Canadian soldier charged with murder in wife's death

A Canadian soldier has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 28-year-old wife, Melissa Richmond, whose funeral took place Saturday.

Funeral for Melissa Richmond took place in Petawawa, Ont., this morning

Howard Richmond appeared in court on the day of his wife Melissa's funeral. 3:11

A Canadian soldier has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 28-year-old wife, Melissa Richmond, whose funeral took place Saturday.

Howard Richmond, a 50-year-old warrant officer with the Canadian Forces, made a brief court appearance on Saturday before he was remanded into custody.

Richmond looked tired and appeared to open his eyes only briefly, once to acknowledge his sister and a family friend who were in the courthouse, and another time to the judge to acknowledge that he understood the charges against him.

He will appear again before the court by video link on Tuesday.

Howard Richmond was charged in court Saturday with 1st-degree murder in the death of his wife Melissa. (Sketch by Laurie Foster-MacLeod/CBC)

The first-degree murder charge comes a day after Richmond was arrested and taken into custody.

Body found stabbed

On Friday, police also executed multiple search warrants including one at the couple's home in Winchester, Ont. They also towed Howard Richmond's truck to conduct a search for forensic evidence.

Police say they believe the suspect acted alone in Melissa Richmond's homicide.

Richmond had reported his wife Melissa was missing on July 24, saying she took a late-night drive from their Winchester, Ont. home and never returned. Her vehicle was recovered two days later in the parking lot of the nearby South Keys Shopping Centre in south Ottawa.

Police searched the area near where Melissa Richmond's body was found but didn't locate a weapon. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

Two days after that, her body was recovered from a deep ditch near a storm drain along Bank Street, near the shopping centre. She had been stabbed multiple times, police sources told CBC News.

Howard Richmond had completed six tours of duty for the Canadian Forces — three in Afghanistan, two in Bosnia and one in Cyprus.

He told CBC News on Thursday that he has received treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and that his wife of eight years was a "rock" throughout his treatment.

Richmond has been with the Canadian Armed Forces since 1988, is a geomatics technician by trade and is currently employed at the Integrated Personnel Support Centre in Ottawa, according to Canadian Forces spokesperson Capt. Joanna Labonte.

Labonte said the Canadian Forces was aware that he had been charged by the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police and said they are co-operating with the investigation.

Friends and family gathered in Petawawa for Melissa Richmond's funeral Saturday, the same day her husband was in court. (CBC)

Friends, family shocked by arrest

Friends and family attending a visitation Friday afternoon for Melissa Richmond said they were shocked by the news of Howard Richmond's arrest.

Michelle Groulx was a guest at the couple's wedding eight years ago and was by Richmond's side when he learned of the death of his wife.

"He loved his wife completely," said Groulx. "What I was seeing was a man who was heartbroken and going through a completely normal grieving process. There was no hint, there was no 'what if.'"

Groulx said the couple were both members of the Winchester, Ont.-chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval re-enactment group. Richmond was "a Renaissance man" who preferred archery to swordplay, said Groulx.

Melissa Richmond's funeral also took place Saturday at St. George's Chapel in Petawawa.

One attendee — who asked to be identified only as Dan — said he knew the couple and described Melissa Richmond, who worked as a dental hygenist, as a tireless volunteer.

"It's just sad all the way around... it's just a sad situation," he said.

Richmond is Ottawa's seventh homicide victim of 2013.