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article imageKelowna cops charge man with 1993 murder of college student

By Salim Jiwa     Oct 26, 2009 in Crime
The body of Kelowna college student Jennifer Cusworth was found in a ditch 16 years ago. A Lutheran Church guitar player is now facing a first degree murder charge. Her parents made a pilgrimage to Kelowna every year to appeal for information.
KELOWNA – He calls himself a Christian. Now he is charged with the brutal slaying of Jennifer Cusworth who was killed and dumped in a ditch 16 years ago.
Neil George Snelson, 43, was picked up by the RCMP in Kelowna and charged with first degree murder in Cusworth’s death.
Jennifer’s body was found in a roadside ditch near a private driveway at 3995 Swamp Road in Kelowna on Oct. 17, 1993.
She was a student and was staying with her aunt and uncle while she attended Okanagan University College.
The man charged was at a party the night Jennifer died. She was there too, police said.
Snelson is a member of the First Lutheran Church in Kelowna.
“His online profile says: “I am a member of First Lutheran Church in Kelowna, British Columbia Canada. I play Bass guitar for one of our worship teams as well as coordinating the sound techs for the services. I also serve as one of the sound techs for our church. I would like to extend an invitation to anyone passing through, to come and worship with us. It would be a blessing to meet you!
“Today is the beginning of the end of a very long journey for Jean and Terry Cusworth and for the members of the Kelowna RCMP Major Crimes Unit,” said Const. Steve Holmes about the ordeal of Jennifer’s parents and police officers, some of whom spent their entire policing career probing the case.
“On October 23rd , 2009 at approximately 12:00 pm, 43 year old Kelowna resident, Neil George Snelson was arrested without incident for 1st Degree Murder, in the death of Jennifer Shaun Cusworth,” said Holmes in a press release..
“On October 15th, 1993 Jennifer decided to join some friends for an evening of fun and relaxation before another busy week of school,” he said.
“Jennifer and her friends went to Iggy’s Night Club in Kelowna where, at the end of the evening, an announcement was made of an after hours party at a residence Jennifer had been visiting,” added Holmes.
“Jennifer attended the party at 1791 Richter Street with several of her friends. This was a large house party with over 150 people in attendance. Jennifer was last seen alive at approximately 04:30 am on October 16th, 1993.
“From the time Jennifer’s body was found, the Kelowna Major Crimes Unit has been collecting evidence, interviewing persons associated to the file, and exhausting leads in an effort to identify and arrest Jennifer’s killer,” he said.
“The file has been continually reviewed, in an effort to examine what has been done with a view to ensuring that every investigative detail had been covered and documented.
“As you can imagine, there are complexities of an investigation such as this, one that has spanned 16 years. Many hundreds of tips were followed up, and hundreds of people interviewed.
“Today, we are at the point where, in consultation with Crown, a great deal of this information must be protected so that it can be examined and dealt with in a court of law,” he said.
Police confirm the following facts:
* The accused, Neil SNELSON was at the house party on October 16, 1993.
* The accused was a resident of Kelowna in 1993.
* That DNA evidence was collected from the murder scene.
* That DNA was but one component, in a myriad of facts, that lead to the identification and arrest of Neil Snelson.
* That Snelson has no Criminal record.
The Cusworths have gone to Kelowna every year on the anniversary of Jennifer’s death to make a plea for information, said Holmes.
“It is also important to recognize the efforts of the Kelowna Major Crimes Unit, and the Southeast District Major Crime Unit. Over the years so much work has done, all in the hope that this day would come. Clearly, giving up was one thought that was never considered, and that is the attitude that has been applied to every unsolved major investigation that the RCMP is undertaking. Giving up is not an option,” he added.
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