Alberta will investigate how accused murderer escaped guard

EDMONTON – A man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife escaped custody at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton Tuesday night.

Christopher Nagel, 36, had been at the University Hospital since he was arrested in the death of his wife Rienna, whose body was found in the couple’s Spruce Grove home last weekend.

“The inmate asked a Correctional Peace Officer for permission to go to the washroom,” said Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis on Wednesday. “His restraints were removed at that time and he went into the washroom alone. A few minutes later, the officer checked the inmate and he was gone.”

Denis said Nagel escaped through a side door in the washroom around 9 p.m.

“The Corrections Officer immediately notified hospital security, the Edmonton Police Service, and the Edmonton Remand Centre,” he added. “The hospital was searched and the inmate was found hiding on the fifth floor of the hospital at 2:15 a.m. this morning by the Edmonton Police Service.”

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He was taken into custody without incident.

“To the best of our knowledge, the inmate did not leave the hospital,” said Denis. “No one, including the other patients or hospital staff, were injured.”

On Wednesday, Denis apologized for the attempted escape.

“This inmate should not have been allowed to escape from the Correctional Officers, period.”

“Justice and Solicitor General, and I, as the responsible minister, apologize for this. This simply should not have happened,” Denis said.

It’s expected Nagel will now face a a charge of Escaping Lawful Custody. The matters are currently before the courts.

Denis has launched an investigation into how Nagel – who was under guard in hospital – managed to escape.

“This morning I ordered an investigation to find out immediately what happened and to ensure what we can do to make sure this does not happen again.”

“Security measures were implemented by University of Alberta Hospital security,” Denis added. “We have requested to obtain those procedures as part of the investigation.”

Denis said the investigation should be complete next week.

EPS Chief Rod Knecht briefly touched on the situation on Wednesday, but added it was difficult for him to weigh in.

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“If it’s another police service, if we can help… an individual’s escaped. Obviously, we’re going to help any way we can, in the interest of public safety,” Knecht said.

“It’s tough for me to comment on why exactly that happened… The situation last night… that wasn’t our prisoner.”

Nagel was scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday morning in Stony Plain on the first-degree murder charge, but it was put over to May 21.

Following the discovery of Rienna’s body in Spruce Grove home, RCMP say they transported Nagel from the scene to hospital on Saturday suffering from self-inflicted injuries.

Denis said Wednesday that Nagel remains in hospital under increased guard.

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