The two youths charged in the slayings of two people in Strathcona County were wards of the province of Alberta who lived in a group home operated by Bosco Homes, RCMP said Wednesday.
RCMP identified the victims as Barry Boenke, 68, and Susan Trudel, 50. Boenke and Trudel were found dead early Monday morning on a rural property east of Edmonton.
"From our indications, [it was a] completely random incident," RCMP Cpl. Darren Anderson said of the slayings.
A 14-year-old boy from Strathcona County was charged Tuesday with two counts of first-degree murder.
Another 14-year-old boy from Strathcona County was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to murder. Neither youth can be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
At a news conference Wednesday, Anderson released more details about what led up to Tuesday's charges.
At about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, police responded to a mischief complaint at the New Horizon School in Ardrossan, east of Edmonton. The two youths were arrested and charged with mischief, vandalism and possession of stolen property.
They were released back to Bosco Homes pending their court date in July on conditions, including not being able to leave the facility unless they are with a staff member, Anderson said.
However, shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, RCMP were told the youths had gone missing from the facility. Edmonton police later spotted them driving a stolen truck at about 2:45 a.m. Monday.
The bodies of Boenke and Trudel were discovered after RCMP tried to locate the truck's registered owner. Boenke was found lying in the yard of the property. Trudel's body was discovered in a trailer.
"It's horrible," said Gus Rozycki, executive director of Bosco Homes. "And like any community member, we're distraught."
The teens were able to slip away from the facility while playing outside in a supervised group, he said.
"This is not a young offenders' facility. This is a child welfare facility and the kids are placed in our care. They're not incarcerated with us."
Charges a sign of problems in system, NDP says
The minister in charge of Children's and Youth Services, Janis Tarchuk, said department officials are trying to gather as much information as possible about the case.
"We have taken an initial look at the decisions behind the placements. They seem to be appropriate," she said.
"We also have taken a look at whether protocols in terms of reporting AWOL youth were followed and they were. But we will obviously continue to take a look at circumstances as information becomes available."
The charges against the youths are troubling since they are both in government care, said Edmonton NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who called on Tarchuk to hold a public inquiry.
"We're calling on the minister to do a full public inquiry into how children's protective services are being run in this province," Notley said. "We are spreading people too thin, with not enough resources, and we have tragedy after tragedy after tragedy."
People in the community have had long-standing concerns about the Bosco Homes facility, Notley said.
But Cpl. Anderson said the public's perception of the facility conflicts with what police see.
"We do deal with what we call kids that are absent without care on a regular basis that have walked away from the Bosco Homes. They are returned, usually very quickly," he said.
"There is a perception in the community, however, that these youth are causing a lot of risk while absent. Simply, the reality is that the crime levels attributed to these youth while gone are very, very low."