WINNIPEG -- People are remembering a 27-year-old man from Steinbach, Man., killed in what RCMP have described as a “horrendous, vile and senseless crime.”

It comes after investigators announced four people have been charged with first-degree murder in Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe’s death.

The husband and father of two had been taking steps to turn his life around after living with a methamphetamine addiction and running into trouble with the law.

Just months before police say he was senselessly killed, Reimer-Wiebe — known by many as George — shared a story of success.

In January, Reimer-Wiebe completed a one-year residential treatment program through Adult and Teen Challenge where he was well-liked and became a friend to many.

“George and I were close friends,” said Anthony Ho, re-entry director for Adult and Teen Challenge of Central Canada. “I worked with him after he graduated Teen Challenge.”

“This man loved his family and he was an intricate part of our family.”

Ho said he lost contact with Reimer-Wiebe in late May or June. Now, he’s remembering his friend for his love of music and passion for helping others.

”George was a fiery individual,” said Ho. “He loved life and one thing he really liked to do was spend time with his family at the park. He would call me and send me pictures of him and his son and daughter and wife at the park.”

On Jun. 24, a homeowner told CTV News he found a body buried under a pile of dirt near a bush by his garden in Portage la Prairie’s east end. Police later identified the man as Reimer-Wiebe and announced he was the victim of a homicide.

The RCMP alleges Reimer-Wiebe was killed four days earlier at a home on Alfred Ave. in Winnipeg — a home destroyed in a fire the same day in what investigators believe was arson.

Investigators won’t say how Reimer-Wiebe was killed or get into a motive. Those who knew him said the circumstances of his death are difficult to hear.

“The feelings of what happened don’t go away,” said Terry Thiessen, pastor of outreach with Adult and Teen Challenge. “It’s still something that’s very raw for us.”

RCMP have arrested and charged four people in their 20s from Winnipeg with first-degree murder, forcible confinement, and indignity to a human body.

While there are still many questions about Reimer-Wiebe’s death, Thiessen said the arrests help, to a certain degree.

“We want to be able to see the family and the friends and the other victims be able to move forward in this,” he said.

Reimer-Wiebe enrolled in Teen Challenge after he was arrested and charged with meth possession in Selkirk, Man. in Nov. 2018.

Josh Anstett, his lawyer at the time, told a judge in Oct. 2019 Reimer-Wiebe left Bolivia for Canada with his wife when he was 21 to overcome a meth addiction that started when he was 14. 

Court heard Reimer-Wiebe attended treatment in Bolivia and that’s when he made the decision to get a fresh start in a new country. His lawyer told court things weren’t that easy for his client in Manitoba, either.

“He’s had a difficult upbringing, had some very difficult struggles but he’s made this decision to go to Teen Challenge entirely on his own,” said Anstett. “Realizing that he’d hit rock bottom at that point.”

Reimer-Wiebe pleaded guilty to possessing a small amount of the drug and was given a conditional discharge with nine months supervised probation. Court heard it’s an uncommon outcome for the charge but a judge made the decision, in part because Reimer-Wiebe was getting help for his meth addiction.

“It destroys lives, it destroys people, it destroys lives of people around users,” provincial court judge Keith Eyrikson told Reimer-Wiebe.

“It gives me particular pleasure to see you making great strides, getting off methamphetamine.”

Ho went through the same Teen Challenge program as Reimer-Wiebe. While he doesn’t know what happened to his friend after they lost contact, he said transitioning back into the community can be a difficult step for many.

“The day that he chose to leave (the program), I hadn’t seen him since but I did try to contact him a few times through phone and WhatsApp and I couldn’t get a hold of him, unfortunately,” said Ho.

Kyle Sinkovits, one of the four people accused of murder in Reimer-Wiebe’s death, had also previously used meth, according to court records reviewed by CTV News. 

“He’s been afforded with some rehabilitative opportunities that he just sadly never took advantage of,” the Crown told court during a Dec. 2018 court hearing for Sinkovits.

Sinkovits pleaded guilty during the hearing to multiple offences that occurred in Mar. 2018 and June and July of 2017. The Crown told court Sinkovits had used meth and cannabis on Jun. 13, 2017 when he stole a vehicle and drove it down a residential street at a high rate of speed — plowing through a chain-link fence.

Court heard on Jul. 7, 2017 Sinkovits was again driving a stolen vehicle while fleeing from police officers through densely-populated areas and rammed police cruisers. No one was hurt. Court heard Sinkovits was sober during that incident.

None of the allegations against Sinkovits or any of the other three people accused in Reimer-Wiebe’s death have been tested in court.