The lawyer representing a man charged with killing P.E.I. high school teacher Byron Carr 35 years ago appeared in a Charlottetown courtroom on his client’s behalf Thursday morning.
Carr was strangled in his Charlottetown home on Nov. 11, 1988. No one was charged or arrested in connection with Carr’s death and eventually the case went cold.
Police reopened the investigation in 2007, and on Jan. 26 of this year announced an arrest in the case, crediting genetic genealogy for helping identify the suspect.
Todd Joseph Gallant, 56, was charged with first-degree murder and interfering with human remains. He had most recently been living in Souris.
At a brief hearing in P.E.I. Provincial Court Thursday morning, the case was adjourned until March.
“That will give everyone an opportunity to understand the case and understand the allegations that are being made against Mr. Gallant so that we can figure out what the next steps should be in the process,” defence lawyer Chris Montigny told reporters outside the courthouse.
“My guess is that it’s going to be voluminous boxes worth of stuff to go through, so it’s just going to take some time to get up to speed.”
Montigny said it’s too early to say how Gallant plans to plead when the trial gets underway. It’s not yet clear when the case might be going to trial.
Unsolved for 35 years
Carr, 36, taught English at Montague Regional High School. He was strangled with a towel in his home on Lapthorne Avenue in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1988, and his body was eventually discovered with multiple stab wounds.
The case had been P.E.I.’s only unsolved homicide in modern times.
Police had long said they believed Carr had consensual sex with a young man he brought home and presumed that person was his killer. Underwear believed to belong to the killer was found in Carr’s home.
At a news conference announcing the charges last week, police said genetic genealogy was used to match DNA from the crime scene.
“Combining advances in DNA with some genetic genealogy work, we were able to identify one of the individuals associated to those profiles found at the crime scene,” Charlottetown police Chief Brad MacConnell said at the news conference.
“Through that, we were able to identify Todd Joseph Gallant as being the donor of the evidence that we believe was deposited by the individual that was with Byron in the past.”
A ‘dark and unfortunate time’
A message written in ink on Carr’s wall when his body was found read, “I will kill again.” The Island’s LGBTQ community was left in fear that a serial killer could be on the loose.
MacConnell told reporters last week the murder “shook our city and province to its core,” particularly Carr’s family and his friends in the gay community.
MacConnell said Carr kept his sexuality a secret but it was brought to light when he died.
The chief called the era a “dark and unfortunate time” in P.E.I.’s history that forced people like Carr to “socialize in the shadows and take unnecessary risks.”
“Was it hate-involved, [were] there other factors?” MacConnell said. “I know that we’ve always — and the family has always — just wanted the truth, no matter what it was. And hopefully we can get that.”