Man who lost family in Castor fire feels targeted
Spending Christmas alone; says RCMP treating him as suspect
A central Alberta man whose father and only sibling were killed in a house fire earlier this month says police are treating him like a suspect.
"No. I did not start this fire. I had nothing to do with this fire," Jason Klaus, 38, told CBC's Janice Johnston. "I had nothing to do with killing my parents, if they did get murdered."
The remains of Jason's father Gordon Klaus, 61, and Jason's sister Monica Klaus, 40, were identified Monday. Gordon's wife, Sandra Klaus, 62, has not been accounted for.
RCMP say the deaths are considered "suspicious," but have not said if they have any suspects.
"Words can't really describe it. It's just a nightmare," Jason Klaus said.
"Overnight, you lose your family, your best friends, your whole life."
Jason Klaus has lived his entire life on his parents' farm near the town of Castor, about 1.5 hours east of Red Deer. He said that on Dec. 7, he was with his parents and sister, who had been visiting. Klaus said his sister was decorating the Christmas tree with his mother, and that the family had made plans to go out for dinner together the next night.
Klaus said he left around 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., spent the night with friends, then returned to his nearby home between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. the next morning.
"I went by the farm and there was no fire then. There was no sign of nothing."
That morning, Klaus got a phone call that his parents' house was on fire.
"That was the shocking news. But the bigger shock is that I knew Mom and Dad were home. And when I went over there, that's all I could see was the house burning."
Klaus said police have told have told him that the charred remains of the home have been thoroughly searched and no trace of his mother has been found.
"I don't see why she wouldn't have been in the house. They sleep in the same bed together. Why weren't the remains found in the same place? I don't know. They [police] won't give me any answers."
He said other circumstances are completely baffling to him: the family vehicle was found 30 kilometres away, and the family dog was also found dead, with Klaus saying he has heard it may have been shot.
Says police, community pointing finger
Klaus said his parents were dedicated, honest, and committed people, and his sister "one of the hardest-working people around." He said he cannot think of anyone who would want to cause them harm. He said many in the community seem to believe he set the fire.
It took investigators several days before they could search the smouldering remains because it was so hot. Klaus said that could be because the home was heated by coal and had a room full of coal.
He said an empty fuel jerrycan, similar to the ones he uses to store high-powered fuel for Skidoos, was found on the property. He said he had left a jerrycan at his parents' property, but that it had clearly been moved — by a person or the wind — from where he left it.
Klaus said he understands that police are doing their jobs, but "there's no reason to even look at me as a suspect."
"To me, it's kind of a twisted little game they're playing with my head. And if they're thinking that I did it, they're trying to twist things around or trying to make me nervous and sweat or say something stupid. But it's just pissing me off."
Christmas to be spent alone
Earlier this week, Klaus posted a death notice online for his parents and sister. He told CBC News he will likely wait until the New Year before making funeral arrangements.
"I cry. I cry myself to sleep almost every night. I haven't slept. No, it's the most painful thing."
Klaus said he still has family in the area, but Christmas will be spent alone this year.
"I actually decided to just go over [to the farm] and do chores … and come home and just put a TV dinner in the microwave, and just pass Christmas here with Monica, dad and mom somehow. I think that's how I want it."
With files from CBC's Janice Johnston