Friends of the 19-year-old woman from Chilliwack, B.C., say they had no doubt she could fulfil her aspirations to become an opera singer — though they knew she suffered one severe impediment.
But it wasn't the ceaseless migraines that ended her upward career trajectory.
Instead, her father, who claimed in a Facebook post that he could not watch his "little girl hurt for one more second," has confessed to murdering the ambitious young woman, along with her mother and aunt.
Now, details are emerging about Randy Janzen, who is suspected of killing his family, and of the daughter he wrote had been plagued by excruciating headaches since elementary school.
"She was amazing," said Emily Janzen's former bandmate Kendra Simpson, 17, remembering her friend as an up-and-coming star. "Everyone was cheering, there was standing ovations."
Simpson said her friend would get migraines during band practice a couple times a month, but didn't let on how bad they were.
"She just sort of took Tylenol or Advil to relieve the pain," she said.
"She wouldn't stop. In between she would say she had a headache, and then later start playing again."
On Friday, the day after police opened a multiple homicide investigation, a memorial was starting to form near the remains of a large home in suburban Chilliwack, B.C., east of Vancouver.
Black-scorched wood beams were visible inside the burned-out husk of the residence, its roof mostly collapsed from a mysterious fire that ripped through four hours after police went to the scene on Thursday.
A forensics van and police cars were parked outside the next day, but detectives haven't yet explained what happened.
Emily Janzen poses with her father, Randy, before prom in 2014.
Raymond Norfolk, who identified himself as a co-worker of Randy Janzen at a sawmill, solemnly laid a bouquet of flowers by a tree near the house.
He said that although he had never met Emily Janzen, he felt like he had grown to know her over the eight years he worked alongside her father because he talked about her constantly.
"It's brutal. I can't believe it. Randy was a good buddy, and now he's gone," he said after police held a news conference and confirmed the Facebook post was part of the investigation.
"I left work today. Honestly, when I heard about it I started crying. I had to go home and see my little girls, because it was too much."
Norfolk said the man described his daughter as a "lucky, go-getting girl — all up until the migraines."
He said her pain began as a child but grew so much worse in recent years that she began getting morphine shots.
His daughter's health problems took a toll on the man, Norfolk said.
"He was a funny guy, but he was a rollercoaster too. He was depressed, and then one minute he was up. And then he was down.
"She was the world (to Janzen)," he said, before adding he'd heard his co-worker make some unusual statements.
"He kind of talked about it. If she ever goes, he's done. 'Why bother being here? There's nothing left in my life.'"
— With files from Tamsyn Burgmann
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