A former Calgary man was escorted back to the city by police on Monday to answer to a second-degree murder charge in the death of a 21-year-old woman over 16 years ago.

Adrienne McColl’s body was found in a ditch alongside a rancher’s field near Nanton on February 17, 2002 and police have worked diligently since then to solve her murder.

Stephane Parent was in a relationship with McColl at the time of her death and was identified as a person of interest in the case early in the investigation.

Parent left Calgary for Ottawa after McColl’s murder and has resided in Ontario and Quebec ever since.

Police say advances in technology allowed them to gather additional information from the evidence they collected at the time of the murder and on Saturday, Parent was arrested by police in Quebec in connection to the case.

Parent, 49, was charged with second-degree murder and was escorted back to Calgary on Monday afternoon by police to face charges.

He told CTV reporter Brenna Rose that he was ‘innocent’ as he was led by police, in handcuffs and shackles, from a plane at Calgary International Airport.

Shandi Bard was Adrienne’s best friend and says the arrest comes with mixed emotions.

“I have so many mixed emotions right now but want to say thank you for the prayers and positive energy we have received over the years and to the Major Crimes Unit for not giving up on Adrienne. It is a long road ahead but we know justice will be served. Adrienne was my best friend and is a beautiful person who is missed deeply by so many people,” she wrote in a statement.

Parent met with a Justice of the Peace on Tuesday and his next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, March 20.