PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE — A young Manitoba man with no history of criminal convictions was brought to court in handcuffs this morning to face the most serious charge in Canadian criminal law in connection with the homicide of an elderly man in a sleepy rural town.
Jason Conway, 21, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Niels "Arne" Nielsen, 96, in the town of MacGregor on May 24.
He did not personally appear in front of Judge Brian Corrin despite being transported by sheriffs officers from remand custody to the Portage la Prairie courthouse. His case was remanded to June 23 without any further discussion. He remains in custody and has not yet applied for bail.
RCMP announced Sunday evening that Conway was a suspect in the death of Nielsen, who was killed at his tiny home on Talbot Avenue East.
Conway was also from MacGregor, but people in the tight-knit town say they don't believe he'd lived there long and was anything but a familiar face to them.
RCMP have said little about their investigation, and have not revealed how Nielsen died.
The first-degree murder allegation Conway faces suggests police believe either the killing was planned and premeditated or Nielsen was being illegally confined in some way when he died.
Conway faces the potential of a life sentence without a chance at parole for a minimum of 25 years if convicted. He's presumed innocent.
Nielsen, a devout Jehovah's Witness, was known to spend a lot of time in his yard, and loved tending to his garden.
He came to live in MacGregor in 2006 after spending a few years in British Columbia. He had also lived in Carberry and the small community of Sidney.
In announcing Conway's arrest, RCMP said they were continuing to investigate. They're asking anyone with information to call the Portage la Prairie RCMP at 204-857-4445 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.