieced together from court documents and news archives, in particular the trial reporting of Neil Hall
Starting point is 01:38:13 for the Vancouver Sun and Holly Hallwood for the province. Visit for the full list of resources we relied on to write this episode and anything else you want to know about the podcast. Canadian True Crime Donates Monthly to those facing injustice. This month we have donated to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, who offer support, research and education to survivors, victims and their families. Learn more at
Starting point is 01:38:48 This episode was researched by Eileen McFarlane, with additional research writing, narration, and sound designed by me. Audio editing and production was by Nico from Inky Paul Print, who also composed the theme songs under the name We Twork of Dreams. Production assistance was by Jesse Hawke of Inky Poor Print, with script consulting by Carol Weinberg and the disclaimer was voiced by Eric Crosby. I'll be back soon with our case updates and feedback episodes.
Starting point is 01:39:20 See you then! you

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