Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stepdad charged with 1st-degree murder in death of 17-year-old girl (Calgary, Canada)

Stepdad BRADLEY RIETZE has been arrested and charged with 1st-degree murder in the death of his 17-year-old stepdaughter. Despite the length of the article below, there is little real information available yet, not even on how the girl was killed.

Stepdad charged in teen's death

By Stephane Massinon and Deborah Tetley, Calgary Herald
January 23, 2010

By all outward appearances, 17-year-old Brittney McInnes and her stepfather, Bradley Rietze, had a "normal" relationship.

They laughed and joked and occasionally gave one another a playful punch on the arm, delivered with a smile.

He'd been in her life since she was four years old.

Now, the man who stepped in as a father stands accused of killing the popular teen, charged with first-degree murder in a crime that has left friends and neighbours stunned and perplexed.

"He's just a normal guy, providing for his family, and a great neighbour," said Katsuhito Mori, who has lived next door to Rietze, his wife Kelly and her three children for the past three years.

"Something awful must have happened because I have never seen a problem between Brad and Brittney or anyone in that house. This is really one of those shocking things."

Bradley Wade Rietze, 45, was arrested Thursday and charged with the first-degree murder of McInnes, a Grade 12 student at Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School.

A first-degree murder charge implies premeditation or a killing in the commission of another offence, such as sexual assault or forcible confinement.

The victim's longtime friend, Ashlee Endicott, said McInnes referred to her stepfather as "dad" and, though they would argue at times, there wasn't cause for concern.

"It didn't really seem like there was any problem with him or anything," said Endicott. "He was just like her dad."

Investigators are not saying why they believe Rietze killed the teen or how she died.

Acting Staff Sgt. Rick Tuza, head of homicide, said Rietze was being "very co-operative" in the investigation since his arrest.

Rietze previously had minor dealings with authorities, but nothing related to the case, he said.

Another neighbour, Tasha Walsh, said McInnes babysat for her family in recent years and was "neighbourly" with the family.

"It seemed like a normal father-daughter relationship," she said. "I always assumed Brad was her biological father."

Walsh, like Mori, said she is saddened by the turn of events.

"As a mother, I can't fathom losing a child, but to lose a child in this way and under these circumstances, I can't imagine what her mom and her siblings are going through. I guess you really don't know what happens behind closed doors," said Walsh, 34.

Making matters more confusing is the lack of information from police about what they believe happened.

Tuza did issue a plea for Calgarians to report signs of domestic problems to social agencies or police.

"You may have seen a trend here in Calgary with these offences. I think everybody in our community is in a position to assist with these kinds of crimes," said Tuza.

"We've had a number of very tragic incidents that I don't want to be investigating. If somebody saw something in the past and could have spoken up, could it have been prevented? I don't know."

Mori said he never felt uncomfortable around Rietze, who worked as a home renovation contractor with his father and recently installed windows, doors and siding on his home.

He also offered painting and gardening tips. The men spent a bit of time together during the summer, chatting over beers at Rietze's house.

McInnes, her older brother and younger sister and their mother Kelly were there sometimes, too.

"We had patio drinks and barbecues together in the summer and he offered me advice on my garden when I was growing zucchini," said Mori. "I made food for his father's birthday party. He's my friend and it is too, too sad that this happened."

Police also said the family appeared normal and that officers hadn't any dealings with them before Monday.

"Being a family for 13 years, and we haven't been involved in any other investigations with this family, to me, they'd be a normal family," said Tuza.

But on Monday, that all changed.

Police were called twice to the home in the 800 block of Canaveral Crescent S.W. The first time, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., because McInnes was reported missing by her mother.

Tuza said police searched the home, but did not find the teenager.

Mori knew something was up when McInnes's aunt flagged him down while he walked home from the bus stop.

"She was driving around the neighbourhood looking for her," he said. "I originally thought she stayed out late at someone's house and something bad happened. I could never have imagined it was something that happened at home."

The teenager was later found by a family member in her home.

Tuza said McInnes could not have been saved if she'd been found during the first search.

"She was deceased. There was nothing that could be done for her at the time. She had been dead for a period of time," he said.

Rietze had been taken to hospital with undisclosed injuries at 5 a.m. that day. He was arrested Thursday after being released.

Endicott said she last saw her friend Saturday.

The pair saw a movie, did some shopping, then McInnes went to get a new bank card.

The last time she heard from her was a text message just before midnight.

- ¦ Saturday, Jan. 16, just before midnight: Brittney Timeline

McInnes sends a last text message to best friend Ashlee Endicott.

- ¦ Sunday: McInnes is killed in her own home.

- ¦ Monday, 5 a.m.: EMS is called to take Brad Rietze to hospital with undisclosed medical problems.

- ¦ Monday, noon: McInnes's mother reports her daughter missing to police

- ¦ Monday, 2 p.m.-3 p.m.: Police search the Canaveral Crescent S.W. house. Brittney's body is not found.

- ¦ Monday, 4:46 p.m.: A relative finds Brittney's body and calls police.

- ¦ Thursday: Rietze is released from hospital and arrested by police.

- ¦ Monday: Rietze is to make his first appearance in court.