Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

RCMP charge man with double-homicide in Ethelbert

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The home where the double homicide took place.


The home where the double homicide took place.

RCMP have arrested a suspect for the January killings of an elderly woman and her nephew in a quiet western Manitoba community.

Payton Saari, 20, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, indicating the slayings were a planned, pre-meditated act. He is being held in custody without bail.

Saari is a resident of Ethelbert, the same small western Manitoba town where the two victims were found. Elsie Steppa, 81, was found inside her home while Clarence Thornton, 50, was found on the property. Thornton was known to those in the community as "Harry Jones."

RCMP said today both victims died from "blunt force trauma." They described Saari as an "acquaintance" of the victims and say the killings happened as a result of an "altercation."

No other details were provided.

Cpl. Miles Hiebert said the investigation began as a real "whodunit" but quickly evolved thanks to good police work and forensic analysis. Saari was identified as a person of interest early on but wasn’t arrested until Tuesday, he said.

The double homicide rocked residents in the community of 320 people, located 60 km north of Dauphin.

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