Over a week has passed since RCMP announced that a Fort St. James accused killer has been charged with the murder of three additional women.
Local communities remain in a state of shock and disbelief at the latest police revelations that allege 21-year-old Cody Alan Legbokoff killed three women and one teenager within a year, dumping their bodies in rural locations.
He was charged with first-degree murder last year in connection with the death of 15-year-old NVSS student Loren Donn Leslie.
The three new murder charges relate to the unsolved Prince George murder cases of Jill Stacey Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Frances Maas, 35 and Natasha Lynn Montgomery, 23.
Stuchenko was reported missing to police on October 22, 2009. Her body was found four days later in a gravel pit on the outskirts of Prince George.
Maas was reported missing by her friends on September 23, 2010. The remains of her body were found on October 9, 2010, in LC Gunn Park, in a remote area of Prince George.
Montgomery was reported missing on the same day as Maas. She was originally from Quesnel but had been living in the Prince George area when her friends contacted the RCMP. Her body has yet to be recovered but an investigation resulted in a murder charge in relation to her disappearance.
RCMP from E Division Major Crime Section made the announcement at a press conference in Prince George on October 17 following a 10-month investigation.
RCMP arrested Legebokoff on October 14 at the Prince George Regional Correctional Center where he was awaiting his supreme court trial for his charge of Leslie’s murder.
Legebokoff has been described as a “normal guy” by friends and school administrators, all who are struggling to come to terms with his latest alleged title of serial killer.
One of his close friends who he grew up with says he is still in shock over the recent allegations against his childhood friend.
“No matter who you ask about this they’re probably all going to say the same thing – he was a normal guy and everyone is very shocked that he may have been able to do this,” said a friend over the weekend who did not want to be named.
“We were all shocked about the news of the first girl, and even more shocked that it could be three more women,” the friend said.
Legebokoff was born and raised in Fort St. James but moved to Prince George after he graduated from high school. RCMP say that he also lived in Lethbridge, Alberta, between June 2008 and August 2009.
He attended schools in Fort St. James from kindergarten right through Grade 12, graduating in 2008 from Fort St. James Secondary School.
Ray Lemoigne, Superintendent of School District 91 told the Express after Legebokoff’s initial arrest last year, that he has loving and caring parents and siblings and is a member of a rather large extended prominent family in the community of Fort St. James.
He described him as an average student after looking over his school transcripts.
“In school Cody was very well liked by his peers, he played minor hockey at all levels as a defenceman,” he said.
“He also was a member of the school downhill ski team and snowboard team and enjoyed that.”
Lemoigne added that his vice principal at school described him as a “respectful” student in his dealings with him.
Another friend who grew up in Fort St. James with Legebokoff and also socialized in the same circles with him in Prince George says he was working as a car mechanic in Prince George at the time of his initial arrest and had been living in a house with three of his close female friends.
They added that although Legebokoff had never shown any signs of aggression, he did go missing for a number of weeks before his initial arrest for murder.
“He went missing for a few weeks before the murder, like right before, and he didn’t tell anyone where he went, he just disappeared,” said the friend who did not want to be named.
“So that’s questionable,” the friend added.
The friend said he never showed any signs of being capable of hurting anyone.
“He was very sociable and kind-hearted … didn’t hurt others.”
****Chance RCMP encounter leads to initial arrest ****
Legebokoff was initially arrested in November last year after his vehicle was stopped on Highway 27, just 22 kilometres north of Vanderhoof.
A member of the Fort St. James RCMP detachment had noticed the truck while traveling south on the highway. The truck was pulling out onto the highway from an older unused logging road, and given the time and location, the police officer deemed it as suspicious and pulled the vehicle over.
He was detained following his identification, a conversation, and the officer’s observations. The officer then contacted an area conservation officer, Cam Hill, to conduct a thorough search of the area. Just before midnight Hill located the body of Leslie just half a kilometre up the logging road from which the truck had emerged.
