Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

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Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 11:58 am

There's a case over in Canada involving an elderly couple called the McCanns who went missing in 2010. (the bodies never been found)

The trial is expected to reach a decision today on whether the accused, Travis Vader is guilty of murder.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/travis-vader-and-the-mccanns-6-years-to-a-decision-1.3761958

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/verdict-expected-today-in-trial-of-travis-vader-1.3073003

(Canada12 - are you familiar with this case?)


Last edited by Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 12:12 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Add another link)
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 12:16 pm

The fate of Lyle and Marie McCann is one of Alberta’s true crime mysteries. In July 2010, the pair, in their late 70s, set out from their long-time residence in St. Albert, Alta., in their meticulously maintained RV with a teal-wave stripe along the bottom. They towed their sea-foam green Hyundai SUV behind them.

Security footage caught them filling the vehicle with gas at around 10 a.m. before heading out across the mountains to vacation in Cultus Lake, B.C, just south of Chilliwack; they were to pick up their daughter from the airport in Abbotsford a week later. They set out west, presumably along the Yellowhead Highway and were never heard from again.

Their bodies have never been found.

When her parents failed to show up at the airport, Trudy McCann called police, prompting a province-wide search for the missing couple. Pictures of the couple sprouted at gas stations and on billboards.

Police soon identified a probable villain — Travis Vader — although they would take two years to charge him. The first-degree murder trial, the first stayed and the second to end in a verdict Thursday, was as bizarre as the crime that necessitated it, complete with a wrongful prosecution lawsuit, allegations that witnesses were bought off and evidence planted.

Vader himself has spent the past six years in and out of custody on numerous theft, drug and probation offences. Throughout it all, the 44-year-old drug addict and accused killer has remained adamant about his role in the disappearance of Lyle and Marie McCann. Not only is he innocent, he is confident of his acquittal.


In a communication the RCMP intercepted between Vader and his mother, Vader maintained his denials: “I love you. I did not do this. I didn’t have anything to do with this. I don’t know what they or, or, or, what they’re trying to f—in’ dream up for fickin’ – what they’re trying to do. But I did not do this Mom.”

****

RV camping was a passion for the McCanns. Lyle, who worked until his mid-70s as a truck driver, carting gravel and groceries within Alberta and B.C., loved to drive.

The couple’s trip to B.C. in July 2010 was to be their first long adventure of the year. The night before they left, their son, Bret McCann, and his wife, Mary-Ann, spent the evening with them eating KFC and playing pool. They also piled a collection of Blue Mountain Pottery and some used golf clubs in the back of the doomed RV to take to family in Vancouver.

One of their three grown children would hear from them every week while they were on the road, and the family always knew when they would leave and arrive at a destination.

On July 3, 2010, the McCanns stopped for gas and supplies, including detergent, cookies and No Name brand canned goods. That is the last thing of which investigators can be certain, thanks to a security camera at the St. Albert Superstore.

Two days later, RCMP were called to the site of a burning motor home near the Minnow Lake campsite, a rural area south of the Yellowhead Highway, just two hours from the McCanns’ home. No human remains were found in the charred wreckage. The Hyundai SUV hitched to the back of the RV was gone.

No one from the RCMP called the McCanns’ children to tell them about the burning motor home. “I know it sounds absurd,” McCann said. “That somebody would abandon a $200,000 motor home and burn it, but the cops said that burned vehicles are common, which is why they didn’t pursue it,” Bret McCann said.

It would take another five days before the family would figure out that something had gone wrong. When the McCanns failed to pick up their daughter, Trudy, from the Abbotsford airport on July 10 they “instantly” knew something was off, said Bret McCann, and called police.

“At first, we thought they had a breakdown or something,” Bret McCann said, his wife adding: “Or mom went for a walk by the river. She had a weak ankle and dad would never leave her. We thought we would find them — their (SUV) was missing. Maybe they were stopped, someone tied them up. That there would be a ransom note or something.”

On July 16, just a few kilometres north of the burned-out RV, police found the SUV half-hidden in the brush.

It would take months for the family to accept that Lyle, 78, and 77-year-old Marie McCann had died. For Bret McCann, that moment arrived “when the snow came.” They would wait a full year to sell their parents’ St. Albert home.

