Tens of thousands of text messages tied to accused serial killer Cody Legebokoff – also known online as 1CountryBoy – are part of the police focus into allegations that the 21-year-old murdered four women in northern B.C., the RCMP say.
"Just over the course of a couple of months, there were an extraordinary number of text messages," RCMP Inspector Brendan Fitzpatrick said Tuesday, adding the material that "caused a lot of work" for officers is part of the police investigation.
Police are asking anyone who had any contact with Mr. Legebokoff to contact them. "There's a possibility he's meeting people online and that a lot of these people may be people we want to talk to," Insp. Fitzpatrick said. "They may have information. He may have corresponded with them. He may have tried to meet them. They may know where's been."
In one message on the social-media site nexopia, someone with the 1CountryBoy handle quotes from the 2009 Justin Moore country-music song Backwoods. The section quoted includes a reference to "a real good life in the backwoods."
Mr. Legebokoff has been in custody since he was detained last November while driving away from a logging road near Vanderhoof, where officers found the remains of 15-year-old Loren Leslie, who reportedly knew Mr. Legebokoff. Insp. Fitzpatrick declined to elaborate on that point Tuesday, saying it was "close to the evidence."
This week, RCMP disclosed Mr. Legebokoff is facing three further first-degree murder charges in the deaths of three women. All were reported missing between 2009 and 2010. Police found the remains of two, but have enough evidence to charge Mr. Legebokoff in all three.
The victims are 35-year-old Jill Stuchenko, who worked for an escort service and was found in October, 2009; Cynthia Maas, also 35, found in October, 2010, in an area frequented by prostitutes; and 23-year-old Natasha Montgomery, whose remains have yet to be found.
Mr. Legebokoff's arrest last November was shock enough to residents of his hometown of Fort St. James in north-central B.C., but the dismay escalated with the new allegations.
"It's just a rekindling of the shock and sadness we felt last November," said acting mayor Brenda Gouglas. "The community is reeling once again."
While Ms. Gouglas said that while she does not personally know Mr. Legebokoff, residents have told her there was nothing about his nature to warn of his current troubles. "I picture this as being something so totally out of character for this young man."
She said of his parents, "They're just hard-working, regular citizens in our community who have been here for quite a long time."
On Tuesday, school superintendent Charlene Seguin said the chilling developments were at odds with the young man teachers recall as a student in the community's secondary school. He graduated in 2008 and moved to Prince George, where he worked at a car dealership for about a year.
"He was a typical kid. There was nothing remarkable – I use the word to say there is nothing that would point us in this direction," Ms. Seguin said.
She said Mr. Legebokoff has an older brother, who has graduated, and a younger sister who remains at the school.
While the entire community of about 1,500 is in shock, she said, the anxiety is especially acute among Mr. Legebokoff's former teachers. "Staff members who have worked with the young man in the past are having some difficulty in coming to terms with yesterday's news as you would expect," she said.
Mr. Legebokoff was already facing a direct indictment in the first murder allegation involving Ms. Leslie. But Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said it's too soon to say whether the new allegations will also proceed by such an indictment, which avoids the need for a preliminary hearing.
Elliott Leyton, a professor emeritus of forensic anthropology known for his expertise in serial killers, said it's unusual to have serial-killing allegations against someone alleged to have begun killing while a teenager, as the Crown is suggesting.
"The vast majority of serial killers are between 25 and 55. They cluster in there. Occasionally, there is someone in their 60s, but I have never heard of one in their teens," said Mr. Leyton, of Memorial University in St. John's.
He said the science in the field suggests serial killers act in response to social pressures that escalate in adulthood, and that a "killing campaign" also requires an organizational ability associated with adulthood "to think things through."