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TheRockies.Life Staff

Justice at Last: RCMP Crack 1976 Cold Case of Teen Mother’s Murder

After nearly 50 years, the RCMP arrested a suspect in the murder of 16-year-old Métis mother, Pauline Brazeau

Pauline Brazeau was a 16-year-old Métis single mother from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. 

She grew up in a small house with eight other people, including her parents, her siblings, and two cousins that her parents took in when her aunt died. 

But almost 50 years ago, life for the Brazeau family changed for the worse.

Pauline Brazeau, who was described by her sister as being an outgoing and friendly kid | Canadian Crimeopedia

Pauline and her older sister, Nancy, had moved to Calgary a few months earlier. 

On January 8, 1976, Pauline was having drinks at her aunt’s apartment in the west end of Calgary. She left the apartment around 2:30 AM to get pizza with a friend at Peppe’s Ristorante in the 7th Street and 17th Avenue area.

After they finished eating, the pair left, but Pauline realized she had forgotten her gloves. She returned to the restaurant for her gloves but left empty-handed. 

Five hours later, her body was found on a forestry road outside of Calgary. Pauline was stabbed to death that night. She was one of several murders that took place in the area at the time.

Pauline’s death was labelled a homicide, and the RCMP launched an investigation. The case remained unsolved. 

In 1995, the RCMP formed a task force to re-investigate unsolved murders in the area, including Pauline’s.

The investigation started to make headway in 2021 when the Alberta RCMP Historical Homicide Unit (HHU) partnered with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) Cold Case Homicide Unit. These two units specialize in solving unsolved missing person cases and homicide cases.

HHU and CPS poured into historical homicide investigations dating back to the 1970s. The following year, HHU partnered with Othram Inc., a private lab based in the United States that uses advanced technology to solve unsolved cases by analyzing DNA evidence. Slowly but surely, the evidence was closing in on a lead.

RCMP Superintendent David Hall announcing an arrest in the killing of Pauline Brazeau | Daniel Gonzalez | The Cochrane Eagle

Earlier this year, the HHU and CPS identified a suspect: 73-year-old Ronald James Edward, a resident of Sundre. 

The HHU continued diligently investigating before arresting Ronald on November 7, 2023. He has been charged with murder and will appear in the Alberta Court of Justice in Calgary.

This is the second investigation in which the RCMP has successfully used advanced technology to solve a cold case. 

“Throughout the years, we have always been hopeful that the person responsible would be held accountable…I truly hope that Pauline’s surviving family find some closure as they receive answers,” Inspector Brianne Brown, the Office-In-Charge of Alberta RCMP Serious Crimes Branch, told Town and Country Today.

According to RCMP Superintendent David Hall, there is no evidence to suggest that Pauline’s murder is connected to the other murders around that time. After almost 50 years, the Brazeau family can finally close a painful chapter of their lives. 

This new investigative technique offers hope for all those still seeking answers to unsolved cases.

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