A 21-year-old man who was already charged in the slaying of a 15-year-old girl has now been charged in the deaths of three women, say RCMP in Prince George, B.C.
Cody Legebokoff was charged in late 2010 with first-degree murder in the death of Loren Donn Leslie, 15, whose body was found on a remote logging road just off Highway 27 near Vanderhoof, B.C., last November.
On Monday, police announced Legebokoff is now facing three new counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jill Stacey Stuchenko, Cynthia Frances Maas and Natasha Lynn Montgomery following a 10-month investigation.
Legebokoff is being held at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.
At a news conference in Prince George, attended by members of the media and representatives from local First Nations communities, police said they believe Legebokoff acted alone.
Police said the investigation was "far from over," as investigators are looking for witnesses and additional victims.
It's believed Legebokoff used the internet and social media websites to meet women, frequently using the online name 1CountryBoy, and he lived in Lethbridge, Alta., from June 2008 to 2009, said police.
Deaths date back to 2009
Stuchenko, 35, was found dead in a gravel pit off Otway Road, on the outskirts of Prince George, in 2009.
Montgomery, 23, originally from Quesnel, was reported missing in August 2010. Her body has not been found, but police say they are working hard to locate her remains.
Maas, 35, went missing in September 2010. Her remains were found in L.C. Gunn Park, in a remote area of Prince George, the following month.
In a written statement released on Monday, Maas's family described her as a "poster child for vulnerability in our society."
"We are concerned about all the other unsolved missing and murdered women," the statement read. "Murders do not just harm families but our society is harmed as we forget and are numbed by senseless violence perpetrated against women portrayed as deserving of death."
In September, the B.C. Missing Women Inquiry held a series of forums in northern B.C. to hear from the families of missing and murdered women in the area. At least 18 young women have been murdered or gone missing on a 700-kilometre stretch of Highway 16, the so-called Highway of Tears, between Prince George and Prince Rupert. None of the cases have been solved.
Leslie's body was found just off Highway 27 in November 2010.
Police have not revealed how Leslie died, but her remains were sent to the United States for investigation by a specialist.
Leslie, who was visually impaired, was a Grade 10 student at Nechako Valley Secondary School in Vanderhoof.
Earlier this year, police interrogated more than 140 Prince George taxi drivers in connection with the deaths of Maas and Stuchenko.
The manager of P.G. Taxi told CBC News at the time that all of his drivers had been interviewed by police and asked for DNA samples as part of an investigation into several murders.
Difficult time for families
In a written release, RCMP Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick said the victims' families have been notified.
"It was evident by our meeting ... these women were all very vibrant, talented and loving. They were all mothers, daughters, and aunts and possess large extended families who miss them tremendously. The families request privacy at this very sad time," said Fitzpatrick.
"We also respect news of this development and the charges will be met with mixed emotions by the community. These are difficult and complex investigations that require a dedicated team of resources. This group and particularly the RCMP remain committed to ensuring justice is delivered."
Fitzpatrick said police are limited in the amount of information they can release, but he confirmed police executed two search warrants at Legebokoff's home during the course of the investigation.
"It was a combination of many factors, along with a dedicated team of investigators that has brought us to the point where these additional three charges can be laid," Fitzpatrick said.
Anyone with any information is asked to call a special tip line that has been established for the case at 1-877-987-8477.