Suspect charged in Lytton murder case

Charges are laid in the murder of a Lytton man in January 2000.

The Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit arrested a man on Aug. 15 in relation to the 2000 death of 48 year old Sandy Charlie near Lytton.

William Robert Smith, 45, was arrested without incident in Langley, BC and 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 and will be transferred to appear in Kamloops Provincial Court on Aug. 20.

On Jan. 20 2000, friends and family of Mr. Charlie, a member of the Lytton First Nation band, reported that he had not been seen since late December 1999. The family had waited until Jan. 20, Mr. Charlie’s birthday, hoping that he would return or contact them. It was believed at the time that Mr. Charlie had gone out of town on a visit, and would soon return.

An extensive local search by the Lytton RCMP and volunteers was conducted. 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 and investigative findings. It also 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 the remains were those of Mr. Charlie. The discovery allowed the Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit to advance the investigation and collect evidence which has lead to the of Smith.

Lytton Band Councilor Jim Brown said “I would like to thank the RCMP for their work on giving closure to the Charlie family.”

“Throughout the course of our investigation, RCMP officers were reminded that Mr. Charlie was a well-liked member of his community,” said Insp. Gary Shinkaruk of the E Division Major Crime Unit.

“From what we have determined, Sandy did nothing to put himself in a situation where he would be harmed. He was a true victim. We have to also thank the community of Lytton for their continued efforts and support. Missing persons and homicide cases can have a wide ranging impact, and this was even greater in the tight-knit community of Lytton.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Charlie’s story took an additional tragic turn. On Mar. 12 2000, a body was located on the Fraser River near Lytton. The deceased was identified as Mr. Sandy Nolan Harry Cleghorn, Mr. Charlie’s son. Mr. Cleghorn was reported missing on Jan. 25 2000, after traveling 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. Shinkaruk.

Smith has a lengthy criminal history that appears to begin in Lytton around the same time Mr. Charlie was murdered. His most recent conviction was for assault causing bodily harm in January 2011, for which Smith was given 61 days in jail. He had previously received three months in prison after being convicted on the same charge in Coquitlam in 2008.