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'I just can't believe that it took so long': Body found in wreckage 3 months after deadly fire


A man accused of arson in a January Old Strathcona apartment fire is expected to be charged with manslaughter after a body was discovered in the burned building late last month.

The Edmonton Police Service arrested Jason Zabos on Friday. They said a manslaughter charge is pending in the death of Ricardo Olivares as is a second charge of arson with disregard for human life.

On April 10, police received a missing person report for Olivares, 70.

His family reported they had not heard from since Jan. 5, and reported him missing after discovering that his apartment building had burned down.

On April 22, a search of the burned-out building was conducted, and Olivares' remains were found.

An autopsy conducted on April 24 found Olivares had died from smoke inhalation. The manner of death has been determined to be homicide.

"Investigators believed all of the residents were accounted for following the fire," EPS spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout wrote in an email to CTV News Edmonton on Friday. "Police were not aware Mr. Olivares was unaccounted for until he was reported missing." 

Zabos was arrested on Friday as he was attending a court hearing.

On Jan. 26, police had been on scene at the apartment at 107 Street and 79 Avenue for nearly eight hours before the fire broke out in the early morning hours.

They were there to assist provincial bailiffs in carrying out a court order against a man who had barricaded himself in his suite.

The man was taken into custody at 12:48 a.m. after the fire broke out in his suite.

Seven people were hospitalized as a result of the fire.

Zabos, 44, was charged with arson, disregard for human life, mischief, obstructing a peace officer, and breach of a court order.

EPS says the Director of Law Enforcement was notified at the time of the fire and again after the discovery of Olivares' remains, and has determined the incident remains outside the scope of an Alberta Serious Incident Response Team review. 

Former resident calls death 'heartbreaking'

One resident of the building told CTV News Edmonton on Friday she's angry about the death.

Gabby Keiran says she found out about Oliveres' death last week through a social media page apartment residents had set up to communicate with one another after the fire.

"We were notified that he had passed away. Hearing that was really heartbreaking. Because I just can't believe that it took so long for him to have been found," she said.

"We were allowed to enter that apartment building to grab our stuff. And to go down those hallways and root around in our belongings and in piles of mouldy roof while somebody was just trapped in their apartment. Thinking about that has my throat closing up."

She says someone took down her name when she escaped from the burning building, but she says the overall scene was disorganized.

"There wasn't really like a gathering of people. We didn't have a muster point or any signs in our apartment building as to what the fire instructions would even be."

"I had two different people ask for my name and my contact information. And I assumed that there was supposed to be a list of people. But it just felt very chaotic."

Keiran says she has had minimal communication from her former landlord since the fire.

"I've heard from her once. And that was only because I sent her an email demanding my deposit back."

Acting Edmonton Fire Rescue Services Chief Tiffany Edgecombe provided the following written statement to CTV News Edmonton about the death on Friday:

"This is a tragic situation and one that we would never want anyone to experience. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the person who passed away.

"The members of Edmonton Fire Rescue Services are dedicated to ensuring the safety of people, property and the environment and at every call, work incredibly hard to mitigate any loss. I know that our members feel this loss, as well." Top Stories


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