A man who tipped police to the remains of a long-time missing Winnipeg woman more than a year ago has now been accused of her killing.
Traigo Andretti, 38, was arrested late last week on a charge of second-degree murder for the September 2006 death of Myrna Letandre. The allegation has not been proven and he is presumed innocent.
Letandre was 37 when she vanished without a trace. Her name was added to the list of 28 missing and murdered Manitoba women being investigated by the "Project Devote" police task force beginning in 2009.
Police got a major break in the case in May 2013 after Andretti – a former Winnipeg resident – was arrested in British Columbia and accused of killing and dismembering his wife, Jennifer McPherson, on a remote west coast island.
While questioning Andretti about that homicide, B.C. investigators received information about the Letandre case which was quickly forwarded to their Manitoba colleagues.
That triggered an extensive search of a Lorne Avenue home in Point Douglas, where the remains of Letandre were discovered.
Last month, Andretti pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing McPherson. He was given an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
Project Devote investigators then moved in to complete their investigation of Letandre’s death. Andretti was formally arrested while in prison in B.C. but has now been transferred to Manitoba to deal with the charge. He will make his first court appearance later this week.
"These charges are the result of Project Devote's careful investigation of leads and gathering of evidence," Danny Smyth, Winnipeg Police Service Superintendent of Investigative Operations, said Monday. "While we are pleased to bring these charges before the courts, our thoughts go out to Ms. Letandre’s family members, who have suffered an overwhelming loss. We hope this will bring them some measure of justice."
Police say Andretti also goes by the name of Dylan Harold Grubb. Andretti had contact with Letandre while they were living in Winnipeg. One source described it as an informal relationship. RCMP previously stated they believe Letandre may have briefly lived at the same Lorne Avenue home, although they wouldn't disclose whether it was with Andretti.
Manitoba Grand Chief David Harper was at Monday’s news conference and applauded police for solving "one piece of the puzzle." But he noted a recent report shows there have been more than 1,100 missing and murdered women cases in Canada since 1980.
"This does send a message of hope," said Harper. "But we need to do a further fact finding mission." He repeated a previous call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women.
Andretti and McPherson previously lived at the Lorne Avenue home where Letandre was found before moving west more than five years ago. Family members of McPherson say she met Andretti through a dating website shortly before leaving Manitoba.
Andretti has a form of autism and has been a cause of concern for police and justice officials after he failed to take prescribed medication. He has a criminal history in Manitoba and B.C., including a violent attack against McPherson in 2008 that netted him probation. The judge ordered Andretti to stay on his medication as a condition of his probation "so he will not be a danger to others and himself."
Police discovered McPherson’s scattered human remains on a remote island near Alert Bay, off the east coast of Vancouver Island, last spring. The couple had been living on Hanson Island as caretakers of a remote fishing resort called the Pacific Outback Resort.
At his sentencing hearing last month, lawyers revealed Andretti was co-operative upon his initial arrest and even gave police a tour of the island to show them where he had disposed of the remains, including some he burned.
Letandre’s family members have previously expressed frustration at how long it was taking to make an arrest in their case.
"It's really hard and very frustrating. There really is no justice for missing and murdered women," Susan Caribou, a relative of Letandre's, said earlier this year. "It's not fair. There is no closure for our family."