RCMP say that he had no previous criminal record and so was not on their radar at all prior to his arrest last November.
According to another friend of the accused who does not want to be named, Legebokoff and Leslie definitely knew each other before the incident.
“They did know each other before … Cody and her partied together … and were friends by association,” the friend said.
Although the nature of the relationship between Legebokoff and Leslie is still unknown, the friend said he was in a relationship with someone else at the time of his initial arrest.
“He was in a relationship with a girl that goes to CNC [College of New Caledonia], but it was not long-term as I am aware of,” the friend said.
They added that there was no reason to believe that Legebokoff and Leslie were more than just friends…
“They just knew each other through the circles they partied through and that was it,” said the friend.
RCMP have revealed that Legebokoff was a heavy social network user.
“Our investigation indicates he extensively utilized social media and on-line dating to correspond with friends, associates, potential girlfriends and others,” said Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick at the press conference on October 17.
“He frequently used the on-line name of 1CountryBoy,” he added.
Loren Leslie’s father, Doug Leslie said that during a briefing from the RCMP to the victims families on October 16, they mentioned he used Facebook and dating site Plenty of Fish avidly and that the investigation into his social networking continues.
****Forensic connections link murders to single suspect****
An empty casket is carried down the isle of the Stellako Hall in Fraser Lake. The song ‘Hey Soul Sister” plays in the background.
This is the scene of the funeral of Loren Donn Leslie held last December.
The service began with an announcement from her father Doug Leslie that the casket was empty.
“She had to be taken to Pennsylvania for further investigation,” he said.
“Holy smokes, it’s unbelievable.”
“But we will be going along as if she’s here with us,” he added.
At the time it was unclear why her body had to be taken so far away for more detailed forensic testing.
“It is very, very rare that they would ever send anyone out of the country,” Doug Leslie told the Express on Friday.
“But in this case there was two sent out to Pennsylvania – Loren and Cynthia Maas,” he said.
He added that RCMP described an “instrument” used in the murders and that forensics specialists in America took bone imprints from the two girls to ensure it was the same instrument that was used on both of them.
“The police said there was an instrument used on more than one of them,” he said.
He said that other connections between the murders were made from DNA found in Legebokoff’s truck.
“Even with Natasha Montgomery – they still haven’t found her body yet but they connected that with DNA,” said Leslie.
He added that he wasn’t too surprised by the announcement of three new murder charges.
“I wasn’t terribly surprised but I was happy about it because it means that Loren’s murder was a catalyst for these other investigations,” said Leslie.
“It seemed that the RCMP really couldn’t connect the dots until Loren was found.
“If this guy is convicted he is going to go away for a long time … he may be young but age is just a number … he’s an animal,” Leslie added.
****Accused murderer fires lawyer****
Legebokoff will be appearing in court next on the three additional murder charges on November 2 in Prince George. His next scheduled appearance for the murder of Loren Leslie is on October 31.
Doug Leslie says he thinks Legebokoff will be tried for all four murder counts at the same time.
Initially a preliminary hearing was set to take place over a period of two weeks in Vanderhoof in January 2012.
However, Legebokoff appeared in court in Prince George on September 14 where it was decided that his trial would go straight to Supreme Court in front of a judge and jury.
“He fired his lawyer so that’s why Loren’s case went to direct indictment,” said Doug Leslie.
“But now it’s all going to be delayed … there’s about 50,000 pieces of information that they have to go over with the Crown and until then they can’t set a trial date for any of the charges.
“They [RCMP] figure one to two years before they can even set a date for the trial,” Leslie added.
RCMP say the investigation is ongoing.
“We are asking anyone with any information, in particular between the time period of October 2009 and November 2010 to call a special Tip Line that has been established for this case. The number 1-877-987-8477 (TIPS).
“We believe there are others out there that may have been in contact with Legebokoff or these victims and possess information that can assist our on-going investigation,” said Fitzpatrick.