A man dubbed a person of interest earlier in the week is now a murder suspect.
On Wednesday, police say Philip Toner, 41, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder in relation to the death of Brenda Ware in southeast B.C.
The 35-year-old’s body was found on Thursday, May 6, along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park, 54 kilometres northeast of Radium.
Two days later, on May 8, B.C. RCMP sought public assistance, asking anyone who had seen Ware or her red Jeep Cherokee between May 4 and May 6 to contact them.
On Monday, May 10, police again sought public assistance in locating a person of interest, that being Toner.
RCMP said at the time that Ware and Toner were known to each other, but that their relationship was not being released. Police said Toner’s whereabouts were unknown, but that he had ties to both B.C. and Alberta.
Then on Tuesday, May 11, police said Toner had been located in the Okanagan by Lake Country RCMP.
In announcing Toner has been charged, RCMP said he appeared in Kelowna provincial court on Wednesday morning, and that he has been remanded into custody in order to be transported back to Alberta.
“B.C. RCMP, in consultation with the B.C. Prosecution Service, liaised with the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service to lay the official charge in Alberta courts, as police alleged the offence was carried out in Alberta,” police said.
“Although a charge has now been laid in relation to this complex, inter-provincial criminal investigation, the investigation is still very much active and ongoing at this time, we continue to share Toner’s photo in an effort to advance the investigation,” said B.C. RCMP Major Crime Section Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon.
Police are asking anyone who may have had contact with Toner between May 4 and May 11, either in Alberta or B.C., including providing a ride to a hitchhiker between Columbia Valley and the Central Okanagan, to contact the Southeast District Major Crime Unit Information Line at 1-877-987-8477.
Amy Adams, who says she was a longtime friend of the victim, said Ware was a well-known hairdresser in the Sundre area.
She described Ware as a loyal friend who was a beloved member of the community.
Adams said she last spoke with Ware on Monday, May 3, and when she found out her friend was missing, she immediately started to look for her but it was too late.
“I wish I could have done more,” she said. “I wish I could have found her.”
Adams said she was devastated when she found out Ware was the victim of a homicide.
She said Ware had been her friend through thick and thin and was an auntie to her children.
“It’s a really sad time for her family,” Adams explained. “She was very family-oriented. She was always checking in with her family and she would never miss a day of work.”
–With files from Global News’ Jenna Freeman