Canada

Suspect in 1993 Hanover, Ont., cold case charged again

A man who confessed to the 1993 killing of Hanover, Ont., teenager Christine Harron, but had charges against him stayed after a mistake-ridden investigation, has been rearrested and charged with first-degree murder in the case.

Case against man in teenager Christine Harron's disappearance was dropped

A man who confessed to the 1993 killing of Hanover, Ont., teenager Christine Harron, but had charges against him stayed after a mistake-ridden investigation, has been rearrested and charged with first-degree murder in the case.

Ontario Provincial Police arrested Anthony Edward Ringel Wednesday night, said David Ridgen, a freelance filmmaker, who produced a documentary on the Harron case.

Previously a judge had deemed interviews and a search for Christine's body conducted by police with Ringel to be inadmissible evidence.

Ringel appeared in court Thursday afternoon, according to Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for Ontario attorney general.

Ridgen and Harron's family — her mother, Mary Ann Russwurm, and her step-father, Shawn Russwurm — spoke with CBC News briefly on their way to the courthouse.

"It feels great that something has come forward and he’s off the streets now," said Christine's mother by phone from their vehicle.

A Waterloo Regional Police officer came to the Russwurms' home last night, said Christine's stepfather. The Russwurms no longer live in Hanover and declined to provide their current address. 

The officer asked them to call an OPP detective, Christine's stepfather said. The detective told Mary Ann that OPP had found new evidence — but no body — in her daughter's murder case and had rearrested Ringel, he said.

OPP mistakes mar investigation

Christine, then 15, disappeared in Hanover, Ont., on May 18, 1993. She had stayed home in the morning, but headed to school around lunch after a truancy officer called. Her mother, who had been at home with Christine at the time, never saw her again.

Ringel confessed to Christine's slaying in August 2004. Police arrested him that night and charged him with murder.

However, during pretrial interviews, officers did not always inform Ringel of his rights or properly record the interviews, which is required by the courts. According to pretrial documents, Ringel was also taken by police to what he alleged was the location of Christine's body even after his lawyer advised him not to go.

In September 2006, a judge deemed the interviews and body search to be inadmissible evidence. All charges against Ringel were stayed. If the police found new evidence, the charges could have been brought back before the courts within 12 months. But, no new evidence came forward.

Family seeks closure, answers

The Russwurms weren't told what the new evidence is, but Ridgen speculates it is significant. He said it could be along the lines of securing an admission from Ringel to an undercover officer, or having a friend or family member to whom Ringel had confessed come forward and agree to testify.

The Russwurms were heading to Walkerton Thursday, hoping to find out what the new evidence is.

Christine's mother said she is not worried about having to see Ringel again and remains hopeful about the case with these new developments. She said she hopes the police have enough evidence to convict Ringel this time and sentence him to a prison term to prevent him from hurting others.

"I just want a bit of closure here," she said, "and [to] find the answers to my questions."

Ringel will make a second court appearance via video on March 4 at 2 p.m. ET, according to Crawley.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that Walkerton, Ont., is 10 kilometres east of Hanover. In fact, it is west of Hanover.
    Feb 28, 2013 2:45 PM ET

With files from The Canadian Press