Family of slain Calgary woman in limbo even after remains found

Family members of Calgary homicide victim Vida Smith said they are in limbo after the medical examiner’s office would not release her remains.

On July 31, 2020, Kevin Barton, also known as Chris Lee, was charged with one count of manslaughter in relation to Smith’s death. She had been reported missing after not returning to her home in Chestermere, Alta., that same month.

Investigators worked to locate Smith’s remains and last October received information about a possible location. Terrain and winter weather conditions made a search “not possible,” but on May 9, officers revisited the site near a rest stop off the eastbound Trans-Canada Highway east of Banff and located the remains.

An autopsy conducted by the medical examiner confirmed the remains were indeed that of Smith.

“She was beautiful. She was independent. She was full of life,” said Sina Oroomchi, Smith’s son.

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“I think it really marked my life in a before and after kind of way,” he said of her death.

Click to play video: '‘We believe she has been murdered’: Calgary police on Vida Smith disappearance'

‘We believe she has been murdered’: Calgary police on Vida Smith disappearance

Oroomchi said he wants to be able to put his mother to rest. When he and his sister found out about the remains, they immediately began to arrange a cremation.

But the family was told there may be animal remains that were potentially merged in the search, and the medical examiner’s office will not release them until it was sure they all belong to Smith.

“At the last minute, they told us they weren’t releasing (the remains) … Basically the body might not be all hers. They can’t confirm it’s all her or not,” Oroomchi told Global News.

The family is hoping that the remains will be released soon so they can move through their grief and give their mother a proper farewell.

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“Nothing can change what happened. Nothing can bring her back,” Oroomchi said.

— with files from Adam Toy, Global News

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