A man who lost his parents and sister in a horrific fire last month told the Stettler Independent that he knows what happened.
“I’m the one who knows what happened,” said Jason Klaus, 38.
But he wouldn’t elaborate, only saying he was having a “bad day” and that Calgary Major Crimes was at his home.
The Calgary Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the remains of Gordon Klaus, 61, and his daughter, Monica Klaus, 40, from the rubble of a house fire Dec. 8. Gordon’s wife, Sandra, 62, however, is still unaccounted for, said Staff Sgt. Ross Campbell of Edmonton K Division.
The deadly fire has shattered the tranquil Castor countryside and left a community on edge.
Neighbours are uneasy.
“You scared me,” said a neighbour of the Klaus family, an elderly farmer tinkering with his tractor.
“I almost jumped out of my skin,” he added, refusing to give his name or talk about the deaths that have shaken the tiny town.
In town, however, Castor resident Brian Robertson said there’s a “profound sense of loss” in the community, but said it’s highly doubtful there’s “a crazed killer on the loose.”
Although Staff Sgt. Ross Campbell of Edmonton K Division said police don’t know whether the incident was random, he said the public isn’t in any danger.
“If the investigation team felt there was any danger to the residents in the area, they would have said so,” Staff Sgt. Campbell said. “Public safety is paramount to us, regardless of investigations.”
RCMP ruled the deaths as suspicious and their investigation is ongoing.
Coronation RCMP were called to a farmyard at about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, where both Castor and Coronation fire departments were battling the blaze. The fire smouldered for days, preventing investigators, including Calgary Major Crimes, from accessing the fire scene for almost a week. The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the provincial fire investigator, said Sgt. Josee Valiquette from Edmonton K Division.
“This is not the usual fire investigation as we can tell,” she said Tuesday.
“There’s been some time and some effort, but hopefully we will have more information at some point, but not right now.”
Jason Klaus, who farmed with his father and lives near his parents’ farmyard, isn’t a suspect, say police.
“Not that I know of,” said Staff Sgt. Campbell. “It has not been suggested to me.”
Jason Klaus told other media that he was suspicious after he found out his parents’ truck was discovered near the Battle River close to Alliance on the Sunday the fire broke out, but added that his parents didn’t go out the night before.
He also said people reported seeing a man walking on the highway in the area the night before the fire.
Police didn’t confirm that report.
Last week, Staff Sgt. Campbell wouldn’t confirm whether the Klaus family dog was found shot.
“I heard rumours the dog was shot, but (the investigators) aren’t willing to discuss any of the scene facts at this time,” he said.
“It’s possible in a small community people talk and they may have the right or the wrong information,” said Sgt. Josee Valiquette from Edmonton K Division on Tuesday.
“If somebody is suspected of something, we can’t even say or confirm that until there is a charge, until we are certain enough to be able to go to court and lay that information to charge a person, and at that point we can share this information who this person would be,” added Sgt. Valiquette. “As this matter remains under investigation, we can’t say what evidence we’ve gathered or what we’re working on necessarily.”
Police still haven’t labelled the deaths as homicidal, but Sgt. Valiquette said, “For us to be able to advance any motive, we have to be certain of that information. We don’t want to be speculating. This could either injure someone’s reputation. We wouldn’t want to open ourselves until we are sure.”
“We’re talking to many people. Yes, there are some leads. The investigators are continuing this investigation and working diligently in order to hopefully bring something to light. If somebody should be charged, hopefully we will have that at some point, and also to bring some closure to a small community.”
Monica Klaus lived in Stettler and worked in payroll and human resources at Vortex Production Services. Monica often spent weekends at her parents’ farm, according to friends.
Sandra worked at Castor’s Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital. Her parents, Lowell and Janette Berry, live in Halkirk.