Edmonton

Alberta man who lost wife, toddler in double homicide calls for changes to sex-offender laws

Mchale Busch, 24, and her toddler son, Noah McConnell, were killed last week. Cody McConnell — Mchale's husband and Noah's father — says the family should have been made aware they shared their Hinton, Alta., apartment building with the convicted sex offender who is now charged in the deaths.

Mchale Busch, 24, and son Noah were killed inside accused’s apartment, RCMP say

Mchale Busch, 24, and her 16-month-old son, Noah McConnell, were found dead on Friday. A convicted sex offender has been charged in their deaths. (GoFundMe)

Cody McConnell blames the justice system for the death of his wife and son. Police say they were killed inside the apartment of a convicted sex offender who lived in the same building.

"I just really want to make a change here because I feel like this should never, ever happen to any other family again," McConnell said in an interview outside an Edson, Alta., courthouse Tuesday morning. 

"It's unfair. My 16-month-old boy is ripped away from me, and my beautiful wife."

Mchale Busch, 24, and her 16-month-old son, Noah McConnell, of Hinton, 270 kilometres west of Edmonton, were killed Thursday.

2 counts of 2nd-degree murder

Their bodies were found in the Hinton area on Friday, a day after mother and son were reported missing.

In an update Tuesday, Alberta RCMP confirmed that Busch and her son were killed Thursday afternoon inside the apartment of Robert Keith Major, a 53-year-old sex offender who lived in the same building.

Major, who was arrested Friday, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of indignity to human remains.

Busch and her son were killed before the Hinton detachment received a report that they were missing, police said.

Public warning in 2017

Autopsies ruled that the manner of death for both was homicide.

RCMP have previously said they had identified no connection between the victims and Major except that they lived in the same building.

Major was the subject of a public warning when he was released into the Edmonton community in 2017.

At the time, the Edmonton Police Service said he would be living in the Edmonton area. Police said they had reasonable grounds to believe Major would commit another sexual offence against a female, including children, while in the community.

At the time, media outlets in Edmonton reported that he was under a number of court-ordered conditions including a curfew, restrictions on his access to children and a ban on leaving Edmonton without permission from his supervisor.

WATCH: Father speaks of grief, anguish following double-homicide: 

Alberta man fights for changes after wife, son killed

1 month ago
1:54
An Alberta father is calling for changes to the justice system and rental laws after his wife and toddler son were killed last week. Charges have been laid against a convicted sex offender who lived in their apartment building. 1:54

He didn't have to follow any conditions since July 2020, RCMP said.

McConnell said he, his wife and their son had recently moved into the apartment building and had no idea of Major's criminal history.

Cody McConnell says he believes the killing of his wife and son could have been prevented. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The National Sex Offender Registry Database allows police to conduct searches based on information that has been collected and registered. Managed by the RCMP, it includes personal details on registered sex offenders, including where they live.

Police agencies can access the database, but members of the public cannot.

Father calls for 'Noah's law'

McConnell said the database should be accessible to the public, especially if the offender is deemed likely to reoffend. 

He also wants changes to rental laws to ensure tenants know if there is a registered sex offender in their building.

He wants legislative changes in his son's name. 

Many who turned out to support McConnell were fellow workers from Midwest Pipelines. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

"My family ended up in harm's way for no reason," he said.  "Nobody was there to protect us.

"That is why we want Noah's law."

Hundreds of people gathered outside the provincial courthouse in Edson Tuesday to show solidarity with McConnell and his relatives, including his biological mother and adoptive mother.

Many in the crowd were McConnell's fellow workers from Midwest Pipelines.

Next court appearance Oct. 20

Major was scheduled for a bail hearing, and the family had been told his case would be heard in Edson. 

The hearing was instead held in Hinton, 90 kilometres west of Edson. The family and the media had not been informed of the last-minute change.

Major remains in custody. His next appearance is Oct. 20 in Hinton.

In Edson, the crowd fell silent as McConnell, flanked by friends and relatives, walked toward the courthouse, where he thanked supporters and urged legislators to change the way sex offenders are tracked.

He struggled to speak through tears as he spoke of his wife and child. 

"They changed my life," he said.

"They made me whole when I was broken and now they're gone because the justice system is broken, and all I want to do is make the change that will help other families so they never have to experience the loss of a child, the loss of their wife to such inhumane things."

With files from Travis McEwan

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