In what was described by Lisa Strang’s elderly parents as an act of “savage cowardice”, John Strang stood in court and pleaded guilty to his wife’s murder.
Lisa was found in the basement of her home in McLean, east of Regina, in August 2015.
She had been shot from behind, once in the back of the head, once in the torso, piercing her heart. She was sat on the sofa with a table in front of her with their bills laid out.
Only the sound of tears from Lisa’s family and friends, many from the Saskatchewan Party where she worked, could be heard as details of the murder and the months leading up to it were laid out.
After shooting his wife, John drove to his friends, Roland and Lynn Larsen, where he was due to go camping on their land.
Roland was leaving for a day trip to Preeceville and Strang told him, “I did something bad.”
John headed inside to see Lynn, a woman he had erotically fantasized about for months.
He confessed to Lisa’s murder and Lynn was forced to keep him calm because her three grandchildren were in the house at the time.
She asked him why he did it, “I don’t know. I don’t know why, I just did,” he replied.
In the agreed statement of fact, John talked of “Raping Lynn and killing people.”
When he left he told Lynn, “You’re lucky your grandchildren are here. I would never hurt a child.”
Once he left Lynn alerted authorities which is when Lisa’s body was found.
John was found with 1095 rounds of ammunition, not including the 14 rounds found in the arsenal of weapons seized from his jeep.
Police seized 16 knives, three axes, a machete, 15 handcuffs, leg shackles, rope, duct tape and a volume of thick latex gloves.
John had attempted suicide with “Tylenol and Viagra” and he had “superficial wounds on his wrist.”
Asked by police investigators if the second hit to Lisa’s head was a mercy shot, John replied, “Something like that.”
In court, John stood and offered his “deepest apologies” to Larsen and with a “heavy heart”, said sorry to Lisa’s family and friends and wished “he could go back in time and swap places with her.”
Facts of Case
As the facts of the case were read out, court learned of the difficulties in the Strang marriage.
Lisa became alienated from family and friends. John racked up masses of debt and rarely worked.
Lisa was the main breadwinner and the house had to be remortgaged as she paid off his debts. Lisa’s friends said she lived a meager existence herself, enjoying animals and needlework.
In the year before her death, Lisa had begun to blossom again, losing around 100 pounds to fight her diabetes diagnosis.
She was seeking new career opportunities in a Crown corporation and talked of leaving John.
He accused her of an affair and neighbours saw them arguing in the days before the murder.
John’s lawyer admitted that to the average person the amount of weapons and ammunition found was “alarming”, but very typical for an avid hunter like John heading off on a camping trip.
He maintained the gloves and handcuffs were used during coyote bounty hunts.
In her victim impact statement, Larsen wrote, “I have never seen eyes so empty of spirit and soul.”
Lisa’s parents, Doug and Marjorie Thomas, wrote their lives without their only child is “meaningless.”
The original charge against John was first-degree but that was reduced to second-degree and a charge of uttering a threat against Larsen.
The Crown and defence have asked that John receive the automatic life with no chance of parole for 17 years. He will be sentenced on Oct. 25th.
As her family and friends hugged and shed tears at the end of the proceedings, they recalled the poem her cousin, Sheri Torgrimson, wrote about her.
“Lisa, someone has blown out the light that was you,” Torgrimson wrote.