RCMP arrest Vancouver man for murder of Winnipeg woman 17 years ago

Kevin Queau, 42, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Crystal Shannon Saunders, whose body was found in 2007.

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WINNIPEG – Police said Monday that advances in DNA technology and an extensive investigation helped in the arrest of a Vancouver man for the murder of a Manitoba woman nearly 17 years ago.

Kevin Queau, a 42-year-old Vancouver man, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Crystal Shannon Saunders, whose body was found in 2007.

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“While investigators worked tirelessly and brought the investigation to a successful conclusion, at the end of the day this does not bring Crystal back,” the superintendent said. Rob Lasson of the RCMP’s major crime services said Monday. “Crystal was a mother. She was the daughter and friend of many who lost their lives unnecessarily due to violent crimes.”

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Saunders was 24 years old when she was last seen in Winnipeg on April 18, 2007. An off-duty police constable found her the next morning near St. Ambroise, about 80 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg, when she was checking her traps in the area.

Lasson described Saunders as well-liked and friendly. He also said she struggled and was exploited.

“Unfortunately, Crystal was a vulnerable person and someone took advantage of that,” Lasson said.

DNA from an unknown man was found on Saunders’ remains. But at the time it was considered “insufficient” to be included in the national DNA data bank, so the crime remained unsolved for years.

Lasson said police got a break in 2014, when advances in technology found a link to the DNA sample.

Queau had been convicted of previous crimes outside of Manitoba.

“We have to continually re-evaluate and resubmit our DNA profiles until they reach a threshold that is substantial enough that the lab can confirm that it’s a match… and sometimes that can take years,” Lasson said.

He added that the investigation was completed over the past 14 months after conversations with Manitoba prosecutors.

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RCMP media relations officer Corporal Julie Courchaine speaks to the media during a news conference announcing the arrest of Kevin Charles Queau for the 2007 murder of Crystal Saunders at Manitoba RCMP headquarters in Winnipeg, the Monday, January 29, 2024.
RCMP media relations officer Corporal Julie Courchaine speaks to the media during a news conference announcing the arrest of Kevin Charles Queau for the 2007 murder of Crystal Saunders at Manitoba RCMP headquarters in Winnipeg, the Monday, January 29, 2024. Photo by David Lipnowski /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Investigators had to resort to some “very complex investigative techniques” to gather evidence beyond the DNA sample, Lasson said. He did not elaborate on the techniques.

“That gave us the evidence to push ourselves over the edge and secure a charge,” he said.

Queau is originally from Winnipeg and went to school in Manitoba’s capital, but also spent time in Ontario and across Western Canada, RCMP said. He was arrested without incident in the Vancouver area over the weekend.

Police said there is no evidence to suggest he is a suspect in any other homicides, but they continue to examine any possible connection between Queau and other unsolved crimes.

Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine offered her strength to the Saunders family, who did not attend the RCMP news conference announcing the arrest.

“It will have a ripple effect in the community as well, as this will re-traumatize and re-activate missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit families, not just here in Manitoba, but certainly across the country,” Fontaine said. .

Anita Campbell, spokesperson for the Manitoba Metis Federation affiliate group Infinity Women Secretary, said the organization is preparing to offer support to the woman’s family. Previous reports suggested Saunders was from the Sagkeeng Anicinabe Nation, but police clarified Monday that her family identifies as Metis.

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“We still have a hard time identifying who some of these (missing and murdered) people are, because they are identified as indigenous and not nation-centered,” Campbell said. “What we’re trying to do is make sure there’s continued support afterwards, because this doesn’t stop now.”

Lasson said Saunders’ mother was overwhelmed with sadness and appreciation after investigators told her about the arrest.

“We sincerely hope that Kevin Queau’s arrest and the second-degree murder charge she now faces offers some comfort to those who knew and loved her,” he said.

“She has not been forgotten nor will she ever be.”


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