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Stayed murder charge expires for man known as ‘Mill Woods rapist’

On Friday, April 5, 2019, Edmonton police released an updated photo of convicted sexual offender Dana Michael Fash.
On Friday, April 5, 2019, Edmonton police released an updated photo of convicted sexual offender Dana Michael Fash. Courtesy, Edmonton police

WARNING: This article contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some.

Dana Fash is a convicted sexual offender and police have repeatedly warned the public about him, but now he’s a free man.

Fash was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Jeanette Cardinal in 2016, a mother of six. Her body was found in an apartment in 2011, but Fash wasn’t arrested until five years later.

“Mr. Fash became a suspect in this investigation very early on. He was a person of interest within the first couple of days of the investigation,” Edmonton police Det. Ryan Tebb said at the time Fash was charged.

READ MORE: ‘Mill Woods rapist’ charged for 2011 homicide of Jeanette Marie Cardinal after new testing

Tebb credited advancements in technology with helping investigators see existing evidence in a new way.

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Fash was previously convicted of two violent sexual assaults dating back to 1994. He was 16 when he used a knife to force his way into a 65-year-old woman’s home before raping her.

A month later, this time armed with scissors, Fash raped a 44-year-old janitor working in an elementary school.

Fash was sentenced to 12 years in prison for those assaults. On his release, police issued a warning to the public, saying there was a high likelihood he would re-offend.

Wil Tonowski is now retired, but he used to head up the high-risk offender unit for Edmonton police. He assessed Fash at one time, and described him as “a very big, strong man with some strong deviant and violent tendencies.”

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

When the murder charge was stayed in February 2019, the Crown said it was because the evidence had changed.

Again, police warned the public about Fash and the possibility that he may violently re-offend.

Since his release, Fash has lived in the same neighbourhood as single mother Barb Sharpe.

“Honestly, I feel absolutely terrified,” she said this week. “I don’t sleep very well at night; neither does my daughter, constant nightmares.”

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Until recently, Fash was subject to a number of conditions. He had to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and was under supervision by the police behavioural assessment unit. However, with no new evidence forthcoming and the stayed murder charge reaching its one-year expiry, Fash is free.

READ MORE: Man known as ‘Mill Woods rapist’ breaches conditions, rearrested in Edmonton

That keeps Sharpe up at night and vigilant during the day. She keeps a bat nearby for protection and purchased security cameras — “trying to protect my house, protect myself,” she explained.

She wants Edmontonians to know about Fash’s violent history and hopes the community can band together to protect one another.

“I don’t think a lot of people know what he’s capable of or what he’s done in his past,” Sharpe said.