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Man charged in historic 1996 Christmas Day murder denied bail

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A bail hearing was held at the Edmonton Law Courts on Friday morning for 48-year-old Brayan Jack Boucher.

Boucher is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Joanne Ghostkeeper.

He was arrested and charged on June 14, 2023 – 27 years after her murder.

Ghostkeeper’s body was found in an apartment at 34 Street and 119 Avenue on Christmas Day in 1996. An autopsy determined she had been strangled to death.

According to the Edmonton Police Service, Boucher was a person of interest early in the investigation but there was never enough evidence to make an arrest.

Advances in DNA testing changed that. Police said the evidence was re-examined at an RCMP Forensic Lab in late 2022 and Boucher’s DNA matched a DNA profile in the case.

A lawyer appeared at the bail hearing on Boucher’s behalf. A publication ban prevents CTV News Edmonton from reporting details of the proceedings, but Boucher was denied bail.

“I feel relieved that he doesn’t get out,” said Mary Willier, the victim's mother, after finding out the court’s decision.

“I was happy to hear that he wasn’t allowed to be walking free,” added Lorne Ghostkeeper, Joanne’s son.

She was just 24 years old when she was killed. Willier said time has not eased the pain of her loss.

“It’s hard,” said Willier. “A lot of people knew her. She was a friendly person. Kind person. She’d give you her last dime.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 2024.

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