A 24-year-old Red Deer man has been charged with second-degree murder and committing indignities to a body in connection with the death of a woman whose remains were disposed of in a recycling dumpster earlier this year.
Police have been exhaustively searching for a suspect since the remains of 27-year-old Talia Nellie Meguinis, of Calgary, were discovered on Feb. 22 as a truck was emptying its load at a recycling facility in Red Deer’s Riverside Industrial Park.
In a press conference on Monday, Red Deer City RCMP Insp. Lawrence Aimoe revealed that Nathan Desharnais of Red Deer was arrested on Friday in Calgary by members of the local detachment, with assistance from Calgary Police Service.
Desharnais, who had been working prior to Feb. 20 but has since been unemployed, was transported back to Red Deer, where he was charged with Meguinis’s death.
“This is certainly good news for Talia’s family and for the community of Red Deer,” said Aimoe, who credited investigators for their dedication and hard work to bring the grieving family some resolution.
Meguinis’s mother, Sally Simeon of Calgary, read a statement expressing relief that a suspect has been charged.
“When the police told us Talia had been murdered, we could not believe the news,” said Simeon, her voice breaking with emotion. “Every day since then, we have prayed that whoever killed her will be caught. . . . Our hope is that he will be brought to justice. . . .
“Today we are also forced to think about how Talia died. This is very hard for us,” said Simeon, who described the last seven months as a sad and difficult time. “We loved Talia very much, and every day we miss her more.”
The murder victim was described as a devoted and loving mother who was funny, beautiful and generous to a fault. Police previously stated she was not leading a high-risk lifestyle, wasn’t homeless, nor was she previously known to police.
“She had a very trusting nature who couldn’t believe bad in others,” said Simeon. The family declined to provide more information about Meguinis’s children or who is now looking after them.
Investigating officer Const. Gary Kroeker said the charges result from a complex and extensive seven-month investigation that took about 25,000 police hours, or the equivalent of 12 RCMP officers working for an entire year on the one file.
The investigation involved several Red Deer RCMP units, as well as forensic and police dog services, K Division’s special tactical operations, polygraph sections in Calgary and Edmonton, and the Calgary and Tsuu T’ina Police Service.
Part of the case’s complexity resulted from where the victim’s remains were found, said Cpl. Ben Scott of the Red Deer City RCMP major crimes unit. “It was a recycling sorting facility. There were a lot of things to go through, so we had to put more resources into finding evidence and doing the best job that we can.”
While police couldn’t release details of the investigation, including the cause of death, before the case is heard in court, they did say that Desharnais was briefly known to the victim. The two met each other on the weekend before her body was found. “We believe they had just met,” said Aimoe.
According to police, Meguinis had stopped in Red Deer for three or four days to visit relatives on her way back to Calgary from Northern Alberta. She never made it home.
Desharnais remains in police custody and is expected to make his first appearance in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday.