An Alberta man who was a suspect in a local unsolved murder case has been charged with kidnapping.
Lester Landry, 65, is accused of confining a woman in a vehicle and driving her to a secluded area against her will after she responded to his ad for housekeeping services.
The woman escaped the vehicle when it slowed down on a highway near the outskirts of Medicine Hat and called police on Jan. 14, the Medicine Hat Police Service announced in a news release Wednesday. She’d responded to the housekeeping ad on social media and arranged for Landry to pick her up in that town, the police news release stated. Police stated they found the woman walking in the area and located their suspect shortly afterward.
Landry is charged with one count of kidnapping and was released from custody on the condition he have no contact with the victim. He’s scheduled to appear in Alberta provincial court Feb. 28.
When reached by the Free Press Wednesday, Landry said he wasn’t trying to kidnap the woman and had “no intention to do anything.” He said he picked up the woman and then drove to a field to let his dog relieve itself. The woman “had an anxiety meltdown” and wanted to get out of the vehicle while he was driving to a field, so he stopped and she got out. She told him she was going to call the police, he said.
“They treated me with the utmost respect. They got an allegation and they had to act on it,” he said.
Landry was considered a suspect in the 1979 unsolved slaying of Winnipeg real estate agent Irene Pearson. He was never charged, but has been questioned by homicide investigators multiple times over the years. He was detained and questioned again in September 2020. Winnipeg investigators travelled to Medicine Hat, and Landry voluntarily met with them. The next day, they showed up at his door with an arrest warrant connected to the killing, Landry later told the Free Press. He wasn’t charged at the time and police didn’t comment on the investigation.
Landry has denied killing Pearson but has repeatedly stated he believes he was the last person to talk to her on the phone before she was slain.
On the evening of Nov. 15, 1979, 31-year-old Pearson was set to show a new property in the Tyndall Park area for Castlewood Homes. The next morning, she was found dead in the basement of one of Castlewood Homes’ other vacant homes, at 114 Kinver Ave. She was hit on the head and stabbed 31 times.
At the time, Landry was a 22-year-old car salesman with a warrant out for his arrest on fraud charges he said related to passing bad cheques.