A man in his 70s from Sundre, Alta., has been charged in a homicide case dating back 47 years.
Ronald James Edwards, 73, is accused of killing 16-year-old Pauline Brazeau in early January 1976.
He was arrested on Tuesday and charged with non-capital murder as defined by the Criminal Code at the time.
“Pauline’s case is an example of what can happen when investigators are determined to hold people accountable and get justice and closer for a victim’s family,” said Supt. Ryan Ayliffe of the Calgary Police Service at a press conference at the Cochrane RCMP detachment on Wednesday.
“No case is ever too old to be looked at in a different way.”
Brazeau moved to Calgary from her hometown of Yorkton, Sask., in 1975 with her infant daughter.
She was last seen leaving Peppe’s Ristorante near 17 Avenue and 7th Street S.W. around 3 a.m. on Jan. 9, 1976.
Her body was found a few hours later along the remote Jumping Pound forest reserve road, near Cochrane.
She was found partially clothed with multiple stab wounds.
In 2021, Alberta RCMP and Calgary police teamed up to re-analyze the cold case and others like it, using genetic genealogy.
“In this particular case, we’ve taken advantage of technology and advances in science, and we will always do that as science evolves,” said Supt. David Hall with the Alberta RCMP.
RCMP wouldn’t confirm if DNA from popular genealogy websites was used, but it often is, and a justice studies professor at Mount Royal University says it raises some privacy concerns.
“It won’t necessarily be DNA of the accused on these websites, but it’ll be a family member and then good old-fashioned police work narrows it down to a group of suspects, more police work will narrow it down to one individual,” Doug King said.
“If my relative put their DNA up on 23andMe, do I have a reasonable expectation of privacy related to the DNA that we share? Those are real legal issues. I think those have to be solved, but in the interim, these are all really good news stories.”
Hall says police are taking those concerns to heart.
“It’s an evolving technology where we’re looking to make sure that we’re balancing people’s privacy interests versus the need to sort of continue to advance these cases,” he said.
The RCMP doesn’t believe Brazeau knew Edwards and he’s not being linked to any other killings of the era.
“We’re always open to whether there are connections, but in this case, we haven’t established a connection,” Hall said.
Brazeau’s mother Lillian told the Calgary Herald in February 1982 that it was too painful to talk about the murder, saying, “It’s been a long time now and I have my granddaughter to look after.”
Lillian has since died.
“The Alberta RCMP Historical Homicide Unit investigators are committed to speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Insp. Breanne Brown, officer in charge of the Alberta RCMP serious crimes branch.
“The search for Pauline’s killer has never ended over the past 47 years. Throughout the years, we have always been hopeful that the person responsible would be held accountable. I am extremely grateful for all investigators who have worked on this investigation throughout the years and the partnership and support from the Calgary Police Service.
“I truly hope that Pauline’s surviving family find some closure as they receive answers.”
RCMP say Brazeau’s remaining family members are shocked by the charge and are too distraught to comment.
“For the last 47 years, Pauline’s connection to Calgary has been at the forefront of our investigators’ minds and they worked closely with the RCMP to ensure her case remained a priority,” Ayliffe said.
“If I were to leave you with one assurance, it would be that our investigators will not give up on our Calgary victims, no matter where they are found.”
Edwards remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court in Calgary on Nov. 14.
Source : CTV