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Trial begins for man accused in 1978 murder of Monica Jack

WATCH: The trial has finally begun for Garry Taylor Handlen, who's accused of first degree murder in the death of Monica Rose Jack, who disappeared in 1978. Grace Ke reports.

The trial of a man accused in the 1978 murder of a 12-year-old B.C. girl began Monday in Vancouver.

Garry Taylor Handlen has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Monica Jack.

On Monday, the jury heard how Jack was last seen riding her bike north of Highway 5A in Merritt in May 1978. her bike was later found down an embankment about a mile from her home.

Crown attorney Mark Sheardown told B.C. Supreme Court that Jack’s skull and some bones were found north of Merritt about 17 years later and linked to her through dental records.

Handlen was arrested after an RCMP undercover operation that started in February 2014 while he was living in Minden, Ontario.

He was introduced to members of a fictitious organization that was involved with crimes such as loan sharking and debt collecting. He would eventually meet with a crime boss who told Handlen that he was being investigated for the murder of Monica Jack.

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In Crown’s opening statements, the jury heard how Handlen told the undercover officers that he grabbed her, took her in his camper, had sex with her and strangled her.

He later travelled with the undercover officers from Ontario to a highway in Merritt, where he said he abducted the girl.

The jury will be able to hear audio and see some video of the RCMP operation.

The jury trial will last 51 days.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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