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Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Daughter charged in brutal slaying of parents
First-degree murder: Two teens also face charges in killing of Alberta couple

Juliet Williams
Calgary Herald

Mike Sturk, Calgary Herald / Murder suspect Catherine Tkachuk, 31, is taken into court in Cochrane, Alta., after her parents were bludgeoned to death and found in a burned van 15 kilometres northwest of the town.

Mike Sturk, Calgary Herald / Edward Raymond Stevens, 18, was taken to court in Cochrane yesterday.

COCHRANE, Alta. - Dozens of courtroom spectators watched yesterday as the daughter of a prominent local ranching couple was brought into court in handcuffs and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of her parents.

Catherine Tkachuk (formerly Bowlen), 31, appeared briefly in a standing-room-only courtroom during a short proceeding before Justice John Reilly.

Her 18-year-old boyfriend, Edward Raymond Stevens, and a 17-year-old youth also appeared separately. All were ordered to return June 1 to answer to charges of murdering Yvonne and James Bowlen.

James (Jay) Bowlen, 63, a relative of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, and his wife, Yvonne, 62, were found dead in their burned Toyota minivan early Friday on a remote road near Cochrane, a community of 10,000 people 40 kilometres east of Calgary. Police said they were killed and then their van was set on fire.

Yesterday, Staff Sergeant Bob Wheadon of the Cochrane RCMP said the Bowlens were struck on the head with hammers and stabbed with knives. Either action could have caused death, he said.

A service for the popular couple, who had recently sold their Mount Royal Ranch to enjoy their retirement, is being held at a Calgary funeral home tonight. The funeral for the Bowlens will be held at St. Mary's Cathedral in Calgary on Thursday.

The couple's adopted daughter showed little emotion, though lawyer Allan Fay said his client was stressed when he met with her for several minutes. She appeared in court wearing grey sweat pants, a grey sweatshirt and running shoes, and looked up only briefly.

"She's very upset," Mr. Fay said. "Being in custody at the RCMP detachment, there has been some problems receiving her epilepsy medication."

Mr. Fay said lawyers will try to get the mother of three out on bail when she appears June 1.

Mr. Stevens shifted several times as he stood before the judge in black sweatpants and a black shirt, casually shrugging his shoulders and staring intently at a couple of spectators.

The third accused, a young offender who cannot be named, looked at the judge as the charges against him were read, occasionally sneering and flipping a mop of blond hair off of his face.

The three were arrested near Virden, Man., on Saturday.

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