Lindsay Buziak
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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Father of murdered real estate agent Lindsay Buziak sued for defamation

Buziak's father, Jeff, is among three people named in the lawsuit filed in BC Supreme Court. In exclusive interviews, the Zailo family is speaking out for the first time in more than a decade

By Zander Sherman
May 12, 2022
Lindsay Buziak
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Father of murdered real estate agent Lindsay Buziak sued for defamation

Buziak's father, Jeff, is among three people named in the lawsuit filed in BC Supreme Court. In exclusive interviews, the Zailo family is speaking out for the first time in more than a decade

By Zander Sherman
May 12, 2022
Capital Daily is part of the Trust Project
Lindsay Buziak
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Father of murdered real estate agent Lindsay Buziak sued for defamation

Buziak's father, Jeff, is among three people named in the lawsuit filed in BC Supreme Court. In exclusive interviews, the Zailo family is speaking out for the first time in more than a decade

By Zander Sherman
May 12, 2022
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Father of murdered real estate agent Lindsay Buziak sued for defamation

The mother of Jason Zailo, who was the boyfriend of real-estate agent Lindsay Buziak when she was murdered in 2008, filed a civil claim in BC Supreme Court on April 25 alleging she had been defamed by three people. The people she’s suing include Lindsay’s father, Jeff.

The allegations have not been proven or tested in court and the defendants have not yet filed a response to the civil claim. 

Now Shirley Zailo, 68, and her two sons, Jason, 41, and Ryan, 39—who are not named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit—have given Capital Daily exclusive new interviews about what they describe as relentless online attacks on lindsaybuziakmurder.com, a website allegedly owned and operated by Jeff Buziak. 

Ryan and Shirley are employed as real estate agents for Remax Camosun. Jason is a mortgage broker for Dominion Lending. Buziak, 67, is a commercial real-estate agent, currently living in Alberta. He hosts an annual memorial walk through downtown Victoria in an effort to put pressure on the Saanich Police Department (SPD) and keep public attention on his daughter’s case.

“We’re not trying to stop Jeff from finding Lindsay’s killers,” Jason Zailo said in his first major interview since 2010. “We’re just trying to stop the lies and people calling our family murderers when it’s not true.” 

Negative perception of the Zailos dates back to Feb. 2, 2008, when Jason discovered his girlfriend of 18 months stabbed to death in a vacant home in Gordon Head. Buziak, a 24-year-old realtor for Remax Camosun, had chosen the house to show a still unidentified man and woman who posed as a wealthy home-buying couple from Vancouver, according to court documents and other information obtained by Capital Daily.

Screenshot from lindsaybuziakmurder.com

‘One of my biggest enemies’

According to two notices of claim, Buziak, Jane Kavanagh, and Nora Leisa Munro allegedly published “or arranged to have published” more than a dozen defamatory comments about Shirley between 2019 and 2021 on lindsaybuziakmurder.com.

The claims allege that Kavanagh used the pseudonym “Robin” and Munro used the pseudonyms “Lillian,” “Dennis,” and “Wyatt” to accuse Shirley Zailo of murder. By 2010, the SPD said that Jason, Shirley, and Ryan had all been cleared in its investigation into Buziak’s still-unsolved murder.

All three Zailo family members told Capital Daily they had nothing to do with Lindsay’s murder, and described the comments as false, hurtful, and damaging to their lives and businesses. It’s the first time Jason and Shirley have spoken to the media in more than a decade, and the first time Ryan has ever spoken publicly regarding the case.

“I went through a very bad depression years ago when this first started, and I had a really hard time trying to understand how people can do this,” Shirley said. “And it really wore me down.” 

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In a phone call with Capital Daily, Buziak said he was learning details about Shirley’s lawsuit for the first time, but that he often receives threats of lawsuits and was not surprised that Shirley had named him in a civil suit. 

“Shirley has been one of my biggest enemies,” he said, portraying the Zailo matriarch as the aggressor and saying she had not cooperated with him in trying to solve Lindsay’s murder. About the allegations in Shirley’s claim, Buziak denied he published or arranged to have published any defamatory comments. “I don't ‘arrange’ to have anything posted on lindsaybuziakmurder.com,” he said. 

