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