Vader was arrested on July 19 on outstanding warrants unrelated to the McCanns, but he was publicly identified as a “person of interest” in the McCann case.

Travis Vader once owned a successful oilfield consulting company, according to a 2010 police interview with his sister, Bobbi-Jo. He and his wife had six daughters and an adopted son and lived in Ninton Junction, not far from St. Albert. When they lost their home in a fire, the family moved to Summerland, B.C.

The marriage fell apart when Vader’s wife met someone else online, according to his sister. Vader began a years-long meth-and-booze-spiral that would include numerous run-ins with police over auto thefts, drugs and weapons offences. By 2009, Vader had nothing and his sister had to bail him out of jail.

Crown prosecutors say his world collided with the McCanns’ sometime between 10 a.m. and 2:14 p.m. on July 3, 2010. The elderly couple met a drug-addled Vader somewhere near Peers, Alta. He tried to steal from them, prompting a fatal confrontation. Vader then, allegedly, killed the remaining witness, prosecutors say.

That afternoon, five unanswered phone calls and two text messages were sent to Vader’s then girlfriend, Amber Williams, from the McCann’s cellphone. The first one came at 2:14 p.m.

“Hey babe its me how are you doing today you know you can still text my phone I can still receive text I miss you so much.”

A few minutes later: “I have been trying to call you and text you and email you and Facebook you and I can’t get in touch with you its me t”.

Several witnesses also testified that Vader showed up at a friend’s house that afternoon driving a seafoam green Hyundai SUV — dissimilar to the truck he’d been driving earlier in the day — and possessing a wad of cash, even though he’d claimed to have been broke that morning.

Bobbi-Jo, Vader’s sister, testified that she helped him unload the SUV of Tide, cookies and No Name cans, similar to the provisions purchased by the McCanns that morning.

And then there was the DNA evidence.

Vader’s DNA was found on the steering wheel, armrest and passenger seat of the McCann’s SUV. It was also found on the brims of two of Lyle McCann’s baseball caps. One of the hats had a bullet hole in it and was stained with drops of Lyle McCann’s blood. Traces of his DNA were on an empty can of Boxer beer in the vehicle, one of Vader’s favourite brands. Drops of Marie McCann’s blood were on the tins of No Name food.

A month after the Mounties found the McCanns’ SUV, they made another discovery: the stolen truck connected to Vader — the one he was believed to be driving the morning the McCanns disappeared — was re-examined by RCMP while it was in storage. In the back, they found the keys to the sea-foam green SUV.

The defence, in closing arguments in Vader’s first-degree murder trial, suggested that the case is fatally flawed.

Vader himself never took the stand, but the defence called dozens of witnesses, including Bobbi-Jo, who backed up his alibi. The Crown alleges that the McCanns were killed sometime between 10 a.m. and 2:14 p.m. on July 3. But several witnesses testified that Vader spent the evening of July 2 sleeping on a friend’s couch in Edmonton; he didn’t leave until around 2 p.m. on July 3.

Another friend, Dan Olson, told court that Vader then arrived at his home that afternoon driving a grey truck. He left and returned at about 5 p.m., flush with cash, driving an SUV and in want of a case of Boxer beer.

The defence claims that Olson had a financial incentive to suggest that Vader was driving a car that looked like the McCanns’, noting the witness “received ($24,000 in) compensation from the RCMP in the form of relocation expenses” and “received favourable recommendations from (the RCMP) in relation to his own charges.”

As for the text messages from the McCanns’ cellphone to Vader’s girlfriend, Vader contends he never possessed the phone. During trial, the defence hinted at an alternative theory: that the texts were instead sent by another man who was sweet on Amber Williams, a man named Terry McColman who died in 2011. McColman had a history of stealing and torching vehicles, and of drinking Boxer beer. McColman also had a habit of signing off his messages as “t.”

Then there’s the question of whether the McCanns died on July 3 at all. According to the defence, several witnesses spotted a matching RV and an elderly couple at the Minnow Lake campground on July 4.

Vader’s DNA could have landed in the SUV and on Lyle McCann’s hat simply by sneezing or DNA transfer, the defence argued.

