Key witness in Travis Vader trial speaks to CTV News
He’s lived under police protection for years, but the man known as ‘Bandana Dave’ Olson sat down for an exclusive interview with CTV’s David Ewasuk.
He returned to the small town of Peers, Alberta for the interview – the mobile home he used to live in is gone; knocked down by the county after it fell into disrepair. He said that happened while he was in witness protection, he said he now owes the fees to knock it down, and back taxes.
Still, he told CTV News he would do it all again.
“I’d do it again because it was the right thing to do, I’ll say it again, that could have been anybody’s grandparents,” Olson said.
He’s referring to Lyle and Marie McCann, a St. Albert couple who disappeared on the Canada Day long weekend in 2010.
Their burned-out motorhome and abandoned SUV were found in the weeks that followed, but their remains have never been found.
In September, 2016, Travis Vader was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of the pair – his charges later downgraded to manslaughter. He was sentenced to life in prison in January, 2017.
Months later, Olson stands on his empty property, he reflects on that weekend seven years ago – seeing Vader pull up in a vehicle matching the description of the SUV owned by the McCann’s on July 3, 2010.
“I remember his vehicle, I remember his attitude, I remember him backing it in,” he said.
Olson said, when police came to check that he was abiding by conditions – placed on him after he was caught with a marijuana grow operation – he told them what he saw. He said he knew with certainty from the reaction he received, that it was important.
“I happened to ask them, so, have you found that green SUV yet? And they said ‘No’,” Olson said. “I spoke up and said that’s because Travis Vader’s driving it.”
“[The officer’s] eyes got huge and he just said ‘You’re shitting me’,” Olson said.
Olson told CTV News he decided to enter witness protection after a plot was revealed to him, involving his mobile home in Peers, and instructions to set it on fire, with him inside.
“Burn it down, with me in it,” he said he was told.
Although he now has nothing to come back to, Olson told CTV News he believes he did the right thing, and had nothing to gain from it.
As for Vader, he doesn’t appear to fear him any longer – apparent in the message he wanted to send to him: “Well, who’s the punk now?”
With files from David Ewasuk