Yukon RCMP Superintendent Brian Jones said the number of murders in the territory in the last year will have an impact on police officer’s workloads for years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Yukon RCMP investigating ninth homicide in 12 months

Supt. Brian Jones says major crime unit’s workload is ‘through the roof’

The workload of the RCMP’s major crime unit is “through the roof,” and police officers are going to have to prioritize which cases get their attention first, said Yukon RCMP Supt. Brian Jones.

The Yukon has now had nine homicides in the last 12 months including five since April. That’s a dramatic climb for a territory that went years without seeing a single murder. The Yukon had no homicides between 2011 and 2013, three in 2014 and one in 2015, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada.

“The question is, is the ground permanently shifting or is this a terrible, horrible, year?” Jones said. “A terrible, horrible year will have an impact downstream for us for many years as we work on these (cases.) These files do not go away.”

Earlier this week police ruled the death of Wilfred “Dickie” Charlie a homicide.

Charlie was last seen near his Carmacks home June 19. His body was found in the Yukon River July 5.

On July 2 police charged Edward James Penner, 20 with first degree murder in connection to the June 28th death of 25-year-old Adam Cormack.

The murder of Greg Dawson, is still being investigated. His body was found April 6 at a home in Riverdale.

Police are also investigating the homicides of Wendy Carlick and Sarah MacIntosh. The women were found dead April 19 in the McIntyre subdivision.

At this point there’s nothing that connects the crimes, Jones said.

“We haven’t solved all of them, so that still remains open. Do I think that there’s a serial killer? No.”

The RCMP’s seven-member major crime unit is leading the investigation in all of these cases. Along with the most recent murders, officers in that unit are responsible for investigating other unsolved homicides as well as various historic cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

RCMP officers from Outside were brought in to help with the Cormack investigation to free up local officers who were investigating Charlie’s death, Jones said. Those officers have since gone home, leaving the major crime unit in charge.

“What they’re going to have to do … is have really difficult conversations about prioritizing the files that they have because there’s no way that they can work on all of them at the same time with the same speed and energy level,” Jones said.

There’s no set criteria for which homicide cases will get attention first, Jones said. Consideration will be given to how far each file has progressed and what evidence is available.

“In each and every case it’s a difficult decision to make knowing that it has impact on families. Those are not easy discussions,” he said.

Still, Jones said he’s confident cases will be solved.

The spike in homicides will likely mean changes to the RCMP’s budget next year, Jones said.

“What that’s going to look like, whether that’s new money, reallocation of existing money, those are all discussions that we have to have.”

Policing in the territory is paid for with a combination of federal and territorial money. Under the current policing agreement, the Yukon pays 70 per cent of the cost.

The RCMP hasn’t made a formal request to the territorial government for more money but the Justice Department is in contact with the division, said assistant deputy minister Al Lucier.

“We are aware of the workload of major crime unit given the recent and unusual violent crime,” he said.

Requests for long-term changes, like hiring more police officers, start around September so they can be worked into the next territorial budget.

“We’re going to take a look at everything and then come forward as part of our annual submission,” Jones said. “This is an extraordinary time and I know that the status quo needs to change.”

The RCMP could also request emergency one-time funding if the division believes it’s going to go over its annual funding cap for the year, Lucier said. That hasn’t happened yet either.

The RCMP spending cap was not immediately available.

The short term needs of a division in the middle of nine homicide cases are simpler for Jones to articulate.

“Right now we need a break … we don’t need another (murder), fundamentally.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read