05/28/2012 03:29 EDT | Updated 07/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Family of disabled mom killed in blast relieved at arrest

The family of a disabled Alberta woman who was killed by an exploding package is relieved that a suspect has been arrested.

Vicky Shachtay, 23, died last November when a package sent to her home in Innisfail, north of Calgary, exploded.

Brian Malley, 55, made his first court appearance Monday in Red Deer.

He was arrested last week and charged with first-degree murder in Shachtay’s death. He was also charged with causing an explosion likely to cause harm or death and sending an explosive device to a person.

Victor Shachtay, the victim’s father, said news of an arrest in the case was huge relief for the family. “It was just like a large weight had been removed,” he said at a news conference in Innisfail on Monday.

Sarah Shachtay, who is now caring for her late sister’s seven-year-old daughter, said the girl is doing well under the circumstances.

“I’ve talked to her on a few occasions, I'm pretty sure she understands. It’s hard to tell ... kids deal with this type of stress differently,” she said.

RCMP Insp. Garrett Woolsey said over 70 investigators, including explosives experts from across the country, worked on the case.

“These officers put hundreds of hours poring over thousands of documents,” he said.

Woolsey said it was very satisfying for the homicide investigators to have laid charges, but that there is “still a long and involved court process still yet to come.”

Officials confirmed that Malley worked as police officer about 30 years ago at an unnamed municipality. But they emphasized that it had no bearing on the investigation.

Family members told CBC News Malley had been acting as a financial adviser for Shachtay, who was living off $625,000 that she received as part of a court settlement after a 2004 car accident. The accident had left her in a wheelchair.

CBC News has learned that Malley has a history of financial problems and declared bankruptcy in 1987. A federal insolvency record shows he owed nearly $86,000.

Malley’s total assets at the time were nearly $73,000. He was given an absolute discharge of his debts in 1988.

Malley appeared in Red Deer provincial court via closed-circuit television. His next court date was set for July 9.