The body of Michelle Charette, 40, was found near the gates of the Ford Motor Co. in Windsor, Ont., on Aug. 16, 2000. ((CBC))

Police in Windsor, Ont., have laid a murder charge in a nearly decade-old cold case, and the accused is the same man arrested a year after the body of Michelle Charette was discovered.

Charette, 40, was found strangled in a field near the Ford plant on Aug.16, 2000. She had disappeared three weeks earlier.

On Tuesday, police charged Peter Dale MacDonald, 51, of Summerside, P.E.I., with second-degree murder.

In July 2001, he was also charged in the murder. But in 2003, just weeks before his trial was to begin, the Crown withdrew the charge, citing a lack of evidence.

"Michelle lay out in the field for three weeks in the rain and the hot weather. The only thing that was left of her body was her hair and her bones," said George Charette, the slain woman's father.

The investigation remained active but the case went cold, police said Tuesday.


Peter Dale MacDonald, 51, who is originally from Summerside, P.E.I., has been charged in Michelle Charette's death. ((CBC))

Then last spring, detectives from the Windsor police major crimes branch travelled to Kingston Penitentiary to interview MacDonald. He is currently serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of James Campbell in April 2000, police said.

The conversation with detectives was brief and MacDonald was unco-operative, police said. Since then, detectives said, new evidence surfaced that allegedly implicated MacDonald.

On Tuesday, police were granted an arrest warrant for MacDonald, and were in the process of bringing him back to Windsor on Wednesday to answer the murder charge.

Police said he is expected to be arraigned in provincial court on Thursday morning.

'I had dreams of Michelle'

George Charette told CBC News he may attend the hearing, adding that about five years ago he gave up hope police would ever arrest someone for his daughter's death. But recently, he said he had a feeling something might be happening.

"The last six months I had dreams of Michelle, standing at the door, waiting for me to let her in," Charette said Wednesday. "It brought back memories, and it was good and it was bad."