Charges Laid in Death of Alberta RVers

The RCMP has charged Travis Vader, 40, with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann.

Lyle and Marie McCann. Photo courtesy Global

Vader had been identified for some time by authorities as a suspect in the disappearance, but had yet to be charged.

It’s been more than twenty months since Lyle and Marie McCann went missing during a road trip from their home in St. Albert, a northern suburb of Edmonton, Alberta to visit family in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

The McCanns, both in their 70s, were last seen July 3, 2010 fueling up their motorhome at a gas station in their hometown of St. Albert. Their credit card had not been used since they bought that gas.

Their burning RV was found two days later at Minnow Lake campground near Edson, Alberta, about 120 miles west of Edmonton. The registration was pulled out of the motorhome before it was destroyed by fire; the documents showed that the McCanns were the owners.

On July 10, seven days after they left their home, the McCanns failed to meet their daughter, Trudy Holder, in Abbotsford, B.C. She contacted RCMP to report them missing.

That’s when RCMP first linked the missing couple to the burned RV.

Alberta Mounties admitted they botched the early stages of the investigation after police went to the burning motorhome and found the McCanns’ registration papers. They called the McCann home, but abandoned the chase when there was no answer.

If my motorhome is ever found burned in a remote location and the police phone my home to inform me and there’s no answer, I sure hope they send an officer out to talk to my neighbors and ask about my whereabouts. I also hope that they would do that immediately—not over a week after I’m reported missing.

Travis Vader takes stand in sentencing hearing . (Courtesy: edmonton.ctv.ca)

On July 16, the green Hyundai Tucson SUV the couple had been towing was found abandoned in thick bush about 18 miles east of Edson.

That same day, police announced a manhunt for Travis Vader who they said was a “person of interest” in the investigation, and warned the public not to approach him.

After Vader was arrested on unrelated warrants in the nearby hamlet of MacKay on July 19, RCMP upgraded his status to “suspect.”

Well-known to police, Vader has a long criminal record with 12 separate sets of charges dating back to 1995. He was wanted in connection with at least 17 drug, gun, theft, and arson charges stemming from two separate incidents.

Vader, 40, is a father of seven children, and was at one point a successful oilfield worker who owned his own businesses. But his life appears to have changed significantly after he developed a drug problem several years ago.

Though the McCanns’ remains have never been found, they were legally declared dead last summer.

In February, Vader was denied release following an Edmonton bail hearing. The decision brought an “enormous sense of relief” to the son of missing couple Lyle and Marie McCann.

“We are happy that he is staying behind bars,” said Bret McCann, at the time.

The reasons why Vader was denied release, and the arguments heard during the hearing, cannot be revealed due to a publication ban.

Vader’s first court appearance is slated for May 15 in Edson. He was arrested at the Edmonton Remand Centre, where he had been held on unrelated charges.

“Understandably, the public has many questions about what happened to the McCanns,” RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. Shawn LeMay said in a news release issued yesterday (April 23). “Those questions will be answered in court.”

The RCMP says they won’t be commenting further on the case.

The McCanns’ son, Bret McCann, said he is relieved to see charges laid after a wait that has lasted nearly two years.

“We’re very relieved,” he told the Edmonton Journal yesterday. “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

With charges laid, Bret McCann says his family is preparing for a new phase in what has been a long and agonizing journey.

He said he is looking ahead to the preliminary hearing, which could take place this fall, where the McCann family will get to hear details of the case and the investigation for the first time.

“I’m hoping this will help us find our parents and understand what happened,” he said.
Bret McCann said he also hopes the murder charges may prompt new people to come forward with new information A $60,000 reward for information is still being offered in the case.

“This isn’t over for us,” he said. “We still need to know where our parents are.”

Worth Pondering…
Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

—Helen Keller

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