Charges have been laid in the alleged murders of three Prince George residents in the past two years.
Suspicions about the deaths of Jill Stacey Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Frances Maas, 35, and the disappearance of Natasha Lynn Montgomery, 23, have now been applied to a single suspect: Cody Alan Legebokoff, 21.
No arrest was required because Legebokoff was already in prison, on trial for the killing of 15-year-old Loren Donn Leslie in December.
It was that case that brought Legebokoff into police view for the first time. A Mountie on night patrol between Vanderhoof and Fort St. James felt suspicious about a vehicle pulling onto the highway from a rarely used side-road.
Behind the wheel was Legebokoff, and soon police and Conservation Officer officials were working together to interview the young man, then 20, and follow his tracks back to their origin. It was there they found the body of Leslie, and the allegations began to circle around Legebokoff.
Three other cases of missing or murdered women - Stuckenko, Maas and Montgomery - were already under investigation for incidents with perceived similarities. On Monday, RCMP confirmed their suspicions.
"All four of these women have been connected to a single suspect," said RCMP Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick of E-Division Major Crime Section at a large gathering of police, other officials, and family members of the victims.
He stressed Legebokoff is not suspected in any other cases, despite the many women who have lost their lives or disappeared in the region's Highway of Tears.
"Obviously that was the centre of our concern," said Fitzpatrick. "However, after Mr. Legebokoff was arrested, and the comparison to the victimology, we have discovered no nexus between the victims of Operation E-Pana [the RCMP's name for the Highway of Tears operation] and these women."
A number of RCMP divisions in the north and in other parts of B.C. were used in the operation, from forensic analysts to behaviour specialists. They even took the unusual step of including a state-of-the-art international forensics team based in Pennsylvania to examine evidence in two of the cases.
The families of the four victims were all represented at the announcement held at RCMP North District headquarters in Prince George Monday.
Criminal justice branch spokesman Neil MacKenzie confirmed that three charges of first-degree murder were sworn in against Legebokoff on Monday at the Prince George provincial
Legebokoff elected to have his trial on first-degree murder charges in the case of Loren Leslies death heard by a jury in B.C. Supreme Court - a hearing is set for Oct. 31.
Appearance dates on the new charges were not yet known as of
Four linked by loss
The four victims all allegedly died at the hands of Cody Alan Legebokoff in a span of about 13 months from late 2009 to late 2010.
Doug Leslie was the only family member to speak publicly from among the large gathering who came to hear the suspect named in the killing of their loved one Monday. He was also the first to meet the accused.
He said he suspected all along the lines would eventually be drawn from his daughters alleged killer to other victims.
Today was absolutely unsettling, he said, shedding tears. There is nothing we can do to bring her back, but there is something we can do to slow the process [murdering vulnerable women] down.
The family of Cynthia Frances Maas also communicated with the public through a statement issued Monday afternoon.
Cindy had a right to live, to overcome her struggles, to become strong, and to be the mother she wanted to be, stated the Maas
The programs in Prince George available for struggling persons are what brought Cindy to Prince George for help. Cindy was a social victim of disability, ethnicity, class, gender as well as suffering the greatest indignity as a victim of murder. She is a poster child for vulnerability in our society.
Stuchenko was the first in the series to go missing, reportedly on Oct. 22, 2009. After a highly publicized search, her body was discovered discarded in a gravel pit off Otway Road.
Maas was reported missing on Sept. 23, 2010 and again, the search was highly publicized and extensive. It led police to a wooded area within L.C. Gunn Park where they discovered her body on Oct. 9, 2010.
Montgomery was originally from Quesnel but had resided in Prince George in recent times. She was reported missing the same day as Maas, but her body has not been
The trail of allegations against Legebokoff ended - and began - at a remote location off the Vanderhoof-Fort St. James highway when police pulled him over and detained him while they followed his vehicle tracks down a remote road to the site of Leslies body. It was Nov. 27, 2010.
The Maas family gave thanks to the RCMP investigation team who worked diligently and with great sensitivity to our families, and called on all levels of government to dedicated themselves to patching the holes in society through which vulnerable people fall.
Murders do not just harm families but our society is harmed as we forget and are numbed by senseless violence perpetrated against women portrayed as deserving of death, their
Our family acknowledges society does not intend to harm the disabled through lack of opportunity, or the Aboriginal through racism, or the female through classification and role distribution, but the harm is evident as women in Canada continue to struggle.
Official Highway of Tears cases have been ruled out of connection to Cody Alan Legebokoff, 21, but police are not ignoring the possibility that there may be other victims to learn of, and they are certainly in need of any information the public might have about the suspect and the victims. A toll free hotline has been set up especially for this case: 1-877-987-8477.
According to RCMP, Legebokoff was an avid user of social media and online dating and frequently used the online nickname
Mr. Legebokoff was not known to us, said RCMP Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick. He had minor police contact, if anything at all. He had friends in the community, he worked in the community, and there were a lot of surprises about this.
Legebokoff lived in Prince George in recent years but was born in Fort St. James and graduated from Fort St. James Secondary School.
The people of Fort St. James have been dealing with shock, confusion and disbelief since the word came out about Cody, said Nechako Lakes School District 91 superintendent Ray LeMoigne at the time of his initial arrest.
Cody has a loving family and caring parents, siblings and a large extended family in the region. In school he was well liked by his peers and was very good at sports. He played minor hockey at all levels and belonged to the downhill ski and snowboard team.
Police are expecting some of those informative calls to come from Alberta. Legebokoff lived in Lethbridge from June, 2008 until August, 2009. So far, no cases there have been linked to him.
Our investigation is not over. We do need the publics help, Fitzpatrick said. We believe there are others out there that may have been in contact with Legebokoff or these victims, and possess information that can assist in our
Legebokoff is described as a Caucasian male, six-foot-two tall, weighing approximately 220 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes.
His vehicle is described as a black 2004 GMC half-tonne pickup truck.