A man has been charged with first-degree murder, the murder of a woman found strangled to death in her northeast Edmonton apartment more than 26 years ago.
Edmonton police have charged Brayan Boucher, 48, with the December 1996 murder of 24-year-old Joanne Ghostkeeper.
In a statement Thursday, police said a re-examination of DNA evidence last year led to an indictment in the landmark murder — a development investigators hope will shut down Ghostkeeper’s family.
Ghostkeeper was found dead on December 25, 1996, in her apartment at 119th Avenue and 34th Street in the Abbottsfield neighborhood.
The Cree mother of two from Sucker Creek First Nation, near Lesser Slave Lake, Alta, had been strangled with a telephone cord.
The police had been called after she failed to show up for Christmas dinner at her mother’s house.
Ghostkeeper’s death was ruled a homicide shortly after her body was found, but no charges have been filed so far.
The case has been under investigation for years by the historical homicide unit of the Edmonton Police Department. Over the decades, Ghostkeeper’s family has pleaded for information about her killer.
In Thursday’s statement, police said numerous exhibits have been forensically tested over the years, but no confirmed match could be made to a suspect.
However, on Oct. 22, 2022, the RCMP’s forensic lab re-examined the exhibits and a male DNA profile was generated, police said.
The DNA profile was matched to Boucher and he was arrested on June 14.
Police said Ghostkeeper and Boucher, who was 22 at the time of the murder, knew each other.
“Our thoughts go out to Joanne’s family and friends. This was a tragic case that has plagued them with grief and unanswered questions for 27 years,” said Det. Kevin Harrison of the EPS historical crimes section, said in a statement.
“Thanks to the tenacity of the RCMP lab forensic specialists and the EPS investigation team, we’ve finally been able to provide some answers to those questions, and hopefully some measure of closure for her loved ones.”
Boucher’s DNA profile is now in the National DNA Data Bank and will be compared to other historical forensic files, police said.