Cusworth murder suspect identified

by - Story: 50353

Today is the beginning of the end of a very long journey for Jean and Terry Cusworth and for the members of the Kelowna RCMP Major Crimes Unit.

On October 23rd , 2009 at approximately 12:00 pm, 43 year old Kelowna resident, Neil George Snelson was arrested without incident for 1st Degree Murder, in the death of Jennifer Shaun Cusworth.

It was 16 years ago, On October 17th, 1993, that 19 year old Jennifer Shaun CUSWORTH was found murdered in a ditch along side a private driveway at 3995 Swamp Road in Kelowna, B.C.

Jennifer was 19 years old and had moved to Kelowna in August of 1993 to attend College at Okanagan University College. Jennifer was enrolled in the Human Services Worker Program. Jennifer was staying with her Aunt and Uncle while she was going to school.

On October 15th, 1993 Jennifer decided to join some friends for an evening of fun and relaxation before another busy week of school.
Jennifer and her friends went to Iggy’s Night Club in Kelowna where, at the end of the evening, an announcement was made of an after hours party at a residence Jennifer had been visiting. Jennifer attended the party at 1791 Richter Street with several of her friends. This was a large house party with over 150 people in attendance. Jennifer was last seen alive at approximately 04:30 am on October 16th, 1993.

From the time Jennifer’s body was found, the Kelowna Major Crimes Unit has been collecting evidence, interviewing persons associated to the file, and exhausting leads in an effort to identify and arrest Jennifer’s killer. The file has been continually reviewed, in an effort to examine what has been done with a view to ensuring that every investigative detail had been covered and documented.

As you can imagine, there are complexities of an investigation such as this, one that has spanned 16 years. Many hundreds of tips were followed up, and hundreds of people interviewed.

Today, we are at the point where, in consultation with Crown, a great deal of this information must be protected so that it can be examined and dealt with in a court of law. Please understand that when questions are answered in general terms, or when questions cannot be answered at all, it is for that purpose and must be respected.

There are aspects and facts about the case that we can confirm however.

We can confirm that:

The accused, Neil SNELSON was at the house party on October 16, 1993.

The accused was a resident of Kelowna in 1993.

That DNA evidence was collected from the murder scene.
That DNA was but one component, in a myriad of facts, that lead to the identification and arrest of Neil SNELSON.

That SNELSON has no Criminal record.

That SNELSON is appearing in court today, Monday October 26th.

That Jean and Terry Cusworth have been advised of the arrest.

It is important to recognize the support that Jean and Terry Cusworth have given over the span of this investigation. For 15 of the 16 years they faithfully came to Kelowna, on the anniversary of Jennifer’s death, to make a plea for information and to remember the life of their only daughter.

It is also important to recognize the efforts of the Kelowna Major Crimes Unit, and the Southeast District Major Crime Unit. Over the years so much work has done, all in the hope that this day would come.
Clearly, giving up was one thought that was never considered, and that is the attitude that has been applied to every unsolved major investigation that the RCMP is undertaking. Giving up is not an option.

It must be stated, however, that the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

This investigation remains ongoing.

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