A week after Lyle and Marie McCann’s motorhome was found burning near a rural camp ground, Odd Gunderson and his accelerant-sniffing dog Jobi were called in by the RCMP.
The dog and its handler are trained to find ignitable liquids and inspected three different sites.
TIMELINE: The key events in Travis Vader case
Gunderson told the court Friday the black Labrador indicted it found something at the burn site near the Minnow Lake camp ground.
Jobi also sniffed through the motorhome debris that was hauled off to the Edson garbage dump and a storage yard.
In cross-examination, Travis Vader’s defence lawyer Brian Beresh asked Gunderson if an ignitable substance could “rub off” or be transferred from something else that may have been piled on top of the debris.
Gunderson told the court there was no way to detect how and when the ignitable liquid got there.
“If everything had been left and not moved three times… it would have made a big difference.”
The motorhome was discovered on July 5, 2010, two days after the McCanns were last seen gassing up and buying groceries for their camping trip.
Christopher Popielarz, an oilfield worker, was on his way home that evening when he saw the smoke billowing over the trees. He drove to the scene and called 911.
Popielarz said he noticed two “unusual” vehicles that passed him on the gravel road. He said one was a minivan, the other was smaller vehicle, which stood out because the road is most commonly used for logging and freight trucks.
The Edson volunteer fire department arrived 45 minutes after that 911 call. The fire captain at the time, Lee’Roy Lonsberry told the court he walked around the motorhome and did not see any bodies.
“Without a doubt, there was no remains in that motorhome.”
Once the blaze was extinguished, Lonsberry said the scene was then handed over to the RCMP.
He said the only thing RCMP asked him was if anyone on the department smoked a “particular brand of cigarette.”
Vader is on trial for two first-degree murder charges.
The Crown painted Vader as a drug addict who was on the run from police when he killed the McCanns.
Vader’s Defence said there is no evidence to suggest the McCanns are dead. Their bodies have never been found.