And as for the McCanns’ keys found in the back of the abandoned grey truck Vader was seen driving, the defence contends: “The RCMP not only had the opportunity to plant the SUV key in the truck but, at that time, they also had the means … and a strong motive to tie the vehicle to Mr. Vader.”

All of this, combined with the fact that the McCanns’ bodies were never found, may add up to a reasonable doubt when Justice Denny Thomas delivers his verdict on Sept. 15.

Vader himself is confident of his imminent acquittal. In June, Vader called CBC Edmonton from jail to boast of his pending freedom. He accused the RCMP of conducting a “witch hunt” against him. Still insisting that he’d never been inside the McCanns’ SUV, Vader said he knows he’ll be found not guilty, that he will be able to “carry on with my life.”

“It’s just, why did they make it take six damn years?”

The first trial, in 2014, fell apart when the RCMP failed to turn over evidence to the defence. It would take almost a year for Vader to be re-arrested and a new trial to be scheduled for this past spring.

The new trial was scheduled to last only a few weeks but stretched to three months. Vader himself contributed to the delays, showing up late for court more than once. He told the judge he slept in and on another occasion blamed car trouble. Then in May he was arrested after he tested positive for meth and contacted a Crown witness.

The judge got so fed up he revoked his bail.

“Waiting is very difficult,” admitted Bret McCann, a retired IT manager who fidgets with his hands in a way that hides a mixture of sorrow and exhaustion and restlessness. “It will be a relief to have it over,” he added, pausing. “I’m convinced that (Vader) did it. It’s just a question of… I don’t know what the judge thinks.”

Throughout the ordeal, the family has pulled together. His daughter and grandchildren moved home from Australia; at least 10 family members were in the courtroom every day.

It will be a relief to have it over

And they all remember Lyle and Marie fondly.

The pair both came from farm families in central Alberta. Marie worked as a waitress at a Chinese restaurant in Red Deer and Lyle would stop in to eat while hauling gravel. They married in 1952.

“They were so in love. The most in-love couple I have ever met in my life. They were holding hands and calling each other ‘Darling’ all the time,” Mary-Ann McCann said.

For the most part, Bret McCann praises the RCMP and the Crown. But he struggles to think about the possibility of a not guilty verdict. “I’m going to be,” he said, pausing and looking at the floor, “I’m just going to be really pissed off and very disappointed.”

It’s likely that Bret McCann and his siblings will never know what happened to their parents. The $60,000 reward posted by CrimeStoppers for information on the case went unclaimed. The money will now go to some kind of public art in St. Albert. The family hopes to name the piece “Darling.”
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 12:32 pm

An article from a few months back on what the defence say:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/travis-vader-crown-failed-says-defense-1.3649872
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 1:00 pm

http://worldjusticenews.com/travis-vader-live-stream.htm

Apparently you can watch it live on the above. Although it will be this evening sometime probably as Canada are 5 hours behind.
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  canada12 on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 2:53 pm

I am familiar with it - it was all over the news when the couple disappeared and it's been in the news a lot recently because of the ruling about the camera in the courtroom. I'm curious about the outcome as well. ! It's happening in Alberta, so they're 7 hours behind you.
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 3:30 pm

I've never heard of it until this morning. Yes, I can imagine it's been 'big' news over there.

Is it 7 hours then.. I was just going off the stream link where it had it 5 hours behind.

From what I've read (albeit only the above and a bit more), then this Travis chap is clearly guilty. As you say it will be interesting what the outcome will be.

What's the general feeling amongst yourself and other Canadians about it who are a lot more familiar with it all?

Guilty, not guilty or unsure... sort of thing?
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 3:49 pm

https://twitter.com/CBCEdmonton/status/776430929665363968?lang=en-gb

There's a short (2min) video on this link giving a timeline of events unfolding etc from day 1.
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  canada12 on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 4:44 pm

I haven't really formed an opinion because tbh I haven't followed the previous trial or the evidence for / against this fellow. I remember reading that there was DNA evidence and a lot of other circumstantial evidence against this guy. But I'd be interested to see how this judge interprets the evidence as a whole. Also there's no jury in this trial - it's judge only.

The news feed probably came from Eastern Canada which is 5 hours behind the UK. However Alberta is a western province which is 7 hours behind the UK, and I'm in BC (next door to the west) which is 8 hours behind :-)
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 5:02 pm

Thanks Canada.

