Vader's lawyer quits

A defence lawyer has withdrawn as the legal representative for the man Alberta RCMP describe as a person of interest in the disappearance of Lyle and Marie Ann McCann.

Man questioned in McCann disappearance was to appear on unrelated charges

RCMP call Travis Edward Vader, 38, a person of interest in the case of a missing couple from Alberta. (RCMP)

A defence lawyer has withdrawn as the legal representative for the man Alberta RCMP describe as a person of interest in the disappearance of Lyle and Marie Ann McCann.

Travis Vader, who was arrested Monday morning, has a number of outstanding warrants, including three charges of possession of stolen property, legal issues unrelated to the McCann case.

On Tuesday, Brad Thomlinson, Vader's lawyer on those charges, asked provincial court Judge Donald Norheim to allow him to officially withdraw from all matters relating to Vader.

Thomlinson told the judge he hasn't been able to contact his client since Vader missed a trial date in June. The judge granted Thomlinson's request.

Vader did not appear at the Edson court, but Thomlinson said this is not unusual.

"Individuals do not always have to appear in person," Thomlinson said. "They can appear by [closed circuit television]. They can also appear by agent or by counsel.

"His matter was in court this morning and it was dealt with. The judge granted my application. I am no longer counsel of record for Mr. Vader."

Public's help still sought

RCMP would like to hear from anyone who saw the McCanns' light green 2006 Hyundai Tucson, licence plate ZPK 289, between July 5 and 16. Call the nearest detachment in Alberta or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Vader is expected to appear on closed-circuit TV on Aug. 3 to notify an Edson court judge if he has found a new lawyer. If he has a new lawyer by then, Vader's next court date relating to three charges of possession of stolen property is scheduled for Aug. 24 in Edson.

He is also scheduled to appear in an Edmonton court on July 27 for outstanding warrants unrelated to the McCann investigation.

Vader and another man were arrested before dawn Monday in Niton Junction, about 150 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Both were to be interviewed Monday about the disappearance of the couple, who were travelling from Alberta to B.C. in a motorhome pulling an SUV.

Travis Vader's lawyer, Brad Thomlinson, asked a judge on Tuesday that he be allowed to officially withdraw from all matters relating to his client. ((CBC))
Vader remains in custody. The other man, who police have not named, was released Tuesday without any charges.

The McCanns — Lyle, 78, and Marie Ann, 77 — were last seen getting gas on July 3, shortly after they left their home in suburban Edmonton on their way to the Vancouver area.

The couple's motorhome was found burned to a shell at a campground near Edson, Alta., on July 5, but the missing-persons investigation didn't begin until July 10, when their daughter reported them missing after they didn't meet her as planned at the airport in Abbotsford, B.C.

Six days later their SUV, a Hyundai Tucson they had been towing behind the motorhome, was found west of Edmonton.

Vader, who is from Niton Junction, has a criminal history dating back to 1995, when he was convicted of stealing a vehicle.

He was wanted on the outstanding warrants before being named a person of interest in the McCann case.

Police began scouring the area around where Vader was arrested on Monday. The investigation continued Tuesday, RCMP Sgt. Tim Taniguchi said in a statement.

McCann family nervously waiting by phone

The RCMP received more than 130 tips about Vader's whereabouts, along with another 170 tips about the McCanns and their vehicles, Taniguchi said.

In St. Albert, the McCann family is waiting it out together.

The couple's son, Bret McCann, said they're nervously waiting for the phone to ring, hoping the RCMP will have something new.

"They're letting us know as soon as there's any new information in the case. They're keeping us well informed," McCann told CBC News.