EDMONTON — It’s been nearly six years since St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann, 78 and 77 respectively, vanished. On Tuesday a first-degree murder trial is to begin for longtime suspect Travis Vader. Here’s a timeline of the events leading up to the trial.
July 3: Lyle and Marie McCann are last seen fuelling up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, north of Edmonton, for a trip to Abbotsford, B.C.
July 5: The couple’s burned-out motorhome is discovered in the bush near Edson, about 200 kilometres west of St. Albert. Mounties phone the couple’s home and knock on their door. Officers later explain that they weren’t alarmed because vehicles are often found burning in the bush and it’s not unusual for people to be away from home during the summer.
July 10: Trudy Holder calls RCMP when her parents fail to show up in Abbotsford. Mounties start searching for the couple.
July 13: Two people go to the RCMP detachment in Prince George, B.C. and report having spotted a green Hyundai Tucson like the one the McCanns were towing behind their motorhome. But they are rebuffed. Mounties later issue a public plea for the tipsters to return.
July 16: RCMP announce that the SUV the couple was towing has been found off a bush trail near Edson; officers also name Travis Vader as person of interest in the case and release his photo.
July 19: Vader is arrested on outstanding warrants on unrelated charges.
July 20: A judge declares the McCanns dead so their wills and estates can be processed.
Dec. 22: Vader is sentenced to 33 months in prison for arsons and break-ins in the Whitecourt, Mayerthorpe and Barrhead areas in 2009. He gets credit for time served but is kept in custody on other charges.
April 18: Vader is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of the McCanns.
May 1: Vader is convicted of drug trafficking, theft and weapons charges that occurred in the Barrhead area in June 2010.
Oct. 19: Before he can be sentenced for those offences, a judge declares a mistrial because evidence was not properly disclosed to the defence. Justice June Ross cites the RCMP as “negligent” and orders a new trial.
Feb. 7: Vader files a lawsuit against the RCMP and justice officials, claiming they kept him behind bars on trumped-up charges until he could be charged with murdering the McCanns. He had faced charges related to passing off a forged employment letter in court, but they were dropped.
March 19: Crown prosecutor Michelle Doyle issues a stay on the murder charges, days before the murder trial is to begin, after discovering Mounties failed to disclose all evidence in the case to lawyers. The RCMP later make changes to the way disclosure is handled in major investigations.
April 22: Vader files another lawsuit, alleging misconduct by RCMP, malicious prosecution by the Crown and mistreatment by prison guards.
Oct. 8: Vader is found not guilty of the previous drug, theft and weapons charges after a second trial. He pleads guilty to failing to comply with a 2010 court order and is sentenced to one day of time already served. He is released from custody for the first time in four years and tells reporters his treatment by the justice system has been a “witch hunt.”
Dec. 19: RCMP arrest Vader and charge him again with murder in the deaths of the McCanns.
Jan. 26: Justice Denny Thomas denies an application by defence lawyers to drop the case over alleged abuse of process and an unreasonable delay in getting the case to trial.