Airdrie man pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of common-law wife
Over a decade has passed since the discovery of an Airdrie woman’s body in an abandoned building near Exshaw and on Thursday her common-law husband pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a Calgary court.
Human remains were discovered by four men in a building near the Mount Yamnuska trail head on January 8, 2006 and DNA analysis determined that they were those of 40-year-old Ruth Degayo.
Degayo’s body was burned beyond recognition and a fire investigator determined that the fire was not accidental.
She was reported missing by her common-law husband, Duane Redelback, the same day her remains were discovered.
In an agreed statement of facts, Redelback said he had been out with a friend the night Degayo disappeared and that they had an argument a few days before.
Redelback eventually confessed to the murder during an undercover operation and said that he had intended to go out for beers when he and Degayo got into an argument.
He said that he wrapped his arm around her neck during the argument, causing her to lose consciousness, and that she became limp and fell to the floor.
Redelbeck said that he tied a piece of rope around her throat and put his hand over her mouth until she stopped breathing and he then put her in a garbage bag and inside a suitcase.
He said he put her in the trunk of his car and then went to meet a friend for a beer before driving to the disposal site.
He admitted to pouring gas on her body and lighting it on fire before fleeing the area and returning to Calgary.
Redelback was arrested and charged in September of 2015 with second-degree murder and indignity to a human body in connection to Degayo’s death.
On Thursday, the 48-year-old, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and the indignity to a human body charge was withdrawn.
Degayo’s sister, Riza Fornier, read an emotional victim impact statement in court and said their family will suffer for the rest of their lives.
She says Ruth left the Philippines for a better life and that she supported her six siblings.
Fornier says Degayo’s son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was her life.
“This day is a victorious day for us, for Ruth, and for Justin. Justin is the most who suffered and until now and until the end, he will suffer the loss of his mom. And I promised my sister that I will take care of Justin, the best that I could but I know I could not surpass the love and the care that she could give to Justin,” she said. “Today, I stand here, I’ve been coming back and forth to Canada. This is the best day ever here. Thank you so much for all of you support.”
The defence and Crown both asked for a sentence of 15 years with credit for time served.
“It was certainly on my mind at the beginning of the case, the way things were stacking up, that manslaughter was a possible outcome in the case. You know, there were some issues from the prosecution side, issues from our side, that could have led to a finding of guilty of murder, you know, there were maybe some openings, you know, in the case that could have gone another way so in the end, manslaughter is a pretty fair resolution I think,” said Defence attorney, Balfour Der.
The judge in the case agreed and sentenced him to 15 years with 27 months credit.