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Community's hearts are with McCann family

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 06:00 am

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There was plenty of breaking news this week, but there was one headline that hit especially close to home: Murder charges stayed against Vader.

Travis Vader, 42, is the only person ever charged in the disappearance of St. Albert residents Lyle and Marie McCann, both in their 70s, who disappeared in July 2010.

The McCanns remain missing, and the circumstances surrounding their disappearance have put police on the trail of foul play. Their camper was found destroyed by fire on July 5, 2010 near Edson, while their SUV was found not that far away in the bush a few days later.

Much criticism has been levelled at RCMP who initially investigated the crime and, even after the McCanns’ destroyed camper was towed, no missing person’s case was opened until five days later when the couple failed to meet their daughter in Chilliwack, B.C. for a camping trip.

As well, the area where the burning camper was located apparently wasn’t secured for some time, allowing possible evidence to be exposed to the elements. If the motorhome location wasn’t secured, any evidence would have been exposed to one of nature’s most powerful forces: moisture. Powerful evidence like DNA and muddy tracks would be damaged or destroyed.

Then there was the strange odyssey of Vader. He was arrested in July 2010, but weeks stretched by as the public awaited word of charges linked to the McCanns’ suspected murder. Vader was charged almost two years later on April 23, 2012 with two counts of first-degree murder in relation to the McCanns’ disappearance.

Another two years later, the charges against Vader are stayed. In a nutshell, it means the Crown will not proceed with the charges, presumably because it lacks the evidence to go to trial. The Crown has one year to pick them back up again, though.

It is absolutely heart-wrenching that the McCann family has had to endure nearly four years of uncertainty. We cannot presume to understand the emotional pain they continue to experience. Although Vader continues to face unrelated multiple charges of theft, drugs and careless storage of a firearm, he will seek bail because his lawyer says he can no longer be held on the stayed murder charges.

The McCanns, and indeed the community, are left with an empty feeling. Four years later, and justice seems about as far away as it did at the time of the couple’s disappearance. The police assure us they’re still looking for answers, but as time moves on, so too does our hope that the truth will be discovered.


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