Edmonton police say the death of a man found in a northeast alleyway over the weekend has been ruled a homicide and that the death is linked to a second scene where a burned SUV was later located.
At around 10 p.m. Sunday, police were called by fire crews to assist with a fire in an alley in the area of 126 Avenue and 73 Street. When crews arrived, the fire was already out, and a man’s body was discovered on the driveway of a property that appears to be slated for demolition.
A neighbour told Global News their surveillance camera captured video of a vehicle driving by, dumping a body in the snow and leaving the scene. The neighbour said the video shows the vehicle returned later, and the body was set on fire.
At around 11 p.m. Sunday, police said they were called to a vehicle fire north of the Evergreen mobile home park, which is located in the area of 173 Avenue and Meridian Street. Officers discovered a burned 2010 silver Mitsubishi Outlander that detectives believe is linked to the homicide investigation.
On Wednesday, police identified the victim as 24-year-old Aaron Watt. Acting Staff Sgt. Michelle Greening with the EPS Homicide Section said Watt lived in the Edmonton area and was known to police.
An autopsy ruled his death was homicide, but police are not releasing the cause of the man’s death at this time “for investigative reasons.”
“The burned vehicle is associated to Mr. Watt,” Greening said Wednesday.
“The vehicle as also observed on video surveillance in the area where Mr. Watt’s body was burned.”
Police are now hoping to speak with anyone who works at or visited a gas station between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Sunday, and witnessed someone travelling in the suspect vehicle who was filling up a red plastic 5L Sceptor gasoline jerry can.
Greening said the gas station could be in Edmonton or the surrounding area. She said the jerry can could have also been purchased at a department store.
Officers urge gas station owners to review their surveillance video and check for any sales of a 5L Sceptor gasoline jerry can.
“Potentially either purchasing the jerry can or filling the jerry can, and they may or may not have been in the Mitsubishi Outlander,” Greening said.
Police would not release any details about the suspect(s). Police do not believe Watt’s death was a random act, Greening said.
Court documents show that Watt had an extensive criminal record. He was charged with a number of offences from an alleged incident on Sept. 7, 2019, including break and enter, mischief, failing to comply with a probation order and possession of a controlled substance. Watt was also facing charges of aggravated assault, possession of a prohibited/restricted weapon, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon, from alleged incidents in February 2019.
He’d been sentenced and served time in jail for possession for the purpose of trafficking in 2016, and theft of a motor vehicle (also in 2016).
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.