RCMP arrest suspect in 2007 killing of Crystal Saunders

Manitoba RCMP credit DNA for arrest in historical homicide of Crystal Saunders of Winnipeg

Manitoba RCMP say they a former Winnipeg man in custody in connection with the 2007 historical homicide of Crystal Saunders of Winnipeg. Photo: APTN file

Manitoba RCMP say a male suspect in British Columbia has been charged in connection with the cold case killing of 24-year-old Crystal Saunders of Winnipeg.

Kevin Charles Queau, 42, was arrested in Vancouver on Jan. 27 and is being held in custody in Surrey until he can be transported to Winnipeg, said Supt. Rob Lasson of major crime services.

Queau, originally from Winnipeg, is charged with second-degree murder.

“It has been a very long time for Crystal’s loved ones and her community to go without answers,” Lasson said at a news conference in Winnipeg Monday. “Even though significant time has passed, I am pleased that we can now provide you some answers.

“She is not being forgotten, nor will she ever be.”

Read the RCMP news release on the arrest here

In a post on Facebook, Saunders’ mother Sandra Saunders called the arrest “wonderful news that I never ever thought I would hear in my life.”

She said it helped lift the load of pain she was carrying.

“It took 17 years to hear this,” she wrote. “Oh my God you just don’t know how I feel.”

Crystal, a mother of one, was last seen getting into a vehicle at the northeast corner of Sargent Avenue and Sherbrook Street in the West End on April 18, 2007. Her body was found in a ditch near St. Ambroise outside Winnipeg a day later.

The RCMP have never said how Crystal was killed and declined to answer that question when asked at the news conference.

However, Lasson did say work by Project Devote, a Manitoba RCMP task force into missing and murdered exploited persons, and advances in DNA technology aided in the arrest.

“In December 2014, investigators were contacted by the National DNA Database and were notified of a DNA hit in relation to this investigation and the unknown DNA located on Crystal’s remains,” Lasson said.

“The unknown male contributor of this DNA was identified as Kevin Charles Queau. Queau’s DNA was obtained as a result of previous convictions of other offences outside of Manitoba.”

Queau attended high school and post-secondary school in Winnipeg, Lasson said, and frequented areas in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. While there is no evidence he is a suspect in any other homicides, Lasson said they continue to investigate.

Read more: Police looking for new information in Crystal Saunders case

Lasson also declined to say what Queau did for a living.

“We will be in further contact with other RCMP divisions and police agencies across Canada in order to determine if there are any additional linkages or connections to other unsolved crimes,” he told reporters.

“Our heartfelt condolences to Crystal’s loved ones, and we hope this arrest can bring you some solace in your tragic loss of Crystal.”

Crystal has previously been identified as a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, an Anishinabe community north of Winnipeg. At the news conference, the RCMP clarified she lived in Winnipeg and was Métis.

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