March 10, 2016 2:57 pm
Updated: March 10, 2016 8:28 pm

No human remains in burned-out motorhome: Forensic expert at Travis Vader trial

WATCH ABOVE: Travis Vader's first-degree murder trial continued Thursday with an expert witness who testified he did not find human remains in debris collected by RCMP. Lyle and Marie McCann's daughter also took the stand. Kendra Slugoski reports.

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EDMONTON – A forensic anthropologist testified that no human remains were found in the burned-out motorhome of two Alberta seniors who vanished almost six years ago.

Owen Beattie told a murder trial Thursday that he sifted through debris and found no remains.

Lyle and Marie McCann, who were in their late 70s, were last seen fuelling up the motorhome in their hometown near Edmonton on July 3, 2010.

The motorhome was found on fire in bush about 200 kilometres west of the city two days later.

The bodies of the McCanns have never been found, but the Crown is arguing they were robbed and killed by a desperate meth addict.

READ MORE: ‘I plead not guilty to that charge’: Travis Vader at start of McCann murder trial 

Travis Vader has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

The McCanns’ daughter also testified Thursday.

Trudy Holder testified the last time she spoke to her father was on the phone the morning of July 3, 2010. Holder and her daughter had previously made plans to meet the McCanns in Abbotsford for a two-week camping trip. Holder said when they arrived at the Abbotsford airport on July 10, her parents weren’t there. She said she sat down and started making phone calls.

“My mom and dad are never not there. I started freaking out.”

Holder told the court she called several RCMP detachments in an attempt to file a missing persons report.

The McCanns’ only daughter spoke about her close relationship with her parents, including the last time she saw them alive. Holder told the court she met her parents in Red Deer on Mother’s Day. “My mom was my best friend,” Holder said. “We talked about everything that was going on.”

The trial for Vader, 44, began Tuesday with opening statements by lawyers.

TIMELINE: The key events in Travis Vader case 

Crown prosecutor Jim Stewart told a judge that DNA ties Vader to Lyle and Marie McCann’s abandoned SUV. Steward said a witness saw Vader driving the vehicle hours after the couple was last seen nearly six years ago.

Evidence will also show Vader called and sent text messages to a former girlfriend from the couple’s cellphone, said Stewart.

Vader’s lawyer, Brian Beresh, told the trial that there’s no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the McCanns are dead because their bodies have never been found and to say what happened to them is “speculation.”

But if they were killed, he added, police were under pressure to solve the case and focused solely on his client instead of others.

More to come…

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News and Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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