Nova Scotia’s Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program has its first success this week in the convictions for Melissa Dawn Peacock's murder.
The Department of Justice program pays up to $150,000, but no tipster had ever been paid.
But a tipster played a role in the arrest and murder convictions of Dustan Joseph Preeper, 26, and his 22-year-old brother Joshua Michael Preeper in the 2011 death of Melissa Dawn Peacock. The tip came in 2013.
On Wednesday, Dustan Preeper pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Peacock’s death. Joshua Preeper pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Roger Merrick, director of public safety investigations at the Department of Justice, says a reward will be paid out in the case.
“It’s exciting to us because it verifies the program works,” he says. “We have two other arrests which are pending court, but it’s very satisfying for the Department of Justice because we have a program out there that is working well.”
Const. Pierre Bourdages of Halifax police says his department has been behind the program since its inception.
"It has helped in the past to bring closure to families. If it's the incentive people need to bring information to police so we have completion of files, it's something we welcome," he said.
Rufus Peacock, Melissa's grandfather, hopes more people come forward.
"It was a good thing that they did," he says. "Thank you very, very much. And not just for myself, but for my whole family."
Merrick says the cash reward is only paid if the tip leads to an arrest and conviction. The amount is based on the investigative value of the information provided.
Employees of law enforcement and correctional agencies are not eligible to collect the cash.
The next step is to review the tip that came in that led to the arrest of the Preeper brothers to determine how much it helped the investigation. That will determine how much is paid.
'Would the information alone be enough to make the conviction? Did the individual provide information, first hand information?' - Roger Merrick
“Would the information alone be enough to make the conviction?” Merrick asks. “Did the individual provide first-hand information in the sense of perhaps being a witness to an offence or having intimate knowledge of that offence?”
There are 77 cases in the program. Callers with tips must provide their name and contact information. All calls are recorded and the informant may be required to testify in court.