EDMONTON – As Travis Vader’s double murder trial continued Tuesday, an RCMP officer called in to investigate a stolen truck that may have been in contact with Vader told an Edmonton courtroom he found a key belonging to Lyle and Marie McCann’s green Hyundai SUV.
On Aug. 16, 2010, Sgt. Grant Goulet inspected the stolen gold Ford F-350 at the St. Albert RCMP detachment.
Goulet testified he walked around the vehicle and after a half-hour inspection he noticed a key in the back box of the truck.
“That key was a Hyundai key,” Goulet said. He told court he took the key to RCMP K Division in Edmonton where the McCanns’ SUV was being held.
That SUV was discovered on a rural property a month earlier (July 16, 2010) more than a week after the McCanns’ burning motorhome was found near the Minnow Lake Campground.
Goulet said he pressed the key fob “and the lights flashed.”
“My reaction to that was, ‘Wow.'”
Goulet then tried the key in the driver’s side door. He told court the key locked and unlocked the door. The final test was the ignition, and Goulet said the key “powered up” the SUV. However, the vehicle’s engine did not start.
During cross examination, Vader’s lawyer, Brian Beresh, questioned Goulet about early investigations and how the key was missed. The truck was reported as stolen and located on an open lease west of Edmonton.
An RCMP Const. working in Edson in July 2010 told court the stolen truck was found on an oil lease site near Range Road 140, north of Highway 16, roughly 25 kilometres north of Niton Junction. He said the call came in about the abandoned vehicle on July 17, 2010.
The Edson Const. said he called in the Emergency Response Team because the McCanns’ SUV was found the day before not too far away.
During his questioning, Beresh asked Goulet if he knew that the truck sat at an Edmonton salvage yard for 25 to 27 days.
The truck was damaged on the inside, with charring on the windows. On Monday, an investigator with the auto unit said someone tried to start a fire but it went out. He told court the interior smelled like diesel.
Beresh pointed to pictures of a tube running from the tidy tank in the back of the truck and through a window.
“Any conscientious investigator would look around that tank to say, ‘What’s here?'”
Beresh also questioned Goulet about starting the McCanns’ SUV with the key. Goulet testified the key didn’t start the SUV but powered it up by turning on the dash lights.
On Monday, the owner of the stolen truck, Gil Bertrand, told court he left the truck unlocked with a spare set of keys in the console. He said it was stolen from the Diamond Wood RV Resort which is located near Niton Junction.
TIMELINE: The key events in the Travis Vader case
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 St. Albert gas station on July 3, 2010. Their bodies were never found.
The trial is expected to last until mid-April.