Final appeal rejected for man convicted in deaths of missing Alberta seniors

Lyle and Marie McCann were in their 70s when they left their home in St. Albert in 2010 and vanished

Travis Vader arrives at court in Edmonton on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Travis Vader arrives at court in Edmonton on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Bret McCann had planned to stay awake at his home in Australia to find out whether the Supreme Court of Canada would hear an appeal by the man convicted of killing his parents.

Instead, he dozed off — but the news that the court had turned Travis Vader down still came like a dream come true.

“I’m terrific,” he said from his home in Melbourne, where it wasn’t yet 3 a.m. when he got the news.

“I just got up 10 minutes ago and saw the note from the Crown attorney. It’s just terrific news and I’m still absorbing it here.

“Just before Christmas, it’s terrific.”

In 2016, Vader was convicted of manslaughter in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, who were in their 70s when they vanished after leaving their home in St. Albert, just north of Edmonton, in July 2010.

The couple was last seen fuelling up for a camping trip to Abbotsford, B.C. Their burned-out motorhome and a vehicle they were towing were later discovered in the bush near Edson.

Their bodies have never been found. For years, the McCann family paid to have highway billboards put up asking for information that could help find them.

“It’s always the first topic of conversation,” said Bret McCann.

“Last summer, we spent a day with my aunt in Edmonton and my uncle came over as well and we spent the whole afternoon talking about it. It’s 10 years ago, but it’s topmost in my aunts’ and uncles’ minds, and I think about it all the time.”

If Vader’s trial had been a TV legal drama, its twists and turns would have consumed an entire season.

Shortly after the McCanns’ SUV was found, Vader was declared a person of interest and arrested on unrelated charges. He was eventually sentenced to nearly three years for arson and break-and-enters.

In 2012, he was charged with first-degree murder in the McCann case. Shortly after, he was convicted of earlier drug, theft and weapons offences.

But before he was sentenced on those charges, a mistrial was declared. Vader filed a lawsuit that claimed RCMP and justice officials had trumped up charges against him so they could keep him in jail until murder charges could be laid.

Two years later, the murder charges were stayed just days before trial was to begin. Mounties had failed to disclose evidence to Vader’s lawyers. Vader filed another lawsuit.

In the fall of 2014, he was found not guilty after a second trial on the drug charges and released for the first time in four years, but was rearrested within weeks in the McCann case.

READ MORE: Lawyers ask for stay or new trial for Travis Vader in deaths of missing seniors

The trial finally began in March 2016.

Vader was convicted of second-degree murder. But the judge had mistakenly found him guilty under an outdated section of the Criminal Code, so he replaced the verdict with one of manslaughter and sentenced Vader to life. Parole eligibility was set at seven years.

Vader still has one court date. On Tuesday, he is to appeal his sentence before the Alberta Court of Appeal. He also has a parole hearing in the new year.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Rossland council encourages everyone to support locals only recommendations. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Rossland council promotes ‘Locals Only’ inititative

Rossland mayor encourages people to restrict travel and enjoy what your home has to offer

Caroline Lafond is a Recreation Fish and Wildlife student at Selkirk College. Photo: Submitted
Ecological Comment: Help keep the goats of Gimli wild

A column written by Recreation Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College

The West Kootenay Timberwolves received $1535 in relief funding. Photo: Submitted
Three Rossland sports groups receive provincial funding

28 sports groups across the Kootenay will be receiving money from the Local Sport Relief Fund

Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union president Andy Davidoff. Photo: Jennifer Small
An open letter to Premier Horgan and Minister Whiteside: Let’s stop harming our children during a pandemic

A letter from Andrew Davidoff, President Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read