RCMP arrest Alberta man in slayings of two aboriginal women

59-year-old suspect faces two counts of first-degree murder

(Chris Wattie, Reuters)

(Chris Wattie, Reuters)

LLOYDMINSTER, Alta. — RCMP have charged an Alberta man with the murders of two aboriginal women found dead several years ago.

Jeannette Chief was last seen in Lloydminster on the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary on June 2, 2007. She reportedly told family on the nearby Onion Lake Cree Nation that she was heading to the city for the weekend.

Four days later, officers discovered the 48-year-old’s body in a rural area on the Saskatchewan side of the Lloydminster.

Violet Heathen, also from the Onion Lake reserve, was last seen in Lloydminster on May 15, 2009. The 49-year-old was spotted outside a bar getting into a truck with Saskatchewan licence plates.

Her remains were found six months later, about 25 kilometres to the west, near the village of Kitscoty, Alta.

Mounties arrested a 59-year-old man Tuesday night in Lloydminster.

Heathen’s sister, Ruby Whitstone, posted her reaction to the arrest on Facebook.

“I have so many mixed emotions,” she said. “I’m in shock and relieved at the same time. It’s like what I said before, ‘salt poured to an open wound’ … almost 7 years later, today we will know who is responsible for our Sister’s death.”

Officers from several specialized units in both Alberta and Saskatchewan helped with the lengthy murder investigations.

Cpl. Hal Turnbull said the suspect faces two counts of first-degree murder and was to be formally charged later Wednesday.

“It’s just a matter of what additional charges through the investigation that they can come up with,” he said.

“Tomorrow, we can release more details.”

A news conference is scheduled to take place in Edmonton on Thursday. Relatives of both women are to attend, said Turnbull.

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