EDMONTON — The sister of a man RCMP have questioned about the disappearance of an Alberta couple says he showed up at her Edmonton home “tired and sick” the day after Lyle and Marie McCann vanished.
Bobbi-Jo Vader, who came to court Tuesday to see her brother face three charges unrelated to the disappearance, said the family had fallen out of touch with Travis.
But on July 4, she said, he drove up to the home she shares with her foster mother, Esther Rose McKay-Crosswell, looking for sanctuary.
“He was tired and he was sick and he needed to rest,” the sister said. “Travis has been running from the police for a while.”
Vader, 38, was wanted on more than a dozen warrants issued in several northern Alberta communities. They include property and weapons offences, breaches of bail conditions and arson.
“He’d been running around in the bush,” said Bobbi-Jo. “He just said he needed to eat and sleep.”
Travis stayed with the women until July 9, she said. Although he drove up in a vehicle, Bobbi-Jo said it wasn’t an SUV.
The McCanns, both in their 70s, were towing a Hyundai Tucson SUV behind their motor home when they disappeared. They were last seen July 3 when they gassed up their RV in their home town of St. Albert, just north of Edmonton, before heading toward British Columbia for a family camping trip.
The motor home was found two days later, burning in dense bush near Edson, 200 kilometres west of Edmonton — minus the SUV. It was found July 16 off a bush trail, about 30 kilometres east of Edson, near Carrot Creek, Alta.
Police arrested Travis Vader at an isolated residence east of Edson early on the morning of July 19. The RCMP have said he remains a “person of interest” in the McCann case and they believe he has information on what happened to the couple, although none of the charges he faces is related to their disappearance.
Bobbi-Jo said she doesn’t believe her brother has had anything to do with that case.
“If you knew Travis as a person, you would know he would never harm or do anything to any innocent person,” she said.
“Travis is not like that whatsoever. I believe in my heart that he had nothing to do with the missing couple.”
McKay-Crosswell said Travis still looked drained in court Tuesday.
“He just looked tired and sick, basically,” she said.
“He just needs a break from all this stuff and maybe he’ll get it here (in custody). It’s better than running around God only knows where.”
Bobbi-Jo said her brother has been unfairly maligned by both police and local residents.
“There’s a lot of people who might have said a lot of things in that area, but all those people have always sat with Travis, everyone’s partied with Travis, everyone’s done everything with Travis, and Travis did everything for everyone he could and now that he’s down in the dumps — that’s when people like to sit there and bash people,” she said.
“The police have been wanting to get him for a long time. I believe that putting him out there on the front page and saying that he’s a person of interest was a great way for them to get him.”
She blamed her brother’s problems on methamphetamine use.
“Two years ago, he had everything. Now he has nothing and he’s sitting in jail.
“I just hope that one day he gets his life straightened out.”
In court Tuesday, Vader appeared on two charges related to failure to live by bail conditions and one on failing to appear for a court date. He was held in custody until Aug. 10, at which time bail is to be addressed.