February 14, 2019 1:16 am
Updated: February 14, 2019 10:02 pm

Murder charge dropped against Edmonton man known as ‘Mill Woods rapist’

WATCH ABOVE: The man known as the "Mill Woods rapist" is no longer facing a murder charge and police are issuing a warning to the public about the risk they believe he poses. Kendra Slugoski reports. (From Feb. 14, 2019)

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A convicted violent sex offender known in Edmonton as the “Mill Woods rapist” is out of jail and a second-degree murder charge he previously faced has been stayed.

On Thursday morning, Alberta Justice confirmed there are currently no criminal charges pending against Dana Michael Fash.

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In December 2016, Fash, 40, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Jeanette Marie Cardinal.

Cardinal’s body was found in an apartment suite on 119 Avenue and 81 Street in February 2011.

READ MORE: Dana Fash appears in court in Jeanette Marie Cardinal homicide case

Alberta Justice said senior Crown prosecutors thoroughly examined the case and determined it “no longer met the prosecution standard of ‘reasonable likelihood of conviction,’ based on changes in the evidence.”

Alberta Justice said it would be inappropriate to get into details of the evidence.

“We understand this decision is difficult for the family of the victim, and extend our deepest sympathies on their loss,” read a statement from the department Thursday.

The second-degree murder charge was stayed on Wednesday.

The news comes one day after police issued a warning that Fash had been released from jail and they believe he “will commit another violent offence against someone while in the community.”

“Fash is believed to be of significant risk to the community and as such, the Edmonton Police Service has a duty to warn the public,” a news release said.

READ MORE: Release of ‘Mill Woods rapist’ spurs warning from Edmonton police

Police said Fash is living in the Edmonton area and that he has a “history of breaking and entering residences or other public buildings and sexually assaulting known or unknown adult females within.”

“Fash’s risk for violence and sexual violence increases with the consumption of drugs and alcohol,” police said.

Watch below: In December 2016, Dana Fash, also known as the Mill Woods rapist, was charged with murder. Fletcher Kent covered the story. (Filed Dec. 22, 2016).

According to police, Fash currently has shoulder-length hair and a full beard. He is six-foot-one and weighs about 460 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

Police said they issued the warning because they believe the public’s right to know about Fash’s whereabouts outweigh any privacy concerns. They said the warning is not intended to spur any vigilante action.

Violent history

Fash was handed a 12-year sentence in 1997 for sexually assaulting two women. One was a 44-year-old janitor he attacked with scissors in a staff washroom at Malcolm Tweddle Elementary School in Mill Woods. Another was a grandmother he attacked at knifepoint.

Both attacks took place in 1994 when he was 16 years old, but he was tried as an adult.

In 2009, he was put behind bars again for breaching conditions of his conditional release that required him to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Wil Tonowski was the detective in charge of the Edmonton Police Service’s high-risk offender section for about a decade before he retired in 2007. He has assessed Fash in the past and describes him as “a very big, strong man with some strong deviant and violent tendencies.”

“Back in my day, we had decided as a team that he remained a high risk to reoffend,” Tonowski said. “He did take a number of programs that are designed to reduce his risk to the community, but there were still concerns that he wasn’t really internalizing that information.”

While he’s not with the EPS anymore, Tonowski said he can “pretty much guarantee the members of the high-risk offenders section are very busy right now.

“They will be reviewing this case.”

The retired officer explained that police don’t make the decision lightly to issue public warnings like this.

“Police don’t release information about low risk or moderate risk because there’s hundreds and hundreds of them, unfortunately,” he said.

“These are the worst of the worst. When police have to go and tell people, ‘This is a bad individual,’ people should actually take a look at that picture and try to avoid that individual if they can.”

Tonowski said police are likely heading to court to get conditions imposed on Fash. He said police also have the option of alerting people in the specific neighbourhood Fash moves into, should they choose.

“These guys have to live someplace, and they have to live someplace where there are other people living. They just cannot keep them in jail forever. They are going to get out.

“The sentence is over eventually and they are released.”

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