Years of investigating lead to murder charge

Man charged after three homicide investigations over 16 years

CALGARY — Police have charged a man after three homicide investigations over 16 years into the death of an amateur musician who was allegedly targeted for financial reasons.

Paul Hepher, a 50-year-old man who led a relatively quiet life, was found dead in the basement suite of a northwest Calgary home in March 2001. An autopsy later confirmed he had been shot.

Tests on evidence obtained in early 2014 confirmed a match to some forensic evidence left at the scene, but police couldn’t find a suspect they were seeking.

After 22 months of searching, a person was located in Sherwood Park near Edmonton, and the last of the three homicide probes was launched.

“In any investigation, there’s very little that works in favour of the police,” said Insp. Don Coleman of the Calgary Police Service major crimes unit.

“They’re very arduous, very intense and long investigations and there’s lots to do. In this case there were over a dozen suspects worked on, confirmed and eliminated, so it takes time.”

Terrance Lane Wardale, 61, was arrested and charged Thursday with second-degree murder. He made a brief court appearance via video Tuesday and the case was put over to May 4.

Police say Wardale and Hepher knew each other and described them as “acquaintances … loose associates.” Coleman said Wardale hadn’t previously been on the police radar.

“I believe he led a relatively low-profile, quiet life as well.”

Coleman said the charges bring some satisfaction for officers involved in the investigation the last 16 years.

“That satisfaction for investigators comes from being able to provide closure to the families. In this case, Mr. Hepher’s family, for 16 years, didn’t know what happened,” said Coleman.

“I believe investigators have spoken to the victim’s brother, who is the lone living relative, and he has taken a lot of comfort in the fact that his brother’s murder could be successfully concluded.”

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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