RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori speaks to gathered reporters at a press conference in Calgary on Saturday

RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori speaks to gathered reporters at a press conference in Calgary on Saturday

Son, friend arrested in murder of Castor family

Relatives and friends of a family murdered in a Castor-area farm house in December 2013 have been left reeling after RCMP revealed that one of the two men charged in the deaths is the son of two of the victims and brother to the third.

Relatives and friends of a family murdered in a Castor-area farm house in December 2013 have been left reeling after RCMP revealed that one of the two men charged in the deaths is the son of two of the victims and brother to the third.

Jason Klaus, 38, was charged on Friday, Aug. 15, with three counts of first degree murder and one count of arson in the Dec. 8 deaths of his parents, Gordon, 61, Sandra, 62 and his sister Monica, 40.

Also facing the same charges is Klaus’ “friend and associate,” Joshua Frank, 29. In addition to the four charges, Frank also faces a charge of injuring or endangering an animal for shooting and killing the family’s dog, Keela, which was found outside the burning building.

RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori held a press conference in Calgary on Sat., Aug. 16 to announce the charges, and though he didn’t disclose much, the details he did reveal indicated the family was targeted by the two accused, and that the murders and fire were planned in advance.

The nine-month investigation was kept going, in part, due to the plethora of tips that came in from the surrounding community, Hamori indicated as he took a moment to thank the public for their support.

Though the police have remained silent since a February appeal for people to come forward with information, Hamori revealed that the surviving member of the Klaus family and Frank both ended up on the investigators’ radar fairly early into the investigation.

“The investigative process led us to them,” Hamori said. “Both of them surfaced quite early in the investigation. Jason Klaus was deemed to be a suspect quite early in the investigation. Joshua Frank became a suspect a little bit later on in the timeline.”

Hamori said there was no reason for police to believe that organized crime was involved in the arson and murders, and noted that Frank had no past criminal record. He was unable to say if Klaus had a previous record as he did not have the information available.

“We are confident we have the two people who are responsible for this crime, and we’re not looking for any other suspects,” Hamori said. As for Klaus and Frank, Hamori said that, “All I’m prepared to say at this time is that they’re friends and associates, and that they’ve known each other for a while.”

On July 26-27, a dive team from B.C. came in at the RCMP’s request and searched the Red Deer River near Big Knife Provincial Park in search of evidence. The dive team scanned the area for two days before successfully recovering a “key” piece of evidence, though Hamori could not reveal what police divers found on the river bottom.

“I would say it’s very significant,” Hamori conceded. “It was a key piece of evidence in the crime.”

The news has been especially difficult for the grandparents of Klaus, who lost their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in the fire, according to a friend close to the family. Lowell and Janette Berry, from Halkirk, declined to make a comment at this time, as did family of Joshua Frank.

Klaus was arrested at the Stettler residence of his deceased sister, Monica, in the afternoon, police said. She lived in one of Stettler’s trailer parks. Frank was arrested at his brother’s Castor residence, Hamori said, later that day.

Though police have previously stated it was believed Sandra’s body had been lost in the fire and that she was, too, a victim of homicide, Hamori’s words eliminated hope that she would be found alive.

“(Sandra’s) remains were never found,” Hamori confirmed. “It’s our belief that her remains were consumed in the fire. The fire was quite intense at the time it happened.”

The farmhouse where the fire was set had a quantity of coal in the basement, as the home was heated by a coal furnace. The fire burned extremely hot, hot enough to cremate a body.

It also made it difficult for fire crews and police to access the ruined building after the fire was extinguished, because it remained hot and unstable for several days. The water used to put out the fire later led to a thick layer of ice being present on much of the crime scene.

Both Klaus and Frank are scheduled to appear in the provincial court in Red Deer on Monday, Aug. 18.

“In that fire, three victims lost their lives,” Hamori said. “On behalf of the RCMP, myself and the investigative team, we express our condolences to the extended family and friends of the victims in this fire.”

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

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read