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Second-degree murder charge laid in historic Manitoba homicide


A Vancouver man has been charged in connection with a nearly 17-year-old homicide investigation into the death of a Manitoba woman.

RCMP say they arrested Kevin Charles Queau, 42, Saturday and charged him with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Crystal Shannon Saunders.

The charge has not been proven in court.

“While investigators worked tirelessly and brought the investigation to a successful conclusion, at the end of the day, this does not bring back Crystal,” said Superintendent Rob Lasson, the officer in charge of RCMP’s major crime services.

Saunders was last seen in the late evening hours of April 18, 2007, getting into a vehicle in Winnipeg’s West End, but her body was discovered the following day by an off-duty police officer in a shallow ditch near St. Ambroise, Man.

Saunders was 24 years old at the time of her death.

At a news conference Monday, Lasson declined to reveal details of how Saunders died, noting it is crucial to the case.

Lasson says the investigation was long-term and complex, spanning western Canada.

Kevin Queau has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Crystal Saunders in April 2007. Queau, who is in police custody, had his statutory release revoked after he was in prison for assaulting two women, according to a parole document (Image Source: Jon Hendricks/CTV News Winnipeg)

According to Mounties, DNA was found on Saunders’ remains and due to advancements in technology around 2014, the DNA got a hit on the National DNA Databank and linked to Queau.

Lasson says Queau’s DNA was obtained as a result of previous convictions of other offences from outside of Manitoba.

“With any case, we have to continually reassess and resubmit sometimes our DNA profiles until it meets a threshold that’s substantive enough for the lab to be confirmed to say it’s a match. That’s the first step, and sometimes that can take years.”

Police say its investigative team had a lead and through exhaustive efforts over the years, were able to gain the evidence needed to arrest and charge Queau.

He was in custody Monday at the Surrey RCMP detachment, and will be transported back to Winnipeg in the coming days.

Lasson added while RCMP have no evidence to suggest that Queau is a suspect in any other homicide, police will continue to examine any possible connections between him and any other unsolved criminal investigations.

When asked about any connection between Saunders and Queau, Lasson said the two were in contact the night before she was found dead.

Officers say Queau is originally from Winnipeg where he attended both secondary and post-secondary education, but frequented other areas across Canada including Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Lasson said at the time of his arrest, Queau was living and working in B.C.’s lower mainland.

RCMP ask anyone with additional information on this matter or other matters related to Queau to contact them.

“It has been a very long time for Crystal’s loved ones and her community to go without answers. Even though significant time has passed, I am pleased that we can provide you some answers,” Lasson said.

‘Crystal was a vulnerable person’

Police spoke about the legacy Saunders left behind, calling her a devoted mother, daughter and friend who needlessly lost her life to violent crime.

“Crystal also struggled. She was exploited and had issues with addictions,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Crystal was a vulnerable person, and someone took advantage of that. We now have that person in custody.”

In a news release, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization expressed gratitude to all those who dedicated themselves to finding answers for Saunders’ family.

“I send my condolences and prayers to all those who loved Crystal Shannon Saunders. I am especially thinking of her daughter today,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.

Still, Daniels notes while he is grateful to have answers in this case, there is still much more work that needs to be done to protect Indigenous women.

He once again called for the implementation of the 231 calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ final report.

“We must work towards creating a safer society for our women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse people. SCO mourns the loss of Crystal Saunders and we anticipate that her killer will face justice.” Top Stories

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