Moun­ties had to wait nearly 20 years for chance to solve Al­berta mur­der

Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL -

CAL­GARY (CP) — For more than 15 years, Al­berta RCMP of­fi­cers gath­ered ev­ery fact they could about their lone sus­pect in the mur­der of Gor­don Mills.

Then they waited for the right mo­ment.

They in­ter­viewed those close to Michael Des­marais, in­clud­ing his ex-wife. They put to­gether a psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­file of him.

Des­marais was al­ready serv­ing time for rob­bing and gun­ning down an el­derly man at a rest stop in North Dakota in 1992.

Of­fi­cers metic­u­lously stud­ied the path that led to that crime.

In 2007, they vis­ited Des­marais in prison where a three-mem­ber team got the con­fes­sion that solved their case.

Des­marais, now 52, pleaded guilty to Mills’ mur­der in a Leth­bridge, Alta., court­room last week.

It took a while, but the Moun­ties fi­nally got their man.

“It’s a great re­lief to all in­ves­ti­ga­tors to be able to speak for the vic­tim and also to bring clo­sure to the vic­tim’s fam­ily,” lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Sgt. Mur­ray Bart­ley said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day.

Des­marais met Mills at a road­side stop near the Crowsnest Pass, near Al­berta’s bound­ary with Bri­tish Columbia, in early July 1992.

Mills had been plan­ning to sight­see through the Rocky Moun­tains when he left his Ed­mon­ton home on July 10. He was last seen at a ser­vice sta­tion in Banff, Alta.

Court heard Des­marais had stolen a car and two guns in Chilli­wack, B.C., be­fore head­ing east and cross­ing paths with Mills.

He used one of those guns to take Mills’ truck, cash and credit cards be­fore shoot­ing him in the back and hid­ing his body in the for­est.

Des­marais then fled through Saskatchewan and en­tered the United States il­le­gally.

Of­fi­cers might never have learned those de­tails had it not been for William Menz, who was robbed and shot in North Dakota on July 14.

Des­marais was ar­rested by po­lice just over a month later, driv­ing Mills’ car.

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