SURREY â€” Lloyd Yates â€” a recovered drug addict who used to run a Surrey crack house â€” says his path to sobriety demands that he forgive anyone who wronged him. But for Yates, even dead, Larry Robert Mizen is beyond forgiveness.
Mizen â€” the muscled 6-foot-4 enforcer who terrified the streets of Whalley with a steel fist â€” was found dead Sunday at about 8:45 p.m. in a basement suite in the 11000-block 136th Street.
Mizen, 54, had just been released from jail on a charge of uttering threats. He posted his last â€œselfieâ€ photo to Facebook on Sunday afternoon, standing with arms flexed, a black bandana and black sunglasses obscuring his face, as if preparing to leave his room to hurt someone.
Instead, someone came in and hurt him. According to neighbours who have spoken with detectives, Mizenâ€™s bloody body was found in the bathroom of his suite.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is investigating Mizenâ€™s death as a murder, and will not comment on the cause of death before an autopsy is completed.
Court records and interviews with the former drug dealers and addicts familiar with Mizen paint a picture of a larger-than-life villain, known for methodically punching his victims â€” sex-trade workers, street dealers and addicts â€” one time in the face with a fist that had been surgically repaired with steel.
He was an addict who used his size to take over crack houses and steal product from other dealers, former associates said. They said at some level Mizen was associated with bikers and street gangsters, but he was more of a â€œrenegadeâ€ who foolishly ripped off other gang associates, quickly smoked up his take and burned money on prostitutes.
Mizenâ€™s record shows more than 10 convictions for forcible confinement, extortion, robbery, assault, assault with a weapon, sexual assault, possession of weapons and uttering threats.
Yates, who said heâ€™s been sober for more than three years, said that in 2001 he ran a crack house in the 11000-block Ravine Road. A dealer warned him Mizen wanted to take over.
Yates said Mizen sent two thugs to beat him, and one â€œpunched my ribs inâ€ while the other stood by with a metal pipe.
â€œI escaped with a miracle â€” I dove straight out my front window with glass sticking out of me, and I kept running. If I didnâ€™t, I think Iâ€™d have been dead,â€ Yates said. â€œSo no doubt, I hate this guy. I hated him, and I feared him.â€
Court records for a 2003 extortion and assault conviction suggest Mizen may have learned from the escape of Yates.
A victim identified only as â€œD.B.A.â€ told court Mizen and several others entered his home to collect a $70 debt and â€œMizen then proceeded to tell him not to reach for knives or weapons and not to yell or scream or try to jump out of any windows.â€
A former drug dealer and crack addict who said she worked with Mizen told The Province he was her â€œgodfatherâ€ and protector on the streets of Whalley.
She said both frequented a notorious Surrey crack house called â€œthe little house of horrorsâ€ by police.
Unlike Yates, the woman said she does not believe Mizen can be connected to tortures or suspected killings at various Surrey crack houses.
â€œI was part of (the little house of horrors) but I didnâ€™t do any of it, and Larry did not order any of that,â€ said the woman, who said she has served time for her crimes and did not want to be named.
The woman said Mizen would bring her prostitutes suspected of â€œstealing or owingâ€ for drugs, and she would cut their hair off, so they would go back to the streets carrying a message to others.
â€œI can almost guarantee with my life that Larry did not murder anyone,â€ the woman said. â€œYes, he probably put them in the ER, but he didnâ€™t beat them for hours. A lot of people saw that steel hand coming at their forehead, it was one shot that he would give them. It was â€˜Hello! Wake up! Ding!â€™â€
The woman said Mizen became â€œtired and oldâ€ and most of his bones had been reinforced with metal after years of street violence.
â€œThere are some people that miss him,â€ she said. â€œHe paid the ultimate price with his life.â€
As detectives continued to interview Mizenâ€™s neighbours in Whalley on Tuesday afternoon, no one disputed his reputation.
But Trish Hooper, who said sheâ€™s the mother of two of Mizenâ€™s daughters who now live in Chilliwack, said she feels bad for their girls.
â€œLarry wasnâ€™t nice, but he was a good dad,â€ Hooper said.
On nearby 135A Street, where Surreyâ€™s homeless, drug addicts and prostitutes mingle, Gary Deschamps said he feels like he lost an uncle.
â€œAs a person, if you pissed Larry off he would be your worst nightmare,â€ the homeless 26-year-old said. â€œIf youâ€™re nice to him, heâ€™ll be your best friend, and do anything to help you.â€