Manslaughter victim’s remains found in park

MARK NIELSEN Citizen staff



Glacier Media


Editor’s note: This story contains disturbing and violent details of a crime. The missing remains of a victim of a manslaughter committed more than 30 years ago have been found in Connaught Hill Park, Prince George RCMP said last week. With help from the B.C. Coroners Service, the remains have been confirmed as those of Donna May Charlie, RCMP said, and added that her family has been notified. Other than to say a member of the public found the remains in October, RCMP did not provide specifics on how they were discovered. Charlie was 22 years old at the time of her death in September 1990. In February 1992, a jury found Charlie’s boyfriend, Gerald “Jerry” Smaaslet, then 30 years old, guilty of second-degree murder and recommended he serve at least 15 years in prison prior before becoming eligible to apply for parole. However, in December 1994, the verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial ordered. Smaaslet was subsequently found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to one year in jail followed by two years probation after receiving credit of 38 months time served in custody prior to sentencing. Second-degree murder is any murder committed on impulse rather than being planned and deliberate. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of someone unintentionally. According to stories printed in the Prince George Citizen at the time of the jury’s verdict and the later decision to order a new trial, the two were staying at a motel on Queensway during a trip away from Fort Ware, now known as Kwadacha, about 450 kilometres north of Prince George. In April 1991, and more than seven months after her death, Charlie’s headless body was found in a shallow grave in an empty lot near the motel. “No cause of death was proved during the trial. Two witnesses said Smaaslet had said he had killed her, but on the stand Smaaslet had a different version of the events,” a Citizen reported at the time.