The families of two murdered First Nations women must wait a little longer for the wheels of justice to begin spinning after the alleged killer was given two weeks to find a lawyer during his first court appearance to face homicide charges.
Teary-eyed family members of murder victims Jeanette Chief and Violet Heathen filled Lloydminster’s Alberta Provincial Court room Tuesday morning, many of them lined up and spilling into the lobby, while they tried to get a glimpse of alleged killer Gordon Alfred Rogers as he appeared from Edmonton Remand Centre on closed circuit television.
Accounts of the 60 year old Rogers describe him as clean cut with salt and pepper hair and a well manicured beard.
He has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, one each for the slayings of Chief and Heathen, two Onion Lake women who were killed in Lloydminster area in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
Relatives and supporters of the women gathered outside the courts on the snowy morning where they performed and watched as a drum circle played a journey song of healing before proceedings began.
Grant Whitstone, of Onion Lake, performed in the circle and said the idea is the song will give hope and strength to family members.
“(This will) give them strength because the songs and the drums are powerful in our Indian way of life, and that’s just why we came out to sing for them, and what we sang are healing songs, journey songs, for the women that have passed on,” said Whitstone.
“We all know that missing and murdered women are a priority across Canada for many number of years now and that’s why it’s important that we continue to use our traditions to move forward and help families like this.”
Chief disappeared on June 2, 2007, one day after leaving her home in Onion Lake Cree Nation, and her body was found by police four days later, on June 6, just outside the Border City.
Police later said they immediately considered the death of the 48-year-old woman to be a homicide.
Nearly two years passed before Violet Heathen, 49, also vanished. She was last seen May 15, 2009.
Heathen’s remains were found near Kitscoty, Alta., roughly six months later and the investigation that followed would last more than half a decade.
Rogers was brought into custody after a joint investigation between RCMP in both Saskatchewan and Alberta linked him to both cases and identified him as a person of interest in each file.
He was arrested in Edmonton, Alta. on March 22.
Rogers next appears in Lloydminster court on April 19.