Eugene Bely remembers vividly the day his friend Sergei Kostin went missing.
The Dartmouth cab driver had known Kostin, a fellow employee of Bob’s/Blue Bell taxi, for nearly 11 years, and was immediately concerned something had gone horribly wrong when he didn’t report in on the night of Jan. 17, 2009.
“Somebody called me and said Sergei was missing,” Bely recalled. “We started driving around asking people if they had seen a green car … but nobody had seen him.”
Three days later, Kostin’s burned-out car had been found, but it would be nearly 10 weeks before the remains of the 40-year-old Ukrainian man were finally discovered, dumped near the side of Upper Governor Road in North Preston. Kostin left behind a wife and two children, who are now living back in Ukraine.
On Thursday, after an exhaustive year-long investigation, officers with the RCMP Integrated Major Crime Section laid a single first-degree murder charge against 20-year-old Chaze Lamar Thompson of Dartmouth in connection with Kostin’s death.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Taplin wouldn’t comment on specific details of the investigation or what led to Thompson being charged.
“I feel the police did a good job,” said Bely, a Hungarian native, as he stood waiting for a fare near Mic Mac Mall. “I was talking to (Kostin’s) wife, and she said she wanted to know who did this. I think this will help.”
Bely described his friend as a quiet, family-oriented man, and recalled a particular fishing trip they took together on the Stewiacke River.
“We caught a bass,” he said, smiling. “He was a very nice guy.”
A number of cab drivers idling nearby expressed similar sentiments of relief as news began to spread that the charge had been laid.
“It’s excellent,” said Oleg Monets. “My guess is that there will be more (charges).”
Monets, who is also from Ukraine, said he would be attending Thompson’s first court appearance, scheduled for this morning in Dartmouth. Bely promised he would be there as well.
“I want to see everything,” he said. “He was my friend.”
According to court records, Thursday’s charge of first-degree murder is only the latest in a string of charges against 20-year-old Chaze Lamar Thompson.
On Feb. 5 of last year, Thompson was arrested and charged in connection with an armed robbery at a Dartmouth video store. He was remanded to a Burnside jail, and is scheduled to stand trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in early March on those charges. Thompson also faces a number of assault and weapons charges stemming from an incident in February 2008.