Decades-old woman’s murder case found in Ontario. River delayed over concerns defendant unfit for trial

After weeks of delays, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has yet to determine whether the man accused of Killing an American woman and dumping her body in a river in Ontario. For almost 50 years he has been in a position to be tried.

Last year, Rodney Nichols was extradited from the United States to Canada after being charged with the 1975 murder of 48-year-old Jewell Parchman Langford.

Lawyers for Nichols, now 80, have said he suffers from dementia and requires an evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial for Langford’s murder.

Court documents reviewed by CTV News Toronto shows that the evaluation has been extended twice due to a lack of available forensic neuropsychologists in Whitby, Ontario. mental health facility where Nichols is currently detained.

Documents filed show Nichols was first ordered to undergo an evaluation earlier in the year and, on Jan. 18, was transferred to the Ontario Shores Center for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby.

The initial evaluation report, dated Feb. 9, was inconclusive, according to the documents. Nichols was then ordered to undergo additional evaluation over a period of 30 or 60 days. However, according to the Penal Code, the total time of an original assessment order and an extension must not exceed 60 days.

The case returned to court on February 13, when Holowka granted another extension until March 17. But before he could return, a second report, received by the court on February 29, cited a lack of available forensic neuropsychologists for the delays. and he requested another extension, until mid-April.

In his latest decision, Judge Brian Holowka wrote that while a second evaluation order would constitute an “imperfect process,” he ultimately found it to be a “responsive” approach to the defendant’s needs and granted another extension.

‘The Lady of the River Nation’

For more than 40 years, Langford’s destiny remained a mystery.

Langford, born Jewell Parchman, was a prominent member of the Jackson, Tennessee, business community at the time of her death, according to investigators.

In April 1975, Langford traveled from the United States to Montreal. Shortly after her, her family said they lost contact with her and, when she did not return as expected, they reported her missing.

Lalla Jewell Parchman Langford is seen in this undated photograph. (OPP)

His disappearance coincided with the discovery of a woman’s body floating in the Nation River near the Highway 417 bridgesouth of Casselman, Ontario, about 50 kilometers east of Ottawa.

Over the next 47 years, a series of efforts made by the police Attempts to identify the woman and possible suspects were unsuccessful. They included renderings by forensic artists, a 3D facial reconstruction, a dedicated information line and descriptions of evidence accompanied by several public appeals for information from the police.

Forty-seven years later, after a sample of the remains was shared with the US-based organization Doe DNA Project, Langford was identified. Until then, the unidentified remains had been named “Nation River Lady.”

Langford’s remains were repatriated to the United States in March 2022, followed by a memorial service and burial.

With files from CTVNews.ca.

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