Trial begins for man accused of killing Alberta couple who vanished on road trip

A trial has begun for an Alberta man charged in the deaths of two Edmonton-area seniors who disappeared nearly six years ago.

EDMONTON — A trial has begun for an Alberta man charged in the deaths of two Edmonton-area seniors who disappeared nearly six years ago.

Travis Vader, a longtime suspect in the case, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case of Lyle and Marie McCann.

The Crown says Vader, who is 44, was a crystal meth user and desperate for money when he killed the couple west of Edmonton in July 2010.

Prosecutor Jim Stewart told court in an opening statement that Vader’s blood, fingerprints and DNA were found in the couple’s abandoned SUV.

“We do know that they both met with significant violence and they are now dead,” Stewart said.

“The only reasonable inference… is that Mr. Vader murdered Lyle and Marie McCann.”

Vader’s lawyer, Brian Beresh, said in his opening address that experts will testify to problems with forensic evidence.

He said there’s no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the couple is dead and to say they were murdered is “speculation.”

Beresh also said police had “tunnel vision,” were under pressure to solve the case and failed to look at other suspects.

“The names of those suspects will be revealed at this trial,” Beresh said.

He says Vader became the RCMP’s “number 1 villian” and he has waited for years to clear his name.

“Authorities picked the wrong villian,” Beresh said.

The McCanns, both in their late 70s, were last seen fuelling up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert as they were heading out to meet family in British Columbia.

Mounties believe the seniors were murdered along the way, although their bodies have never been found.

The charges were initially stayed against Vader, but reactivated in late 2014.

Bret McCann says he plans to attend the month-long trial each day and hopes to finally find out what happened to his parents.