Man arrested in murder that took place in Calgary 16 years ago
Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:51AM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 18, 2017 6:54PM MDT
A Calgary man has been arrested and charged in connection with the murder of a man inside a northwest home in 2001.
Police were called to a home in the 500 block of 19 Avenue N.W. on March 4, 2001 for a disturbance.
A man’s body was found in the basement suite.
An autopsy confirmed the victim as 50-year-old Paul Hepher, who had been shot to death.
Hepher, an amateur musician with no criminal history, was last seen alive on February 28, 2001.
An investigation of his home found a number of pieces of evidence, but no suspects were identified at the time of his death.
Since that time, police say they conducted three separate homicide operations in the hopes of tracking down a suspect.
During one of those operations, evidence was recovered and sent for analysis.
Inspector Don Coleman with the CPS Major Crimes Unit says DNA evidence led to the break they needed in the case.
"DNA is not a new technology, but it was DNA-related. There was a large suspect list of more than a dozen people over the course of the 16 years. It took time to confirm or eliminate those suspects. Ultimately, in this case, DNA played a role."
On May 21, 2014 forensic investigators confirmed a match to some of the evidence from the Hepher murder scene that ended up leading them to a suspect.
Terrance Lee Wardale, 61, was identified by police but, unfortunately, he could not be found.
After 22 months of searching, authorities found Wardale in Sherwood Park. A search of his home resulted in the seizure of additional evidence linking him to the murder.
Wardale has now been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Hepher.
Investigators believe that the pair was known to one another and Hepher was targeted for financial reasons.
Coleman said that the case took so long to solve primarily because of evidence.
"There are several reasons that an investigation can take a long time and the majority of it is evidence-based. Lack of witness information, lack of physical evidence makes for lots of challenges in a criminal investigation. In any investigation, there is very little that works in favour of the police. They are very ardous, intense and long investigations."
Coleman said that police have also recovered the murder weapon, a handgun, used in the crime.
Police have spoken with Hepher's brother, his lone living relative.
"He has taken a lot of comfort that his brother's murder could be successfully concluded," Coleman said.
Wardale will appear in court on Tuesday.