Murdered TRU faculty member remembered as quiet, kind man – Kamloops News

Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative, Kamloops This Week – | Story: 364001

Mohd Abdullah, a senior lecturer at Thompson Rivers University who is believed by police to be a victim of homicide, is being remembered as a quiet and kind man who kept to himself at work.

On Wednesday Kamloops RCMP confirmed Abdullah to be the deceased person found in a vehicle parked outside a home on Monterey Place in Dufferin on March 17.

Abdullah was last heard from six days earlier on March 11 and was reported missing when he failed to show up for work at TRU March 14 following the weekend.

His death is being investigated as a homicide, but no arrests have been made to date. A local lawyer, Rogelio Butch Bagabuyo, has been charged with interference with a dead body by allegedly placing Abdullah’s remains in a plastic bin.

Abdullah taught in the computing science department as an assistant professor who had more than 20 courses.

Department chair and associate professor Mahnhoon Lee said it was sad, disturbing and stressful to learn Abdullah had been murdered.

Lee said he started at TRU 20 years at the same time as Abdullah, and described him as a quiet person who didn’t socialize too much in the department, but was quite active outside of it.

Abdullah was also a pilates and yoga instructor in the city and, according to his employee profile on TRU’s website, enjoyed health and wellness, had interests in web design and programming and enjoyed travel and cuisine.

Abdullah was always punctual and on time and never canceled a class, Lee said.

That changed on March 14 when he didn’t show up for work.

Lee said he noticed Abdullah’s absence that morning and recalled checking his office and classes several times.

“He didn’t show up in his classes on Monday and I had to go to his class and make an announcement for cancellation,” Lee said, adding his fellow colleagues began covering his classes from then on.

Fellow computing science teacher, Wayne Babinchuk, said he didn’t know Abdullah personally, but was shocked to learn Wednesday he had been killed.

“You work with someone for 21 years, you don’t expect something like that to happen to them,” Babinchuk said.

Babinchuk said the university sent out an email yesterday notifying faculty of the death.

Speaking with students Thursday during class — a number of whom currently have Abdullah as their professor — Babinchuk said some expressed their dismay regarding the death and noted they’ll have to now find a new teacher two-thirds of the way through their course.

“We have about six or 700 faculty and I’ve been here for 30 years. I don’t recall anything like this ever happening to a faculty member,” Babinchuk said.

Lee said he didn’t know much about his colleague’s personal life, only that his wife had passed away a few years ago from cancer.

Abdullah had a masters of information technology from Dalhousie University and a post graduate diploma in applied information technology.

He was a volunteer with Uniterra in 2016 and was also a BC Council on Admissions and Transfers (BCCAT) articulation committee chair for computing education.

Babinchuk said he received a lot of emails following news of Abdullah’s murder from committee members expressing how horrified they were to learn of his death, expressing what a kind person he was, Babinchuk said.

“Lots of people knew him well and they sent emails out expressing condolences,” Babinchuk said.

Maeghan Porter, a former student of Abdullah’s, described him as a very nice man who was very physically active. Porter took about three or four of his classes about a decade ago, and said he enjoyed chit chat and hanging out with his students.

Abdullah was the subject of news coverage in 2009 that had international reach, when he spoke out after being warned by staff at the Tournament Capital Center not to wear shorts that were too short. The then 48-year old felt the policy discriminatory and refused to heed the warning, calling it a double standard.

TRU issued a statement, after police confirmed his identity, that TRU is organizing counseling services to support those impacted by Abdullah’s death.

“We are co-operating with RCMP and given the ongoing investigation, we will not be providing further comment,” the statement read.

The president of TRU’s faculty union, Tara Lyster, said the news has been very upsetting. She had no further comment regarding Abdullah.

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