I've just started watching it on the stream although there's nothing to see or hear. An empty courtroom.

ETA

It's livened up - the judge has just entered and is speaking...

ETA again

He says he will be making comments for the next 45 minutes so I won't be around for the announcement later.

Can someone be so kind to post it up when it comes through.
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  canada12 on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 5:06 pm

He's apparently not going to read the entire judgement, just an abbreviated version of it. I'm at work unfortunately so I can't follow this but if I see a news report I'll send it over.
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 5:11 pm

Cheers.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/travisvader?f=tweets&vertical=default&src=hash&lang=en-gb

There's also a twitter link here for updates which I've just found so can also check that later on. Just won't be able to watch it live.

Will watch it for another 10 mins or so before have to shoot off but really interesting.


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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  canada12 on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 6:44 pm

http://globalnews.ca/news/2941712/travis-vader-double-murder-trial-verdict-to-be-delivered-live-on-camera-thursday/

Travis Vader found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in killing of Lyle, Marie McCann
Head By Andrew Russell National Online Reporter Global News

Travis Vader has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of St. Albert, Alta., couple Lyle and Marie McCann, who disappeared without a trace more than six years ago while on a road trip to British Columbia.

Judge Denny Thomas delivered the verdict in an Edmonton courtroom Thursday morning. The decision was livestreamed online and broadcast on television, a first in Alberta’s history.

Follow the Global News live blog below
Related

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‘It will be a first’: Edmonton media lawyer weighs in on decision to allow camera in court for Travis Vader verdict
Travis Vader first-degree murder trial day one Why televising the Travis Vader verdict could lead to more cameras in courts
Former roommate takes stand at Travis Vader’s double murder trial
Travis Vader arrives at court in Edmonton on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Crown witness ‘Bandana Dave’ says he saw Travis Vader driving green SUV

READ MORE: Alberta judge allows camera in court for Travis Vader verdict

Thomas told the court there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Vader had planned to kill the elderly Alberta couple.

“I cannot conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Vader killed the McCanns in a planned and deliberate manner,” Thomas said in his decision. “The killing of the McCanns was not a first-degree murder. It is therefore a second-degree murder.”

The Crown had argued Vader, 44, was a crystal meth addict living in a makeshift camp when he encountered the McCanns and killed them during a robbery.

READ MORE: The case against Alberta murder suspect Travis Vader

Family members of the McCanns wept in court and hugged one another as the verdict was read.

The RCMP thanked Justice Thomas for his thorough review and offered condolences to the McCann family.

“Our thoughts are with the McCann family, whose demonstrated respect for the criminal trial process continues to set a very high standard for all Canadians,” the RCMP said in a statement.

The bodies of the McCanns, both in their late 70s, have never been found. Vader’s DNA and a fingerprint were found in their SUV.



The vehicle and the couple’s burned-out motor home were discovered west of Edmonton days after the couple vanished.

In his decision, the judge determined Vader’s motivation to rob the McCanns at a campground when he encountered them was because he was broke, hungry and addicted to crystal meth.

“The McCanns and their property were likely nothing more than a target of opportunity – an opportunity that Mr. Vader took,” the judge said.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. You can read our earlier story below.

*With files from The Canadian Press
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 7:01 pm

Thanks for the update.

Sounds like the right decision. How long has he got then?

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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 9:32 pm

Just heard he has to do a min 10 years before parole....

So is that a 20 stretch then....

Looking forward to watching it all again. I'm sure it can relate to the other McCann case...

No body but evidence etc...

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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  canada12 on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 9:41 pm

I think it's an automatic "life" sentence however in Canada Life doesn't mean Life. He's eligible to apply for parole after 10 years. If the parole board thinks he's rehabilitated he can be released. If they think he's still a danger to society, they can reject his parole, but he has the right to keep appealing that every year.
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Re: Travis Vader and the McCanns: 6 years to a decision

Post  Andrew on Fri 16 Sep 2016, 11:20 am

http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/travis-vader-verdict-wont-stand-say-some-legal-experts-%E2%80%94-latest-twist-in-troubled-murder-case/ar-BBwdFsX
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