Police chief defends homicide probe of hospital death

Saint John's police chief is defending the force's handling of two high-profile, unsolved homicide cases in the city.

Arrest coming in Oland case in 2013, says Saint John police chief

Harry Forestell talks with Saint John Police Chief Bill Reid,about the new facility and unsolved crimes. 14:38

Saint John's police chief is defending the force's handling of two high-profile, unsolved homicide cases in the city.

The Saint John police have been under scrutiny for the lack of charges in the deaths of Saint John businessman Richard Oland in July 2011 and Serena Perry, who was a psychiatric patient at the Saint John Regional Hospital, in February 2012.

The police said they had a suspect in Perry's death last March, but no charges have been laid.

Bill Reid, the city’s police chief, said in an interview with CBC News the Perry investigation has not been straightforward.

Serena Perry was a psychiatric patient at the Saint John Regional Hospital. She was found dead in February 2012. (CBC)

Reid said the police weren't notified there was an issue at the hospital for up to an hour after she was found and even then the details provided to police were sparse.

"Our public safety communications centre were asked simply to notify the family that there was a death and they couldn’t get a hold of the family," Reid said.

"Our public safety communication folks were very diligent and said this didn't sound quite right, they notified our members who asked questions, so from the very beginning this wasn't a normal situation for us."

Reid said his members have done their investigation and have sent a report to the Crown prosecutor.

He said the Crown's office has some questions about the forensic pathology and they have asked for further analysis.

A report with that information is expected to be completed in February, Reid said.

Arrest coming in Oland case

The Crown’s office is also seeking more information in the Oland investigation, according to the Saint John police chief.

Reid said the prosecutors have asked for additional details and that is what is causing the delay.

"That [arrest] will certainly be in this year, 2013. There is still a little bit of legwork our members have to do as a result from requests from the Crown," Reid said.

"We see the end coming here, but at the end of the day we have to do our due diligence and we have to be patient."

Reid said in July the police were "very, very close" to solving the Oland homicide.

And in August, Const. Stephen Davidson, the lead investigator in the Oland murder probe, said in provincial court he’s confident the Saint John police have the right suspect.

But he said the arrest may "not be a short period of time."

Davidson was in court as a part of a fight by CBC News and the Telegraph-Journal to have search warrant documents in the Oland case made public.