In a press conference May 29, KDFN Chief Doris Bill said that the community was “relieved to see movement on this investigation” but that the news of an arrest was “bittersweet, because Wendy and Sarah are not here.”. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

UPDATED: Yukon RCMP lay charges in Wendy Carlick, Sarah MacIntosh murders

Everett Chief, 44, has been charged with first and second-degree murder in the women’s 2017 deaths

Yukon RCMP have charged a man in relation to the 2017 murders of Wendy Carlick and Sarah MacIntosh in Whitehorse.

Everett Chief, a 44-year-old originally from Watson Lake, is facing a charge of first-degree murder in relation to Carlick’s death and second-degree murder in MacIntosh’s.

Fifty-one-year-old Carlick, a member of Kaska Nation in British Columbia, and 53-year-old MacIntosh, a citizen of Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN), were both found dead in MacIntosh’s home in Whitehorse’s McIntyre subdivision on April 19, 2017. According to court documents, the women are believed to have been killed on or around April 10, 2017.

Chief, who was already in custody on other criminal matters, was initially charged with two counts of second-degree murder the morning of May 28. Police upgraded the charge related to Carlick’s death to first-degree murder May 29.

Chief appeared in Yukon territorial court that morning to make his first appearance related to the charges.

Dressed in a black-and-white-striped polo shirt, Chief did not speak in court. Before judge Michael Cozens arrived, Chief held his head in his hands and wiped his eyes.

Cozens ordered Chief have no contact with 24 people who could be a part of the trial.

At one point a young woman in the gallery shouted for Chief to “rot in hell” before leaving in tears.

Chief will next appear in court on June 15.

Carlick and MacIntosh’s deaths came during a year when the Yukon saw an unusually high number of homicides — eight in total — pushing police and community resources to their limits. The tragedy of their murders was compounded by the fact that Carlick’s 19-year-old daughter, Angel, was found murdered in Whitehorse in 2007.

Angel’s homicide remains unsolved.

In a press conference May 29, KDFN Chief Doris Bill said that the community was “relieved to see movement on this investigation” but that the news of an arrest was “bittersweet, because Wendy and Sarah are not here.” Bill was accompanied by MacIntosh’s brother Howard, a KDFN councillor.

“The deaths of Wendy Carlick, Sarah MacIntosh and others have devastated our communities,” Bill told media assembled at KDFN’s administration building. “They’ve left us with a feeling of helplessness, because there are many, so many, unanswered questions. Now that an arrest has been made, this matter is before the courts. We must respect the integrity of the process.”

Bill expressed “deep appreciation” for the RCMP’s “diligence and the hard work” on the case and that, “despite challenges,” KDFN will continue to support the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“It’s important the the stories of the women be told and honoured,” she said. “If we are truly going to address what is happening to our people, all levels of government, law enforcement and communities need to come together.”

She added that it was important to remember that there are other murders that are “yet to be resolved,” including Angel’s and two other Kwanlin Dün members, Greg Dawson and Allan Waugh. Dawson’s body was found in Whitehorse’s Riverdale neighbourhood on April 6, 2017, while Waugh’s was found in his McIntyre home on May 30, 2014.

“I urge people to come forward and help the families … give them justice, give them the justice that they are seeking. It doesn’t matter how small that information might be, you never know, it may make a huge difference in the case,” she said, suggesting that people afraid to speak to the RCMP can go through KDFN’s justice department instead or call its TIPS line anonymously at 867-456-TIPS (8487).

She also urged anyone “struggling” to reach out to counsellors at the KDFN health centre and the Jackson Lake wellness team, adding that those resources are available to everybody.

“You don’t have to be Kwanlin Dün. You are not in this alone,” Bill said. “To the families, our hearts are with you. Our community is with you. Don’t give up hope. Take care of yourselves and one another.”

In a phone interview May 29, Yukon RCMP Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard described the investigation into MacIntosh and Carlick’s murders as “difficult on a number of levels.”

“Any homicide investigation is challenging because, you know, the investigators immediately feel a certain pressure because it’s probably one of the most important investigations that we engage in,” Sheppard said. “The fact that this was a double homicide made it especially so.”

The commanding officer said that, over the years, it’s grown “increasingly complex” to collect evidence that’s admissible in court, and, unlike television crime dramas, investigations take time, “just a lot of hard work and frankly, blood, sweat and tears.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours of statement were taken and the transcription work involved and so on,” Sheppard said.

“The days of the proverbial smoking-gun homicides are over.”

He added that he was grateful for the patience and cooperation from KDFN, and “incredibly proud” of the work done by the Major Crimes Unit on this case and on “other files that they’re hoping to bring to the same conclusion.”

“We don’t do it for any other reason than to tell the families what happened and I can think of no greater cause in police work, so I’m very proud,” he said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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