RCMP won't give up on 15 year murder
Crime: Mother, daughter found dead after fire in home
Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011 09:43 am
The deaths of Jane Johnson and her daughter Cathryn have long frustrated RCMP who have not been able to close the case despite an exhaustive investigation.
“I know the investigators would like nothing better than to be able to go to the families and say we’ve solved this, we have an arrest and a charge,” said RCMP spokesperson Patrick Webb.
Jane was 36 and Cathryn was eight years old when they were killed. Their remains were found by Turner Valley firefighters after extinguishing a house fire near the Turner Valley Golf Club on Sept. 3, 1996.
Initially, it was thought they died from smoke inhalation. Subsequent investigation revealed the pair had been murdered and the fire was set to cover up evidence.
RCMP have never released the cause of death.
While they have the big picture, he said investigators need a few critical pieces of information before than can lay charges.
“I always liken a murder investigation to a jigsaw puzzle, you have the big picture, you know what you’re looking for, but before you can make an arrest you have to fill in those blanks,” said Webb.
RCMP have collected physical evidence and interviewed witnesses and several friends and family as part of their investigations. Thousands of hours have been spent on the investigation, interviews have been completed and redone, police have followed up on hundreds of tips and they have put up “Information Wanted” posters.
A reward of $100,000 has also been offered for the arrest and conviction of the murderer.
However, they have not been able to uncover enough evidence to warrant laying charges.
Webb said police have identified people they believe may know details about the case that could help, but haven’t spoken out.
“To commit a murder, or to be part or to know about who committed a murder, there’s a lot of guilt, so we’re hoping that for reasons of relief from that guilt that these people will come forward.”
He said the investigation will continue as long as it takes.
“We’ve had arrests in murder investigations that are 20 years old,” he said. “So, in this case, 15 years is a long time, we definitely recognize that, but just because of the timeframe it isn’t parked.”
RCMP have identified a person of interest in the case, who is now believed to be living in the Parksville area of Vancouver Island. Police are not releasing the names any persons of interest.
Jane’s ex-husband said he is certain there are people who can give police the break they need to make an arrest in the case.
“I do feel there are people out there that could come forward and say what happened,” said Sam Johnson.
Soon after the murders, he volunteered to take a polygraph test to eliminate himself as a suspect.
“I demanded one, they didn’t even ask me,” said Johnson. “I demanded to take it because I wanted to make sure they didn’t waste one minute of their valuable time at the start of the case on me.”
Five years ago, the Western Wheel interviewed an ex-boyfriend regarding the case, Henry Reichert, who denied any involvement in the murder. Until that time, Reichert had not taken a polygraph test as part of the investigation. He told the Western Wheel five years ago he declined to take the test on the advice of his lawyer.
Reichert, who it is believes lives outside Okotoks, could not be reached for this article.
Johnson said it’s still difficult to think of the murders 15 years later. He will mark the anniversary by visiting their resting place, something he does each year.
“You don’t get over it easily,” he said.
Anyone with any information in this case can call local law enforcement or Turner Valley RCMP at 403-933-7227. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222 TIPS (8477).