In a brief email response to Capital Daily, Kavanagh said she was in Europe and, like Buziak, said she was learning about Shirley’s lawsuit for the first time. “Doesn’t Canada have freedom of expression? I expressed myself. The blog is a platform for people to express themselves.” (Civil defamation is a recognized restriction on freedom of speech in Canada.) After Buziak published a public comment on his Facebook page that referred in general to threats of lawsuits, a Facebook user named Jane Kavanagh wrote in a public reply: “Shame on people who murder. Who raised a monster like that.” 

In her own email response to Capital Daily, Munro said she was “offended and taken aback” by Shirley’s lawsuit. “I don’t know this woman, never met her, crossed paths & simply could care less who she is,” Munro wrote. Though she did not mention lindsaybuziakmurder.com or any of the allegations specifically, Munro said she had modest means to defend against a lawsuit and had intended only to advocate for “justice for Lindsay.” (Munro asked that her comments be off the record, though no such terms were agreed to by Capital Daily.)

Giving his first-ever interview, Ryan Zailo repeatedly described the accusations as false. “We would like everybody to know that we had no part in Lindsay’s murder,” he said. 

Though neither of the Zailo sons is currently named as a plaintiff in Shirley’s case, both Ryan and Jason said the comments had been damaging. Ryan said they had only recently been able to unmask some of the people they now allege are their accusers, 14 years after Lindsay’s murder.

“It’s taken, I think, this long for us to be able to start actually identifying these people,” he said. “We just keep hitting dead ends.”

Munro and Kavanagh are both listed as residents of the Lower Mainland, according to the notices of claim. Their ages were not included in the court documents. Munro is described as a retired corrections officer. 

According to BC law, Shirley has one year to serve the defendants with the notices of claim. Buziak, Kavanagh, and Munro have 21 days from the date they are served to respond to the allegations in Shirley’s claims. 

Screenshots from lindsaybuziakmurder.com.

According to Zailo’s civil suit, “Robin” and “Lillian” are allegedly pseudonyms belonging to Jane Kavanagh and Nora Leisa Munro, two residents of the Lower Mainland. Buziak and Kavanagh are named in the same notice of civil claim.

Posts that are still online as of publication time, allegedly authored or published by Munro and Kavanagh, accuse Shirley, Ryan, and Jason Zailo of being directly or indirectly responsible for Buziak’s death. 

“Lindsay ran up the stairs and met the evil Zailo’s [sic], Shirley and Ryan,” Kavanagh allegedly posted on lindsaybuziakmurder.com. “They were hiding. Had hazmat suits on, they were well covered up.” 

Other comments allegedly authored or published by Kavanagh and Munro called Shirley Zailo a “psycho” and “evil.” 

“You all will be met eventually with fire and gas,” Kavanagh allegedly posted. “Rot on earth and hell the lot of you.”  

Buziak’s website began around 2011 as a volunteer effort with multiple administrators, though in 2018 Buziak publicly acknowledged he had taken administration of it over. Asked whether he was the owner and operator of the site more recently, Buziak declined to answer, “because it may incriminate me. It’s up to them to prove that.” 

The court filings include allegations that Buziak “encouraged” posters to publish defamatory comments, exercised control over the content of the website, and failed to remove comments he knew were defamatory of Shirley Zailo. To Capital Daily, Buziak described the allegation that he had encouraged posters to publish defamatory comments as “totally false,” denied that he exercised control over the content of lindsaybuziakmurder.com, and said he had not read the notices of claim and was unaware of any alleged failure to remove defamatory comments.

“How can I remove anything … that I don't know that's a problem?” he said.

According to an article in the Times Colonist, lindsaybuziakmurder.com receives up to 3,500 visitors daily. BC law requires a defamatory comment to have been communicated to at least one person besides the plaintiff. The usual two-year limitation period for civil claims in BC was extended to three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that comments as old as 2019 could be included in Shirley’s claim.

To Capital Daily, Shirley, Jason, and Ryan Zailo repeatedly denied any involvement in Buziak’s murder. Shirley said the comments had badly damaged her mental health and reputation, and her family’s real-estate business. 

Shirley said she attributes real-estate business that she lost over the years to the accusations, and provided Capital Daily with examples, including an email from someone who initially asked her to find them a house and then acknowledged listening to one of many podcasts about Buziak’s murder that cast her family in a suspicious light. “I just found out who you are,” the person wrote. “You belong in prison.” 

Ryan Zailo told Capital Daily he was aware of two listings he had lost in the last year alone. “Who knows how many times over 14 years somebody maybe thought about going with us but they Googled us and saw all this fake information and went with somebody else?” 

