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

Students from Summerland’s Okanagan College often posed for photographs on the Big Rock. The rock was on the northern slope of Giant’s Head Mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Big Rock had been deposited during last ice age

Rock was once a prominent feature on Giant’s Head Mountain

The Fortunato family received the Bill Neilson Volunteer of the Year Award for their efforts with the Summerland Skating Club. (Contributed)
Summerland Skating Club members recognized for efforts

Three awards presented to members of Summerland club

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

(Phil McLachlan - Black Press file)
Enderby man prohibited from driving after colliding into Kelowna bus stop

Vehicle was towed, 35-year-old man served 24-hour driving prohibition

Columbia Elementary School. (Google Street View)
Pilot program comes to Columbia Elementary School in Penticton

The initiative, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, is for four-year-olds

A 50-year-old Lake Country man was arrested and cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl were seized from his vehicle after a concerned citizen called in the suspicious vehicle idling on the wrong side of Woodsdale Road Feb. 18, 2021. (Lake Country RCMP)
Drugs, cash seized from suspicious three-wheeled vehicle in Lake Country

Man, 50, arrested after police respond to concerned citizen’s call

Numbers of new COVID-19 cases for the week of Feb. 14 to 20 appear to be trending down for all local health areas in the North Okanagan-Shuswap. (BC Centre for Disease Control map)
Colours on COVID-19 map getting lighter for North Okanagan-Shuswap

Number of new weekly cases reported by BC Centre for Disease Control drop throughout region

Royal LePage Place, along with the adjacent Jim Lind Arena are the two ice arenas operated by the City of West Kelowna..—Image credit: contributed
$442,200 to replace aging ammonia chiller at West Kelowna arena

West Kelowna is the recipient of a provincial grant to replace the ammonia chiller

The husband wife team of Brett Turner and Olivia Fobert are the bakers and makers behind Joy Road Catering who are opening up a pop up bakeshop this May in the former Craft Kitchen. (Facebook)
Pop-up bakeshop opening in downtown Penticton

Joy Road Catering’s Bakeshop will be offering breads, pastries, lunch bowls and a marketplace

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Most Read