EDMONTON- As Travis Vader’s double murder trial entered its third week on Monday, the Crown’s focus shifted to a stolen pickup truck it alleges Vader tried to set on fire.
Vader is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann who disappeared after they were seen fuelling up their motorhome at a gas station outside Edmonton on July 3, 2010.
Two days later, their motorhome was found on fire about 200 kilometres west of the city. The St Albert couple’s bodies were never found.
During the Crown’s opening statements of the trial, court heard that the McCanns’ SUV keys were found in the bed of the stolen truck.
That truck was owned by Gil Bertrand, who told the court on Monday that in 2010, he woke up one morning to find his 2006 Ford F-350 truck stolen from the Diamond Wood RV Resort which is located near Niton junction.
Bertrand said he left his truck unlocked with a spare set of keys in the console. He said he last saw his truck the evening before it was stolen.
“I just cleaned the truck that day,” Bertrand said. “It was really clean inside and out, it was sparkling.”
Bertrand said he carried a tool box, fire extinguisher and trailer hitch in the box of the truck.
That same truck was found in a field and eventually towed to an Edmonton salvage yard.
On Aug. 13, 2010, RCMP Cst. Jason E. Young went to take pictures and investigate.
Young, who works in the RCMP K Division auto theft unit, said when he opened the truck doors, he saw fire damage and could smell diesel fuel.
“It has a scent you don’t forget,” he told the court.
Young testified somebody tried to start a fire but it went out.
During cross-examination, Vader’s lawyer questioned the RCMP officer about the security of that vehicle while it was in the salvage yard.
The officer testified he didn’t know how long the truck was at the salvage yard and that anyone could have accessed the back of the truck.
The truck was towed to the St. Albert RCMP detachment on Aug.16, 2010.
Young testified there was a tidy tank, typically used to carry fuel, in the back of the truck; something the truck owner said didn’t belong to him.
The Crown has said that on July 3, 2010, Vader had been seen driving a stolen pickup truck without any money in the hamlet of Peers. The Crown has alleged a few hours later, Vader was seen driving an SUV and that he had money.