A date for the preliminary hearings for Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank, charged with three counts of first-degree murder and a count of arson each, has been set for Feb. 29, 2016 – more than a year away.
Both Klaus and Frank have pleaded not-guilty to the charges laid against them.
In December 2013, the Castor Volunteer Fire Department responded to an early morning blaze at a residence just outside of Castor. The fire department notified the RCMP of the suspicious nature of the blaze.
The bodies of Gordon and Monica Klaus, the father and sister of accused Jason Klaus, were found in the fire. The body of the accused’s mother, Sandra, was not found but it is believed that the extremely hot fire, fueled in part by coal for the home’s furnace, cremated Sandra’s remains.
About eight months later, a police dive team was brought in to search a nearby river, where a “key piece of evidence” was found, according to RCMP investigators. There was no elaboration onto what the evidence found was, or why police chose to search the river.
The body of the family’s dog was also found outside the fire zone, shot.
Nearly nine months later, in August 2014, police executed a raid on Monica Klaus’ Stettler residence, where her brother had been living since the fire, arresting him. In Castor, the home of Joshua Frank’s brother was also raided, where the accused Frank was arrested.
Both were charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count each of arson, while Frank also picked up a charge of animal cruelty for the death of the family dog.
Police have remained tight-lipped about the crime, not clarifying whether or not the victims were dead before the fire was set, nor speaking to the possible motive of the crime, so it will be a year before details of the case begin to become known through the hearings and trial, which will see both accused appear before a judge and jury.
A 40-year-old female attended the detachment and reported that she had provided personal information to an online marketing scam. The complainant was advised that she had won a lottery for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for $200,000. She then provided her name, phone address, e-mail and date of birth. Complainant later believed the lottery to be fake, as they asked for $500.00 to be sent via Western Union. The money was not sent.
Break-in and theft
A local business reported a break and enter to C.J. Oilfield Construction, overnight. The complainant advised that several tools were taken from the business. Stolen were two pipe beveling machines, valued at more than $3,000, a lens out of a welding mask, a grinder and two torpedo levels. The theft remains under investigation.
911 received a suspicious abandoned vehicle alert, two miles west of Erskine, on Highway 12. A Jeep Grand Cherokee was parked on the eastbound shoulder with hazard lights on, no one was around and the passenger side window was broken. There was broken glass inside the vehicle and the caller could see a cell phone and asthma inhaler, also inside the cab. It was determined that the SUV broke down and the side window was broken by an unknown person. The 65-year-old male owner of the vehicle from Alix, attended the detachment to pick up his recovered wallet. The owner did not wish to provide a statement and was not interested in furthering the investigation.
Stolen tools recovered
Report of a 30-year-old male from Stettler attempting to sell tools out of a vehicle on 50 Avenue and 66 Street resulted in the recovery of stolen goods. A 32-year-old male pulled up in another vehicle with three other occupants and approached the seller, who tried to get into his vehicle and leave. The 32-yearold believed the tools were his, that had recently been stolen. One of the males broke the back window of seller’s vehicle. The 32-year-old then got into the same vehicle and commenced yelling at the seller. The tools were identified by the 32-year-old as being stolen. Charges are pending.