Published on June 30, 2014
Insp. Jeff Rowden, head of the Criminal Investigations Division for the Prince Albert Police Service, speaks at a press conference on Monday.
Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Published on June 30, 2014
Marlene Bird is currently recovering from her injuries at the University of Alberta Hospital and is reported to be in stable condition.
The man accused of assaulting Marlene Bird was known to Prince Albert police prior to his arrest, the head of the Criminal Investigation Division said on Monday.
Inspector Jeff Rowden said that police first interviewed the accused as a potential witness before evidence began to suggest he was, in fact, the prime suspect.
The accused, Rowden said, “became a subject of importance to us as the investigation progressed.”
“Once we determined that his involvement may exceed that of a potential witness we had to focus on him … The investigation itself was quite complex, so there was a variety of things that led us to him.”
“A lot of the details from that interview will come out in court,” Rowden added. “We have to respect the process and allow that to take its course.”
Police made the arrest on Saturday evening when they executed a search warrant at the home of the accused, who did not resist arrest.
In their official statement on the events leading up to the arrest, police said that their investigation began to focus on the accused as a subject of interest, with their suspicions bolstered by forensic and other evidence.
The accused, police said, knew Marlene Bird and would be considered a “casual acquaintance.”
The vicious assault that left Bird, 47, with life-threatening injuries took place during the early morning hours, when she was left alone with the accused in the same location where she was later discovered.
While an arrest has been made, the investigation remains ongoing and is considered active. Police are still awaiting more evidence to further support the charges and continue to ask members of the public to come forward with any information that may aid the investigation.
However, police are not looking at any other suspects.
“We are quite confident that we do have the individual that’s responsible, otherwise we wouldn’t proceed with in fact laying an information before the court,” Rowden said.
“All the information we have to date -- and it’s all come in -- has pointed us to this one individual, and that’s why we’re at the stage we’re at.”
At the request of Prince Albert police, the Edmonton Police Service spoke to Bird on June 21.
Rowden emphasized the gratitude of police for Bird’s co-operation, given the extent of her injuries.
“Ms. Bird suffered a terrible and traumatic experience,” Rowden said. “She was able to relay some information to our investigators, miraculously.
“To comment on how the information she relayed has impacted the investigation so far would be a little bit premature … The fact that she’s in fact able to communicate is quite amazing.”
Bird is currently recovering from the injuries she sustained in the horrific June 1 assault and is reported to be in stable condition.
The attack left Bird with extensive facial injuries necessitating facial re-constructive surgery. She also suffered burns that resulted in the amputation of both her legs.
Though police plan to conduct a followup interview with Bird, concerns for her health predominate at the moment.
“Obviously our primary concern is her to get healthy,” Rowden said.
“We’ve got time on our side. She’s battled through this already. We don’t want to interfere with her healing process at all … We will at some point certainly be talking to her. But again, she plays a key role in that and her recovery comes first.”
We are quite confident that we do have the individual that’s responsible ... All the information we have to date -- and it’s all come in -- has pointed us to this one individual. Insp. Jeff Rowden
Besides the Edmonton and Saskatoon Police Services, the police investigation to date also involved assistance from the RCMP and National Police Services.
“The help that we received on this file was in fact not only extremely appreciated, but I will use the term overwhelming,” Rowden said.
On behalf of the Prince Albert Police Service, Rowden thanked the Bird family and the community of Prince Albert for their patience, co-operation and support.
He also expressed thanks for assistance and support provided by Montreal Lake First Nation, the Prince Albert Grand Council, downtown business owners, medical staff from Parkland Ambulance, the Victoria Union Hospital, Royal University Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital.
Mayor Greg Dionne expressed his satisfaction with the arrest and praised the work of police -- many of whom, he noted, worked on the case from start to finish -- as well as the wider community that rallied together in support of Bird
“I’m very pleased for our community,” Dionne said. “You always want to say your community’s safe, but all I can say is today it’s safer.”
He added, “I’m also very pleased for the family, because of course when your mother or relative gets attacked, you want justice … We’ll just have to wait and let the (legal) process go and see where it goes, but I’m very pleased for the family and the community that there was an arrest made.”
Leslie Ivan Roderick Black, 29, has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault in relation to the attack on Bird.
Black is currently being held by the Prince Albert Police Service, where he was presented in front of a justice of the peace.
He has been remanded in custody and will make his first appearance at Prince Albert Provincial Court in Courtroom No. 1 on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.