by Vikki Hopes, Black Press
A woman who was accused of stealing money from a memorial fund set up for a widow and her two children in Alberta last fall has been identified as the victim of a recent homicide in Mission.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team announced on Friday that 29-year-old Ryan Jack Armstrong of Burnaby had been charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a human body in relation to Heppner’s death, although investigators did not reveal her name pending an autopsy.
Heppner’s mom, Anna Carlson of Clifton, Illinois, has confirmed with CTV News and on social media that her daughter is the murder victim.
Media reports indicate that Heppner was under investigation last fall after more than $24,000 disappeared from a GoFundMe account that she had set up for the family of truck driver Roger Belanger, 29, of Sudbury, who died in a car accident in July.
Heppner, who was living near Fort McMurray, Alta. at the time, had been an acquaintance of Belanger’s.
About 170 people donated to the campaign, but the family didn’t receive any of the funds and learned the account had been emptied.
Police were called in to investigate, but no charges had been laid.
Carlson stated on her Facebook page that Heppner was pressured by someone else to take the money out of the account, and then left the province.
“She left because she was scared. I told her that she should turn herself in, but she was scared … She tried to pay the money back. Even one of her friends was willing to sell his semi to help her pay it back,” Carlson wrote.
Armstrong made his first court appearance on Thursday and has been remanded in custody until his next appearance on April 21.
– with files from CTV News
(Photo below:Ryan Armstrong of Burnaby has been charged with the death of Vikki Heppner, whose body was found March 29 near Stave Lake in Mission.)