First-degree murder charges have been re-activated against a suspect in the deaths of a pair of Edmonton-area seniors who vanished in July 2010.
Police discovered the charred remains of Lyle and Marie McCann’s motorhome but their bodies have never been found.
RCMP announced Friday afternoon they are proceeding with the case against Travis Vader, 42.
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He had been charged two years after the McCanns disappeared but both counts were stayed in March. Police had a year in which to re-activate the charges.
“Vader was arrested without incident and will be held in custody until he speaks to bail,” RCMP said in a news release.
“He will appear to speak to these charges at Queen’s Bench in Edmonton at a date yet to be determined. We will provide an update to that information when it becomes available.”
The couple, both in their 70s, were last seen alive more than four years ago when they fuelled up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, north of Edmonton.
“Today’s news means that we will now have the opportunity to learn more about the investigation into our parents’ death when this case comes to trial,” Bret McCann, the couple’s son, said Friday.
“Our goal now is to ensure that the accused gets a fair trial and to that end we will not be speaking publicly at this time. We ask that you respect our privacy.”
Back in March, there were just a few weeks to go before the trial was to begin when the charges against Vader were stayed.
At the time, his lawyer, Brian Beresh, had harsh words for police and prosecutors.
He said officers publicly condemned his client without proper evidence and the Crown sped ahead with its prosecution, proceeding by direct indictment rather than holding a preliminary hearing.
“I’m very surprised and shocked that this would occur at this time of year, particularly where it’s difficult to get Mr. Vader bail,” Beresh said on Friday. “And I’m particularly shocked in that there have been no new developments in this case.”
He said since “the prosecution appeared to have no case whatsoever initially,” he doesn’t understand why they “now want to re-invent this situation.”
He said there was nothing dramatic about Vader’s re-arrest, saying his client was simply going about his life when he was approached by officers and taken into custody.
“He’s very upset,” Beresh said. “He had looked forward to clearing his name when the trial was set eight or nine months ago, and his desire to fight this continues.”
In March, Greg Lepp, head of the province’s Crown prosecution service, explained that his office had recently received new evidence from the RCMP. He said he couldn’t reveal what that evidence was, only that prosecutors needed time to examine it and couldn’t proceed with the trial at the time.
Earlier this year, Vader filed lawsuits against prosecutors and the RCMP claiming malicious prosecution. He alleged he was kept in custody on trumped-up charges until he could be charged with murdering the McCanns, as well as that he was mistreated by staff in the Edmonton Remand Centre.