Accusations and threats

The suspicion toward the Zailos began almost immediately after the murder.

After discovering Lindsay Buziak’s body, Jason and a friend called 911. They were quickly taken into custody and interviewed at Saanich Police headquarters. Jason said he fully cooperated with police, turning over a Toshiba laptop they shared, providing his cell phone, and agreeing to a polygraph, which, according to Saanich Police Sgt. Chris Horsley, he passed. 

“Every time they asked me to come down to the police department for questions or to answer something—anything, whatever it was—I said yes,” Jason said. 

Even so, Jason previously explained to Capital Daily, police seemed convinced he was responsible—at least initially. “I don’t think they did their job properly,” he said.  

Shirley said she encountered a similar attitude when—alerted to what was happening—she went to the police station to look for her son. While waiting for more information, she says officers treated her prejudicially. “They just thought they had all this wrapped up and that I was the mother of the person who just did all this,” Shirley said.

Previously, the SPD declined to answer Capital Daily’s questions about Shirley and Jason’s accounts, saying the RCMP had instructed them not to release any further information. 

Around the one-year anniversary of Lindsay Buziak’s murder, the SPD publicly cleared Jason from their investigation. Saanich Police Sgt. Chris Horsley later explained to the media that a combination of evidence, including text messages and surveillance video, had eliminated him. “We’re quite confident he was not the person responsible for her death,” Horsley said. 

In 2010, Jason and Shirley gave their first and only major interviews to Dateline NBC, appearing side by side. To Capital Daily, Jason and Shirley said they sat for many hours only to discover that a small fraction of what they told Dateline had made it to air. 

Though Jason told Dateline host Josh Mankiewicz he was not involved in Buziak’s murder, and Shirley is not known to have ever been a suspect, their appearances on camera evidently led some viewers to believe the two were somehow involved. 

A few days after the Dateline episode aired, the SPD held a press conference announcing that police had cleared the three Zailos in its investigation of Lindsay Buziak’s murder.

"We feel that it was important to clear the air," said Saanich Police Sgt. Dean Jantzen, according to a CBC News report at the time. "Fingers had been pointed as a result of this program."

Hatred for Shirley Zailo has occasionally spilled over into the real world. Photo: Submitted

But the three Zailo family members said their family’s public image has, if anything, gotten worse. As evidence, Shirley pointed to some of the abusive and threatening messages she has received over the years, including photographs she took of what appears to be a graffitied lamp she said had been placed on a street near her home in Colwood sometime in the last few years. 

Though she has not said anything publicly until now, Shirley provided Capital Daily with copies of some of the dozen or so letters she said she had written, regarding what she described as threats and harassing remarks, to various government officials including the mayor of Saanich, attorney general of BC, and even the prime minister. One government official who wrote back encouraged Shirley and her sons to seek legal help by calling a 1-800 number. That official, she said, was one of only two people who responded.

At some point, Shirley began trying to track down her accusers, passing along websites, blog posts, email addresses, and social media profiles—and sending the results to the RCMP. In 2021, she and her two sons met with RCMP officers who reviewed the material and eventually spoke with a blogger about their posts regarding her family. However, an account of that conversation itself became fodder for more accusations that Shirley had “played” the police. 

Shirley says the RCMP officers told her that any potentially defamatory comments were civil matters and that she would have to hire a lawyer. 

She eventually connected with her current solicitor, Michael Sherr of Pearlman Lindholm, who in turn reached out to a private investigator in Vancouver who specializes in online investigations. Shirley was reluctant to provide details on how exactly that person had been able to allegedly identify Kavanagh and Munro’s pseudonyms, but suggested that IP addresses and forensic linguistics were involved. 

Shirley is seeking unspecified damages, as well as an injunction that would prohibit Buziak, Kavanagh, and Munro from continuing to publish allegedly defamatory comments about her and her family.

She, Jason, and Ryan all said they hoped the case would be a turning point for their family and help others in similar positions. 

“I hope that eventually people won’t be able to comment under fake names,” Shirley said. “If you have to use your real name, you’re not going to say those things.” 

“I’ve done everything I can to help the police,” Jason said. “I’ve done everything to show that I am innocent. And I didn’t have anything to do with Lindsay’s murder and I want to solve it. That’s what we’re here for. Not to go on sites and just blame people.”

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