Murder charges stayed in case of missing elderly couple

Lyle Thomas McCann, 78, and his wife Marie, 77, were last seen in St. Albert, Alta. on July 3, 2010...

Lyle Thomas McCann, 78, and his wife Marie, 77, were last seen in St. Albert, Alta. on July 3, 2010 around 9 a.m. (Handout)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:14 PM ET

EDMONTON — The court has stayed first-degree murder charges against a man who was accused of killing an elderly St. Albert, Alta., couple whose bodies were never found.

Crown attorney Michelle Doyle directed the stay of proceedings against Travis Vader on Wednesday, just before a publication ban hearing was to begin.

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh then stood up and told court Vader had been prepared to go to trial on April 28 and “was looking forward to establishing his innocence.”

Vader had been accused of murdering Lyle and Marie McCann, who were 78 and 72 years old when they disappeared in July 2010.

Beresh called the case an “abuse of process,” claiming the Crown didn’t have the evidence necessary to secure a conviction.

Vader, 42, who is still being held in custody on other matters, didn’t show any emotion while sitting in the prisoner’s box, but he listened intently to the proceedings.

Outside court, Beresh criticized the Crown and police.

“In my analysis, it appears that the police rushed to a judgment very quickly without any solid basis and they never solidified that position,” he said.

He accused the RCMP of moving ahead on the case publicly to “get a response from members of the public” and said the investigation was “shoddily gathered” from “a bunch of strings that were never tied together.”

Beresh said Vader was “shocked and elated” by what happened, but it’s bittersweet because police “unfairly” indicted Vader by declaring him a suspect and yet didn’t charge him for months.

“People jump to conclusions. If the police did it, it must be right. If the police announce this, there must be some validity to it. And that’s a real problem,” he said, adding Vader “will always be tarred with that brush.”

The McCanns were last seen fuelling up their motorhome in St. Albert on July 3, 2010. They were travelling to Chilliwack, B.C., for a vacation and had scheduled to meet their daughter in nearby Abbotsford.

They never arrived.

Two days after they were last seen, their RV was found burning near the Minnow Lake campground, west of Edmonton. The SUV they were towing was discovered six days later, not far away in a remote wooded area near Carrot Creek.

Despite exhaustive efforts to find the McCanns, their bodies have yet to be recovered. Their deaths are presumed to have occurred a bit closer to Edmonton near the town of Peers.

A $60,000 reward remains available for information that leads to the couple’s whereabouts.

Vader was named a person of interest early in the case, but first-degree murder charges weren’t laid until April 2012.


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