Published:September 18, 2021

-Global News

A 53-year-old convicted sexual offender has been charged in connection with the deaths of a 24-year-old woman and her 16-month-old child in Hinton, Alta.

In a news release Saturday, police said Robert Keith Major has been charged with two counts of second degree murder and one count of committing an indignity to human remains in connection with the deaths of the mother and child, who were reported missing on Thursday.

“Investigators have learned that Robert Major lived in the same apartment complex,” the RCMP said of the connection between the suspect and the victims.

“No other connection has been identified… between the victims and the perpetrator and police are not seeking any other suspects in this case.”

Cpl. Curtis Peters with RCMP K Division confirmed Major is the same man Edmonton police issued a warning about in 2017.

At that time, Edmonton police said Major was being closely monitored by the EPS Behavioural Assessment Unit and investigators had reasonable grounds to believe that Major would “commit another sexual offence against a female, including children, while in the community.”

Major was subject to a number of court-ordered conditions, including a curfew and not being allowed to leave Edmonton without written consent.

He was also ordered by the courts to stay away from places where children under the age of 18 were likely to spend time and he was forbidden from purchasing any children’s or women’s undergarments.

Major was also banned from owning, viewing or possessing any materials that depict children in “any state of dress, whether it is on paper, video, computer discs, hard drive or any electronic media.”

It’s not known how Major came to live in Hinton in the four years since Edmonton police issued the above-mentioned warning.

Police have released few details about the homicides, including where the victims’ bodies were found, but said officers became involved in the missing persons case at 6 p.m. on Thursday, after the pair were last seen in Hinton.

Major was arrested Friday in the western Alberta community, Peters said.

“He was located elsewhere within the town of Hinton after a search that took place with the major crimes investigators and detachment investigators and police dog services. He was located and arrested without any further incident.”

Peters said one autopsy took place on Saturday and the second was expected to be done on Sunday at the medical examiner’s office in Edmonton. Until that process is complete, he said RCMP could not say what happened to the pair.

“This is an incredibly, unbelievably tragic and heartbreaking event,” Peters told Global News, adding the family of the mother and child have asked for privacy.

“Out of an abundance of respect for them while they’re grieving, the RCMP will not be releasing any details about the names of the victims. Our hearts do go to the to the grieving families,” he added.

Peters said cases like this are also hard on investigators.

“These ones are difficult — they’re difficult for the families, they’re difficult for the communities, and they’re difficult for our members as well. It’s a tragic loss of life.

“It’s hard to wrap your mind around and carry this sort of loss on behalf of the families too. We have a great deal of empathy for the family of the victims. And it’s a tough one.”

Major remains in police custody and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday morning in Edson.

While no other suspects are being sought, police said their investigation into the homicides is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact the Hinton RCMP detachment at (780) 865-2455 or to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Hinton is located just outside of Jasper National Park, about 280 kilometres west of Edmonton.