Byron Carr murder accomplice identified by police
Significant breakthrough in 25-year-old murder case
Charlottetown police have gathered evidence that a second man helped Byron Carr's killer clean up evidence the night after the 1988 murder.
Carr was strangled to death in his Lapthorne Avenue home in Charlottetown in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1988. It remains the only unsolved murder in recent times on P.E.I. Byron Carr's family would like to see the case closed for good.
"We don't expect justice at this time, we just want closure," his brother, John Carr, told CBC News this week.
"I remember the day we buried him in the cemetery my mother said, 'It's really not over until we know what happened and why.' And that's the way I think we all feel."
From the beginning, police have said they believe Byron Carr had consensual sex with a young man he brought home that night. Police believe that young man strangled Carr to death with a towel, and made no attempt to revive him.
The case lay dormant for many years, but police reopened the file six years ago. They were hopeful the passage of time could bring new witnesses forward, and that new technologies could help them get more out of old evidence.
It appears their hopes were realized.
Evidence of accomplice after the fact
Police now believe that a second man returned to the house the night after Carr was killed, with the murderer, to help clean up any evidence left behind.
Police say the theory is supported by DNA testing and new statements from two people who talked to the second man.
Det. Sgt. Brad MacConnell took charge of the case after it was reopened. "They told us that this individual had confessed to them about his involvement in the death of Byron Carr," said MacConnell.
The two witnesses are not connected to each other, and came to police with their stories years apart: in 2008 and 2012. Police say the stories included details that could only be known by someone connected to the crime.
Police know who this second person was, but have not released his name. They say he was 27 at the time, and a recent parolee with a violent criminal past. He was on a short list of suspects police developed in 1988.
The man died about 10 years ago. If he was alive, police say they would have enough evidence to arrest him.
"We've thought there were two for quite a long time," said John Carr.
"With these new sightings, and evidence that came forward from people in the neighbourhood and elsewhere, we're very hopeful this theory can be progressed."
The people who talked to the second man told police that the killer brought that second man back to Byron Carr's house, the night after the murder to try to recover incriminating items. Specifically, police believe they were looking for the killer's underwear.
They didn't find it. However, police did find it in the house. They were able to isolate DNA from it, but have been unable to find a match.
The underwear is Zeller's brand. Police believe the killer was slight. While the size is a men's medium, it fits snugly on a mannequin with 29.5 inch waist.
Police also found socks in the kitchen garbage, and believe one of the men wore them on his hands to prevent leaving fingerprints. They were able to get DNA from the socks as well, but could not match it either.
The DNA came from the heel of the sock, and is not the same as the DNA on the underwear. Police believe the socks may have belonged to a third party: not the killer or his accomplice.
A chilling note
Witnesses say they saw two men behaving suspiciously outside Carr's house at around 8:45 p.m. on the evening of November 11 after Carr was killed. This was before his body was discovered.
Between midnight and 2:30 a.m.on November 12, neighbours heard Carr's dog barking, which was unusual, and there was a report of a vehicle leaving the area at high speed.
Police believe it was during this time that Carr's killer and the accomplice returned to the scene of the crime to try to clean up evidence.
They also believe that this is when one of the men stabbed Carr in the abdomen with a long-handled kitchen knife, stole his wallet, and wrote a message in ballpoint pen on the wall of Carr's bedroom that read, "I will kill again." They no longer see that message as a warning.
"What we see in this crime scene is a display of frustration, some lashing out, and some juvenile behaviour," said MacConnell.
Police believe the killer was between 15 and 25 at the time, lived a high risk lifestyle, and was committing low-level crimes.
They also believe someone else may have had a similar encounter as Byron Carr, but survived. Police have a sketch of the perpetrator of that second attack, but they can't be certain that is the same person as Carr's killer.
Police, and Carr's family, are pleading to anyone who knows anything to speak up. Police have already interviewed an estimated 400 people during their investigation.
"Come forward with information," said John Carr.
"It doesn't have to be major television-style, solve-the-crime type piece of information. It's only a tiny piece of information which may lead to conclusion of this."
Police say the murderer must have had a close connection to the second man to trust him enough to take him to the scene of the murder. They are now working their way through a list of people connected to this second man, in the hope that search will help them solve the murder.