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Body of 70-year-old Edmonton man found in building wreckage, 3 months after fire

An Edmonton man is facing new charges in connection to an apartment fire, after the body of a missing 70-year-old man was found in the building’s wreckage months after the blaze. 

Edmonton Police Service announced Friday afternoon that Jason Zabos, 44, was arrested in relation a the homicide stemming from a fire at an apartment building in the area of 107th Street and 79th Avenue that happened in late January.

EPS said Friday that the remains of Ricardo Olivares were located at the site of the fire on April 22, after his family reported him missing.

Zabos was already facing charges related to the fire, including arson disregard for human life, obstructing peace officer and breaching a court order. Police said Friday that a manslaughter charge and second charge of arson disregard for human life are pending.

EPS say that officers were dispatched to the building around 5 p.m. on Jan 25, to help another agency carry out a court order against Zabos who barricaded himself inside one of the units, police said.

Negotiations continued until shortly before 1 a.m., when a fire started inside Zabo’s suite, police said.

The building was evacuated and Zabos was taken into custody. 

Several evacuees were taken to the hospital, and have since recovered from their physical injuries, according to a news release from EPS on Friday.

Firefighters gather outside a burnt apartment building's balcony.
Firefighters were called in at 12:46 a.m. Jan 26, to a structure fire on 107th Street and 79th Avenue in south Edmonton. (Dave Bajer/CBC)

EPS received a missing person report about Olivares from his family on April 10. 

The family reported that they had not heard from the senior since Jan. 5 and reported him missing after learning of the  fire that burned down the apartment building where Olivares lived. 

The EPS Missing Persons Unit, with the assistance of its canine unit and  Edmonton Fire Rescue Services conducted a further search of the building wreckage and discovered Olivares’ remains on April 22. 

Edmonton’s medical examiner completed an autopsy on April 24 which found Olivares had died from smoke inhalation with the manner of death being a homicide.  

On Friday, Zabos was arrested during a scheduled court appearance.

The Director of Law Enforcement determined that the incident remains outside the scope of an Alberta Serious Incident Response Team review. 

CBC has requested further information from EPS.

More to come

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