SYDNEY — Cape Breton Regional Police have named the men they believe murdered 21-year-old Laura Catherine Jessome, even though they have not yet charged the two suspects.
In court documents filed in December for two Cape Breton men charged with being accessories after the fact to murder, police identify Glace Bay residents Thomas Barrett, 37, and Morgan James MacNeil, 21, as the people they suspect killed Jessome.
Jessome’s body was pulled from the Mira River on May 25, 2012. The body was stuffed inside a hockey bag and police have declined to release the exact cause of death.
Both Barrett and MacNeil are currently being held in the Cape Breton Correctional Centre on a host of unrelated charges.
The court informations for Robert Edwin Matheson, 49, and Bryan Augustine Deruelle, 37, both of Glace Bay, allege the pair knew that Barrett and Morgan had murdered Jessome and helped them for the purpose of escaping.
“I have never seen such a thing before. I am as surprised as everyone else,” Barrett’s defence lawyer Tony Mozvik said of how police named his client as a murder suspect.
MacNeil’s defence lawyer was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Cape Breton chief Crown attorney Dan MacRury said the Crown does not need a murder charge to prosecute the accessory charges. He declined any further comment on the case.
Police spokeswoman Desiree Vassallo said Tuesday a team of investigators continues to actively work on the Jessome case.
“We will keep going until we get everyone responsible,” she said.
Jessome was last seen alive May 2, 2012, in the New Aberdeen area of Glace Bay. Since the discovery of her body, regional police have searched a number of Glace Bay locations and uncovered what they’ve described as several key pieces of evidence.
The province announced a cash award of up to $150,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Jessome’s death.
Matheson and Deruelle are also in jail awaiting bail hearings. Matheson’s hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5 while Deruelle is scheduled to have his Jan. 16.
Meanwhile, Barrett is scheduled to stand trial in Supreme Court in April on charges that include attempted murder, assault, unlawful confinement and obstruction. Those charges are not related to the Jessome case.
MacNeil is scheduled to appear in provincial court Jan. 22 to enter pleas on a host of charges related to two armed robberies involving a bank and a jewelry store.