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Travis Vader Might Be Canada’s Dumbest Murder Suspect

The alleged double murderer has slept through his own trial, and has now been arrested for doing meth and contacting witnesses.
Not the face of a criminal mastermind. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

After he was arrested for testing positive for meth last week, double murder suspect Travis Vader reportedly shook his head repeatedly from the prisoner's box in court.

But, based on his antics thus far, everyone following Vader's murder trial probably feels much the same.

Vader, 44, is on trial for the murders of Lyle, 78, and Marie McCann, 77, who went missing from the Edmonton area July 3, 2010. Their motorhome and SUV were found but their bodies were never recovered.


His defence is that the couple might not even be dead—a novel theory that no one has had a chance to hear yet in part because Vader keeps fucking up the court process, resulting in delay after delay of his own trial.

One of his primary issues is with tardiness.

A few weeks into his trial, Vader rolled into court two hours late; RCMP had to track him using a GPS device already attached to his ankle as part of his previous bail conditions. He told the judge he'd had car problems, including a faulty spark plug and brake line, followed by a flat tire in his "1988 Ford farm truck." Another day, he said he was late because his ankle-tracker was giving him problems. When he showed up in early April more than an hour late yet again, he offered this explanation:

"I'm sorry your honour for being late this morning. I slept in. The reason I slept in, I'm being evicted from my motel room." He noted that he'd been packing and his alarm failed to go off.

In response, Justice Denny Thomas, warned him to get his shit together.

"I'm asking you don't let it happen again," he said. "You can see the number of people who've been inconvenienced by this, and the effect it has on the pace of the trial."

The endless stream of hold-ups prompted a review of Vader's bail order, but instead of revoking his bail, a judge simply added a couple of extra conditions including random drug testing. Conditions that Vader, evidently, could not follow. Last week he was arrested for testing positive for meth and for reaching out to one of the Crown's witnesses—his former roommate Donald Bulmer.


Vader's journey to trial has been a shit show from Day 1. Murder charges against him were originally stayed in March 2014 because the RCMP failed to disclose all evidence to lawyers, prompting Vader to sue the Mounties twice, claiming their case amounted to a "witch hunt." Then, after he was arrested again in December 2014 for the McCanns' murders, he breached his bail conditions twice in a single month, racking up charges for assault, dangerous operation of a vehicle, and recognizance.

It is alleged that when the McCanns disappeared, he was living in the "bush" having spent all the money ($100,000 in three months) he made working in the oil industry on meth.

The Crown claims Vader used the McCanns' cellphone to send (poorly spelled) texts trying to woo his ex-girlfriend Amber Williams.

"Im having a hard time here babe i need to hold you and miss you i'm all alone no place to live or go no clean cloths im realy missing you my love i realy could use some love right know," he allegedly said, following up with a message claiming his legal troubles would likely be "ok" but that he was "so fucking tiered and hungry."

His attorney Brian Beresh has argued because the McCanns' bodies have not been found, there's reasonable doubt the elderly grandparents are even deceased.

It's not yet clear if the latest blunder will be enough to put Vader back in custody—that decision will likely be determined at a hearing May 18.

While his guilt remains a question, it seems clear that at the very least, he's proven himself to be too incompetent to handle being on bail.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.