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Langley man charged in 1999 murder

A Langley man has been arrested for the 1999 murder of Lytton
A Langley man has been arrested for the 1999 murder of Lytton's Sandy Charlie (Right). In this picture he is with his son Sandy Cleghorn who died looking for his father.
— image credit: submitted

A 45-year-old Langley man has been arrested for the 1999 murder of a member of the Lytton First Nation band.

William Robert Smith was arrested without incident in Langley on Wednesday Aug. 15, said RCMP. Smith has been charged with the manslaughter of Sandy Charlie. He is also charged with interference with a dead body.

He is being held in Surrey pretrial cells and will be transferred to appear in Kamloops Provincial Court on Monday Aug. 20.

It was on Jan. 20, 2000, that friends and family of Charlie reported that he had not been seen since late December 1999. The family had waited until Jan. 20,  Charlie’s birthday, hoping that he would return or contact them.

An extensive local search by the Lytton RCMP and volunteers was conducted.

Unfortunately, Charlie’s story took an additional tragic turn.

On March 12, 2000 a body was located on the Fraser River near Lytton. The deceased was identified as Sandy Nolan Harry Cleghorn, Sandy Charlie’s son.

Cleghorn had been reported missing on Jan. 25, 2000 after he had travelled to Lytton to look for his father.

“Our empathy and thoughts go out to the Charlie family, not only for the uncertainty that has been in place with Sandy, but the added loss of his son who was also trying to find his Dad.” says Insp. Gary Shinkaruk of E Division Major Crime Unit.

The case also underwent an extensive review by the RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit.

In 2005, the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit took conduct of the investigation and continued to review the numerous tips, investigative findings as well as explored advances in forensic analysis.

In September 2011, human remains were located in the Lytton area, in a concealed makeshift grave.

Investigators determined forensically that it was Charlie. The discovery allowed the homicide unit to advance the investigation and collect evidence which has lead to the arrest of Smith.

Smith has a lengthy criminal history that appears to begin in Lytton around the same time of Charlie's murder. His crimes moved to Abbottsford, with a most recent conviction for assault causing bodily harm in January 2011. He was given 61 days in jail. He was charged with the same thing in 2008 in Coquitlam. He received three months in jail.

“Throughout the course of our investigation, RCMP officers were reminded that Mr. Charlie was a well liked member of his community. From what we have determined, Sandy did nothing to put himself in a situation where he would be harmed. He was a true victim,” explains Shinkaruk.

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