REGINA – A 32-year-old Regina man has been charged with First-Degree Murder in connection with the disappearance of 23-year-old Regina woman Richele Lee Bear.
Bear disappeared in August 2013, and though her body has not been found police say their investigation supports the belief that she is deceased.
Clayton Bo Eichler has also been charged with Offering an Indignity to a Human Body – it’s alleged he had intercourse with Bear’s body after she had been killed.
Eichler, who was already in police custody, was arrested and charged on Thursday.
Though Bear’s body has not yet been found, investigators have sufficient evidence to support the murder charge.
“She was a very happy part of the community,” said Richele’s mother Michele Bear. “She was loved and cherished, everyone loved her so much.”
On December 31, 2013 Eichler was arrested and charged with Second-Degree Murder in connection with the death of 21-year-old Kelly Nicole Goforth, whose body had been discovered in the 1700 block of McAra Street in September. Now, that charge has been upgraded to First-Degree Murder.
Kelly’s mother Maxine Goforth attended Eichler’s court appearance on Friday, and says she’s happy his charges have been upgraded.
“My daughter wasn’t taken for nothing,” Goforth told reporters. “She was an angel to begin with.”
“I can’t say (whether or not) he’s responsible, but I know my daughter sacrificed her life to get him off the street,” she said.
Investigators say there is no known connection between Bear and Goforth.
At a news conference Friday morning, police could not confirm any connection between Eichler and any other missing persons cases.
“Obviously, we don’t have any evidence to suggest at this time that this individual is responsible for any more crimes,” said Regina Police Chief Troy Hagen.
“We have many indigenous women who are missing and later found murdered in Canada,” said Erica Beaudin, Urban Services Manager with Regina Treaty Status Indian Services. “We will not rest until we bring our women home and if necessary the persons are held responsible for their deaths.”
Beaudin identified Brandy Wesaquate, Danita Bigeagle, Tamra Keepness, Joyce Tillotson, and Patricia Favel as Saskatchewan women who remain missing.
If convicted, Eichler would meet the criteria for a serial killer, which Hagen described as “an unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender in separate events.”
Last November the Regina Police Service issued a lengthy statement refuting rumours of a serial killer preying on First Nations women in the Regina area.
“At that time when I spoke to the issue there was no evidence to suggest that there was,” Hagen said Friday. “Today we know an individual from our community is responsible for two homicides that are unrelated to one another.”
Bear’s death is classified as Regina’s 10th homicide of 2013.
Eichler’s next court appearance is May 23.
“I don’t have closure right now, I think it’s just the beginning,” Bear said. “It’s going to be a long, hard process for me and my family.”
With files from Global’s Mike McKinnon