In an odd twist of fate (and perhaps by sheer coincidence), at least some of the loved ones who have lost someone along the Highway of Tears may finally get some closure, and at the same time, future abductions may be prevented. I was excited to learn that someone likely responsible for several of the murders in the Highway of Tears area was apprehended. This suspect, Cody Alan Legebokoff, has been arrested and charged with the murders of Cynthia Maas, Jill Stuchenko, Natasha Montgomery and Loren Leslie. The presumed serial killer was 19 at the time of his first alleged kill in 2009. Though too young to have been involved in many of the murders and disappearances that span as far back as the 1960’s along the Highway of Tears, he may be responsible for several of the recent string. Typically serial killers only commit their first offenses in adulthood as the necessary skills and planning required to carry out their murderous acts are not present early in life.
Cody Legebokoff, currently incarcerated, first came to the RCMP‘s attention after a routine traffic stop on Nov 27th, 2010. A rookie from Fort St. James and another patrol officer from Vanderhoof were scheduled to meet along a lonely stretch of Highway 27 in order to exchange case notes. At around 9:45 PM, the constable from Fort St James saw a GMC pick up truck swerving and speeding erratically onto the highway off of an old unplowed logging road west of Prince George. He pulled the vehicle over and upon questioning the driver, identified as the accused, the officer became suspicious at his responses. A second officer arrived to assist, at which time neither were satisfied with his responses so they called in a conservation officer on suspicions of poaching. Around midnight the conservation officer followed the tracks of the vehicle 500 meters through freshly fallen snow and found footprints that lead to the body of 15 year old Loren Donn Leslie, a happy-go-lucky, visually impaired student from Vanderhoof who had been murdered just hours before. Cody Legebokoff was subsequently jailed and charged with her murder.
Investigators served two search warrants on residences where the accused was known to live. They have also dedicated a large part of their investigation to social media sites of which he was an avid user and the text messages on his phone. According to Loren Leslie’s father, they found evidence in his 2004 GMC pick up truck to link him to the murders of the three other women mentioned above. Investigators suspect that Mr. Legebokoff’s first victim was a 35 year old mother named Jill Stuchenko who was reported missing on October 22, 2009. Four days later her body was found in a gravel pit off Otway road in the outskirts of Prince George – the small northern city where Mr. Legebokoff lived.
Almost a year later, the body of Cynthia Maas – another 35 year old mother – was found in L.C. Gunn park in a remote area of Prince George. She had been reported missing on September 23, 2010 by her friends. The very same day, Natasha Montgomery, a 23 year old mother, was also reported missing. She had been living in Prince George but was originally from Quesnel. Although her remains were never recovered, the RCMP has enough evidence to link the suspected serial murderer to her death. The family of the young teen, Loren Leslie, takes comfort in knowing she may have unknowingly brought a serial killer’s reign of terror to an early end before he had the chance to bring sorrow to other families. Their daughter was known to go out of her way to passionately help anyone she could, and even in death, may be continuing that legacy.