Alberta RCMP announce charges in 47-year-old homicide of Metis teen

Genetic genealogy helped lay charges in a nearly 50-year-old murder.

The Alberta RCMP announced Wednesday they’ve charged a suspect in a nearly 50-year-old homicide.

Ronald James Edwards, 73, is facing a charge of non-capital murder (as it was known then) in connection with the death of Pauline Brazeau, a 16-year-old Métis girl.

RCMP said Brazeau was a single mother who moved to Calgary from Saskatchewan in the fall of 1975. She was last seen leaving Peppe’s Ristorante in downtown Calgary on Jan. 9, 1976.

“The search for Pauline’s killer has never ended over the past 47 years,” said Insp. Breanne Brown, the officer in charge of Alberta RCMP serious crimes branch, in a news release.

“Throughout the years we have always been hopeful that the person responsible would be held accountable.”

APTN News also contacted President Andrea Sandmaier of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government, formerly the Métis Nation of Alberta, about the charges.

“While the circumstances around Pauline Brazeau’s death are tragic, it is heartening to see that the person responsible has been charged. It is never too late for justice to be served. I hope this news brings her family some peace,” said Sandmaier.

RCMP credited recent advancements in DNA testing – called genetic genealogy – to identify distant relations and narrow down their suspect pool based on DNA profiles that people upload voluntarily to popular genealogy sites.

This technology has been used to solve famous cases like the Golden State Killer.

Read more:

Tracing a First Nations family tree helped catch a killer

In 2021, the Alberta RCMP historical homicide unit and Calgary Police Service cold case unit worked together to examine homicide investigations from the 1970s using genetic genealogy.

In 2022, RCMP said they sought the assistance of Othram Inc., a private lab in the United States. Calgary police worked with two genealogists from Convergence Investigative Genetic Genealogy to get a lead on a potential suspect.

Edwards was arrested on Nov. 7 in Sundre, Alta, a community 100 km northwest of Calgary.

He was charged with non-capital murder as it appeared in the Criminal Code in 1976. He remains in custody.

The Alberta RCMP would not confirm whether Edwards had a previous criminal record.

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