Son charged with murder of parents, sister in Alberta farmhouse blaze
Published Saturday, August 16, 2014 4:15PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 16, 2014 5:48PM EDT
Police say 38-year-old Jason Klaus and 29-year-old Joshua Frank are facing three charges of first-degree murder and one count of arson each in connection to the December 2013 deaths of Klaus’ father and sister, and the suspected death of Klaus’ mother.
Frank is also facing one count of injuring or endangering an animal in relation to the shooting death of the family dog.
In the early hours of December 8, 2013, emergency crews responded to the Klaus farmhouse near Castor, Alberta, approximately 140 kilometres east of Red Deer, following reports of a fire.
The building was fully engulfed in flames.
Several days passed before the fire was declared out and investigators were permitted to enter the farmhouse. Inside, the remains of Gordon Klaus, 61, and Monica Klaus, 40, were found.
Gordon’s wife, Sandra, remained unaccounted for, but police believe her remains were consumed by the intense fire, which was fueled in part by coal in the basement of the house.
RCMP held a news conference in Calgary on Saturday afternoon to formally announce the charges against Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank.
Inspector Tony Hamori, an operations officer for the Calgary RCMP major crime unit, said he was confident they had arrested the two responsible for the crime, and that police weren’t looking for additional suspects.
Both Klaus and Frank surfaced as suspects fairly early on in the nine-month investigation, Hamori said.
“It takes time to get all the evidence in a case like this,” he said. “We feel very strongly that there was an element of planning and premeditation in this case.”
Klaus was arrested yesterday at his sister Monica’s residence in Stettler, Alberta. Hamori said he wasn’t aware of the details surrounding reports of an explosion at the residence prior to the arrest.
He also said a number of specialized RCMP units were involved in the investigation, including a dive team that recovered what he described as a “very significant” piece of evidence near Big Knife Provincial Park in Alberta late July.
Hamori said the Klaus and Frank were “friends and associates,” and that neither had a criminal record as far as he was aware.
The two will appear in Red Deer Provincial Court on Monday at 9:30 a.m.