Two men accused of murdering a Castor-area family made their first appearance in Red Deer Provincial Court on Monday.
Jason Gordon Klaus, 38, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson in relation to the deaths of his father Gordon Klaus, 61, his mother Sandra Klaus, 62 and his sister Monica Klaus, 40, last December.
Joshua Gregory Frank, 29, has also been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths as well as one count of arson and one count of injuring or endangering an animal in relation to the shooting death of the family dog.
All of the charges were read aloud in court as both suspects appeared separately via closed circuit television. Jason looked down for the most part during his appearance and as the charges against him were read.
The remains of Gordon and Monica were found in what was left of a burnt-out house in Castor on Dec. 8th, 2013. The body of Sandra has never been found and during a press conference in Calgary this past Saturday, RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori, operations officer for the Calgary RCMP Major Crimes Unit, said police believe her remains were consumed by the fire.
Hamori added Jason was arrested last Friday at Monica’s residence in Stettler while Frank was arrested at his brother’s residence in Castor.
He said the arrests were made after a “Key piece of evidence” was found by an RCMP dive team from B.C. in Big Knife Provincial Park during a dive on July 26th and July 27th. He said that evidence played a major role in laying the charges against the two suspects.
In addition, he added Jason was a suspect early on, but it took months for the RCMP to build their case.
“Jason Klaus was deemed to be a suspect quite early in the investigation. Joshua Frank became a suspect a little bit later on,” he said, adding Jason and Frank are friends and associates. “We are confident we have the two people responsible for this crime and we’re not looking for any other suspects.”
On Monday morning, court heard that both suspects were in the process of retaining lawyers.
They will return to Red Deer Provincial Court on Sept. 17th.