Slain personal trainer's friends hope for arrest in London homicide

Friends of a popular personal trainer who died in a fight on Richmond Row after celebrating his- writes

Dereck Szaflarski, 27, died after getting into a fight with another man near Richmond and Piccadilly streets on Saturday around 2:30 a.m. after leaving a nearby bar.

Though investigators released a grainy photo of the suspect, no arrests have been made four days after Szaflarski became the city’s third homicide of the year.

Breana Bielak, a close friend of Szaflarski, says his killer needs to be brought to justice.

“Someone else is out there walking around while someone who was loved by so many is sitting in a morgue,” she said. “It’s not fair.”

Friends say Szaflarski was stabbed, but police haven’t confirmed how he died.

“While the autopsy is complete, we won’t have the information into the cause of death until the analysis is complete,” Const. Sandasha Bough said, referring to coroner’s analysis.

Originally from Michigan, Szaflarski went to high school in Chatham before moving to London, where he worked as a personal trainer at GoodLife Fitness at 635 Southdale Rd.

“He was always the life of the party,” Bielak said. “He was an incredible person in every way.”

Szaflarski spent Saturday at a Richmond Row patio before leaving for a friend’s house and later returning to a different downtown bar. He was walking home with a female friend when he got into the fight, Bielak said.

The suspect, who police say fled the scene in two-door white Nissan Altima, is described as having a brown or light-skinned black complexion, with a heavy build, six feet or taller. He was wearing blue jeans, a dark T-shirt, black running shoes with white soles and a camouflage-patterned Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap.

Bough renewed her appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

“If anybody recognizes the vehicle involved, or they have any information at all that could assist us in the investigation, they can give us a call,” she said.

An online fundraiser launched Saturday to pay for Szaflarski’s funeral surpassed its $10,000 goal Tuesday.

A makeshift memorial set up where emergency responders found Szaflarski on the sidewalk at Richmond and Piccadilly continues to draw mourners, including people who’d never met him.

Bielak, 25, visits the site every day, even though she says it’s hard to see the spot where her best friend died.

“It gives me so much warmth seeing how many people cared and how many people stopped and tell me stories about him and how great he was.” she said of Szaflarski, adding plans for a celebration of life are in the works.

The funeral is Saturday at 5 p.m. at Harrison Funeral Home.

London police have a perfect homicide clearance rate over the past nine years. The city’s last unsolved homicide is from 2009, with just three homicides investigations still open from the past two decades.

Read more news of London on our site.
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