Alberta Crown says forensics, phone records tie Travis Vader to McCann killings

EDMONTON -- Court documents show forensic evidence, cellphone records, an undercover sting and a bullet hole in a hat are part of the Crown's long-running attempt to tie a suspect to the mysterious disappearance of two Alberta seniors.

See Full Article

Lyle and Marie McCann, both in their late 70s, were last seen in 2010 fuelling up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, a bedroom community north of Edmonton. They were on their way to a family camping trip in British Columbia.

Two days later, their burned-out motorhome was discovered in a wooded area near Edson, Alta. The SUV they had been towing was found concealed in another location more than a week after that.

Their bodies have never been found, but police believe they were killed near the hamlet of Peers, east of Edson.

RCMP quickly named Travis Vader as a person of interest in the case although it took nearly two years for them to charge him with two counts of first-degree murder.

The charges were stayed in 2014, just a few weeks before the case was set to go before a jury. The Crown says it realized Mounties hadn't disclosed all evidence in the case. The charges were reactivated last December and a new trial before a judge alone is to start in March.

Vader's lawyers have been arguing in court that the charges should be tossed out over abuse of the judicial process. A hearing on the issue is underway, and a judge lifted a publication ban on some documents Tuesday.

In a pretrial conference memorandum on Dec. 2, 2013, the Crown writes that "forensic evidence ties" Vader to the couple's SUV.

It says Marie McCann's blood was found inside as well as Lyle McCann's hat with a bullet hole in it.

The Crown alleges that Vader used the couple's cellphone the afternoon of July 3, 2010 -- the last day they were seen alive.

"The Crown's case is dependent upon circumstantial evidence, motive and exclusive opportunity, forensic evidence and post offence conduct evidence," reads the document.

None of the allegations have been tested in court, and the Crown states that the defence "does not admit these facts." Vader has pleaded not guilty.

Vader's lawyer Brian Beresh declined Tuesday to talk about the case.

The court documents show the use of undercover officers in the RCMP's investigation, dubbed Project Kontrail.

In November 2011, the documents say, Vader's sister Bobbi Jo Vader was involved in a "scenario" with some of the officers. At one point, during a trip from Edmonton to Calgary, they stopped at the remand centre in Red Deer so she could visit her brother.

An admitted crack addict, the documents say Bobbi Jo Vader initially told officers her brother couldn't have done it. But she later changed her mind.

"She said she believed that Travis was involved in the murders and she saw guns wrapped in blankets that could have come from the McCanns' motorhome," say the documents.

In an RCMP interview with one of the McCanns' children, Trudy Holder said her father kept an axe in the motorhome, under a seat, to fend off bears. He also owned several guns for hunting, she said, but he likely wouldn't have taken them on the trip.

Her mother also kept a small, loaded Derringer pistol in her eyeglasses case. Family didn't find it in their home after the couple disappeared.

Holder told police her father, a former long-haul trucker, used to talk about stopping to help others on the road but hadn't done so recently and wouldn't have if her mother was with him.

When on road trips, the couple typically pulled into rest areas to take breaks and make sandwiches, instead of stopping at restaurants, she said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 12 bodies recovered after landslide buries hotel in China

    World News CBC News
    Authorities in China say they've recovered the bodies of 12 people killed inside a hotel overrun by a landslide. State media reported Sunday that rescuers were able to pull out everyone trapped underneath rocks and debris after the Friday night landslide in Hunan province. Source
  • Dozens killed as train derails in India

    World News Toronto Sun
    HYDERABAD, India — At least 23 people were killed and 50 others injured after a passenger train derailed in southern India, railway officials said Sunday. Seven coaches of the Hirakand Express were thrown off the tracks around midnight Saturday, some landing on a goods train that was on a parallel track, said Divisional Railway manager Chandralekha Mukherji. Source
  • At least 32 dead in India train derailment

    World News CBC News
    At least 32 people were killed and 50 others injured after a passenger train derailed in southern India, railway officials said Sunday. Seven coaches of the Hirakand Express were thrown off the tracks shortly before midnight Saturday, some landing on a goods train that was on a parallel track, said Divisional Railway manager Chandralekha Mukherji. Source
  • Trump and Trudeau look 'forward to meeting soon' after Saturday phone chat

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated U.S. President Trump on his inauguration. The Prime Minister's Office says the two men spoke by phone Saturday, but it was not immediately clear how long the conversation lasted. The PMO said in an email that Trudeau noted the depth of the Canada-U.S. Source
  • Backcountry skier dead following avalanche near Nelson, B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    The BC Coroners Service says a woman is dead following an avalanche near Nelson, B.C. Spokeswoman Barbara McLintock says an adult woman was killed Saturday while skiing in the southern part of the province. No details have been released on the woman's identity or whether she was with anyone else at the time of the slide. Source
  • 74-year-old Ont. woman caught allegedly speeding at nearly twice the limit

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. - Ontario Provincial Police say a 74-year-old woman was pulled over in Kingston for speeding at nearly twice the posted limit. Police say the woman, who is a local resident, was doing 151 km/h in an 80 km/h zone on Highway 15 Friday afternoon. Source
  • Madonna drops F-bombs at Women's March in Washington [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Madonna turned the air blue at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. with a string of ‘F’ words during her stirring anti-Donald Trump speech. The pop superstar joined hundreds of thousands of activists who marched on the U.S. Source
  • 12 people likely dead after central China landslide

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- Authorities in central China say 12 people are likely dead inside a hotel overrun by a landslide. State media reported that rescuers have not detected signs of life from 10 people who were trapped underneath rocks and debris after the Friday night landslide in Hunan province. Source
  • Trump praises CIA, rips media coverage of inauguration [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump opened his first full day as president Saturday at a national prayer service, the final piece of transition business for the nation’s new chief executive before a promised full-on shift into governing. Source
  • Celebs join anti-Trump women’s marches [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — If you wondered where many of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities had gone during President Donald Trump’s inauguration, you didn’t have to wonder any longer on Saturday, when scores of them showed up at women’s marches in Washington and other cities to send the new president a pointed message that he was in for a fight — and that, as so many signs said, women’s rights are human rights. Source