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By Dean Pritchard
Myrna Letandre, who was 37 and originally from the Fairford First Nation, was reported missing by her sister in 2006. Her remains were found in a Winnipeg rooming house seven years later. Traigo Andretti was given a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years in 2014 for the first-degree murder of his wife, Jennifer McPherson, who was also a longtime Winnipeg resident. Traigo Andretti pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Myrna Letandre as her family members wept in a Winnipeg court Aug. 25, 2015.
Traigo Andretti, 40, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2006 killing of 36-year-old Myrna Letandre.
Police found Letandre’s skull in May 2013, hidden in a basement crawlspace of the Lorne Avenue home she and Andretti shared for a short time before her death.
“This is by all measures a brutal and senseless murder,” said Justice Chris Martin before sentencing Andretti to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years. “It’s a despicable, vile crime … I question whether the evil that you did has really sunk in.”
Andretti had known Letandre for just a few weeks when he strangled her with a nylon cord, dragged her to the bathroom shower stall and slit her throat. In the hours that followed, Andretti dismembered Letandre’s body and flushed several small pieces down the toilet. Others he discarded in a garbage dumpster.
Andretti wrapped Letandre’s head in plastic and buried it in the basement crawlspace.
When Letandre’s sister Lorna Sinclair came to Andretti looking for her, Andretti claimed she had met a man at the bar and left with him for Vancouver.
“I wish I knew why he did this,” Sinclair told court. “My sister was harmless, she deserved to live … I hope Mr. Andretti burns in hell. God will judge him one day.”
Sinclair criticized police for not questioning Andretti at the time, arguing if they had, his wife Jennifer McPherson — who he killed in 2013 — might still be alive.
Family members described Letandre as quiet, gentle and loving.
“Coming here today, hearing all the things done to her, it’s unbearable,” said cousin Patty Sinclair. “We have to forgive this beast who took her away from us … The only consolation is one day he will stand before God and have our sister’s blood on his hands.”
It would be more than six years before police questioned Andretti in the killing. Andretti was living in British Columbia in May 2013 when he admitted to killing McPherson.
Andretti and McPherson had been working together on Hanson Island when he killed and dismembered her. Andretti told police he tied McPherson to a tree before strangling her and burning her body. Andretti said he recorded the killing and placed some of McPherson’s body parts in lobster traps.
Andretti also admitted to “doing something similar” to Letandre years earlier, Crown attorney Sheila Leinburd told court.
“When he tires of his girlfriend or his wife, rather than leave the situation, he kills them,” Leinburd said.
A psychiatric report concluded Andretti did not suffer from a mental illness and is criminally responsible for his actions.
Andretti was not represented by a lawyer and made little in the way of submissions to the court, except to say he deserved to be sentenced to life in prison.
Andretti’s sentence will run concurrent to the life sentence he is already serving for killing McPherson.
Thought he was doing victim a favour?
Prodded by a judge, Traigo Andretti provided a court with a brief look inside the mind of a dangerous — and in his own words “evil” — killer. “It was happy,” Andretti said of his relationship with Myrna Letandre, the woman he would kill just weeks after meeting her. “We had fun just walking around town … She was real patient and gentle.”
Andretti initially offered no explanation for killing Letandre, then blamed his actions on his use of antidepressants. “I didn’t recognize … the effect of taking a high dosage and then not taking it,” he said.
Andretti said he convinced himself he was easing Letandre’s pain by killing her. Court heard she walked with the aid of leg braces after a failed suicide attempt.
“I tried to justify to myself after the fact she was in pain, but I’m not sure there was anything more than evil involved,” he said. “I thought I loved her, and the day before I had no idea it was going to happen.”
Andretti told court he grew up in Fergus, Ont., and had a happy childhood with friends. Asked if he was a “loner,” Andretti said “I’m not sure.”
Andretti said he was working as a bike courier years ago when he was hit by a truck and suffered a head injury. He spent just a few hours in hospital. Justice Chris Martin asked Andretti “Do you think you changed as a result or are you the same person?”
“I can’t say,” Andretti replied.
Andretti said he fantasized about killing his wife Jennifer McPherson for five years. He said he stopped taking antidepressants three weeks earlier “in the hopes that I would follow through with killing her.”
First win for missing-murdered task force
Winnipeg police touted a life sentence given to a two-time killer as a win for its missing-and-murdered task force, and hoped it would provide comfort to the family of one of the victims.
Andretti was arrested last year as part of Project Devote, a joint task force between the WPS and RCMP launched in 2012 to work cases of missing and murdered exploited persons.
Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said he’s optimistic more arrests in other cases will follow.
“Investigators have been, and continue to sift through thousands of pieces of information that comes through tips from the public,” Michalyshen said.
“… We are very hopeful and optimistic that we’re going to be in this position again and again, where we will be sharing good news for families with respect to outcomes. We’re working very hard behind the scenes, I assure you.”
Andretti’s arrest was the first for Project Devote, which is tasked with 28 missing-and-murdered cases.
Michalyshen said he hopes Tuesday’s news provides some comfort to Letandre’s loved ones.
“I acknowledge that there is a frustration and I think frustration is even a mild word,” Michalyshen said. “There’s nothing that I can say today that is necessarily going to make the family feel better. We hope that there is some level of comfort … to the Letandre family. We are committed to all outstanding investigations. We were committed to this investigation from the day she was reported missing to here we stand (today).”
— David Larkins