2nd-degree murder charges laid after body found in northeast Calgary park

Calgary police have charged a man with second-degree murder in relation to the death of a woman whose body was found in a city park.

At around 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 16, the body of Judy Maerz was discovered in Deerfoot Athletic Park at 1616 8 Ave. N.E. An autopsy determined Maerz’s death was the result of a homicide.

After interviewing witnesses, collecting forensic evidence, reviewing CCTV footage of the area and receiving a “significant amount” of information from members of the public, homicide detectives were able to narrow down the timeline of the homicide and identify a potential suspect.

Read more: Calgary police ask for further security, dashcam video after woman’s death ruled homicide

On Wednesday, police executed a search warrant for a home in the 300 block of Eldorado Place Northeast, taking one man into custody.

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Police believe the victim and suspect did not know each other and met on the evening of Feb. 15. It’s believed 58-year-old Maerz was picked up by the accused and was driven to the athletic park, and ultimately killed.

Police believe Maerz’s death was “within hours” of her body being discovered.

Christopher Ward Dunlop, 48, of Calgary, was charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a body. Dunlop is due to appear in court on March 6.

Police confirmed Dunlop previously confessed to the 2009 manslaughter of Laura Furlan, admitting he strangled Furlan during sex, drove around with her body before dumping her in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

“There’s a lot of similarities between those two investigations,” Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson said.

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Gregson said police are still finalizing a timeline of the interaction between Dunlop and Maerz, but did believe the fire set in Deerfoot Athletic Park in February was to hide evidence.

Dunlop remains in police custody.

Read more: Christopher Dunlop sentenced to 13 years in death of Laura Furlan

“This was a very public and extremely disturbing murder,” Gregson said. “The victim in this case was targeted by someone unknown to her, and we recognize these types of cases have an enormous impact on the sense of safety for Calgarians.

“Over the past two weeks, our investigators worked tirelessly to identify the suspect and secure key evidence, which led to these charges.”

Police called both Maerz’s family and Furlan’s family after the latest charges were laid.

“Judy Maerz was a mother. We’ve spoken to her family tonight or today and advised them of these charges. And she was a victim of a tragic death here,” Gregson said.

Read more: Christopher Dunlop pleads guilty to manslaughter of Calgary mother

“Somebody has been torn from their life and not only (Maerz’s) family. Laura Furlan’s family as well, we’ve spoken with them and I’m sure this is going to bring up a lot of horrible memories for them as well.”

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Anyone with information about the incident who has not yet spoken to investigators is asked to call the CPS non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Anonymous tips can also be provided to Crime Stoppers.

–with files from Nancy Hixt, Global News

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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