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Man now charged in 1976 death of Calgary teen served time for trying to kill another woman

The southern Alberta man charged with murder in the death of a teenager 47 years ago was previously convicted of attempted murder and sexual assault of an 18-year-old, court records show.

On Wednesday, RCMP announced that Ronald James Edwards, 72, had been arrested and charged with the historical homicide of Pauline Brazeau, 16, who was found stabbed to death in 1976.

But Edwards’ arrest this week is not his first interaction with Alberta’s justice system.

In September 1989, when he was 39 years old, Edwards was charged with the attempted murder, sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault of an 18-year-old sex trade worker.

Three months later, Edwards pleaded guilty to attempted murder and sexual assault. 

Details from his crimes come from archival local newspaper articles published at the time.

‘Human time bomb’

On Sept. 9, 1989, Edwards brought the teenager to his home, where he sexually assaulted and attacked her with a large hunting knife, according to a story published in the Calgary Herald on Dec. 21, 1989.

She suffered injuries to her face, arms and hand. 

The young woman escaped by barricading herself in a bedroom and jumping from a second-storey window to safety, according to reporting by The Canadian Press at the time. 

During a sentencing hearing, the Calgary Herald said the prosecutor described Edwards as a “human time bomb.”

In handing down his 10-year sentence, the judge commented that the victim’s escape may have saved her life. 

But Simon Lord, Edwards’ lawyer at the time, said his client was remorseful and that his behaviour could be controlled if he stopped drinking.

Pauline Brazeau was a young mother

Edwards is now accused of murdering a teenager in Calgary 15 years before he was handed a decade-long prison term.

Pauline Brazeau was Métis. In 1975, she and her older sister moved to Calgary from Saskatchewan. Brazeau was a single mother to an infant at the time. 

Months after the move, on Jan. 8, 1976, Brazeau was last seen at a pizza shop on 17th Avenue S.W.

Hours later, her body was found on a forestry road near Cochrane. Brazeau had been stabbed to death. 

Police investigated but weren’t able to lay charges at the time. 

In 2021, the cold case was reopened.

Alberta RCMP worked with Calgary police and used a tool known as investigative genetic genealogy to help identify a suspect.

On Tuesday, police arrested Edwards.

He is due in court in Calgary next week.

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