Camrose man guilty of murder in death of woman at south Edmonton motel

·2 min read
Police at the Royal Lodge motel in south Edmonton in May 2020 after a body was found in one of the rooms.  (Dave Bajer/CBC News - image credit)
Police at the Royal Lodge motel in south Edmonton in May 2020 after a body was found in one of the rooms. (Dave Bajer/CBC News - image credit)

A Camrose, Alta., man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of a woman in a south Edmonton motel room more than two years ago.

Ian Stewart Gainer was originally charged with first-degree murder in the May 24, 2020 death of Lisa Arsenault, but on Friday morning in Edmonton Court of King's Bench, he admitted to the lesser and included offence.

Court of King's Bench Justice Susan Richardson accepted Gainer's guilty plea. A sentencing date will be set in two weeks. Gainer remains in custody.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Gainer had been keeping a close watch on the Royal Lodge Motel at 3815 Gateway Blvd. for several days before the killing.

He told police he had seen evidence of a large-scale cocaine trafficking operation being run out of the motel.

"He believed Ms. Arsenault was involved in cocaine trafficking and as a result she would have a lot of money on hand, which he intended to take from her by force," the document states, recounting statements made by Gainer to Edmonton police after he was arrested.

Gainer told police that nothing in particular made him choose Arsenault as a victim.

Two weeks earlier, he had used a hammer to smash the surveillance camera outside Arsenault's room, but the camera was repaired before Gainer attacked Arsenault.

Edmonton Police Service
Edmonton Police Service

On the Sunday that Arsenault was murdered, Gainer spied on the motel for a few hours before he spotted the 48-year-old go into her suite shortly before 2 p.m.

A few minutes later, Gainer entered the same suite, armed with a knife, duct tape and rope. He told police that the items were meant to "confine, intimidate and silence" Arsenault.

Surveillance video revealed that Gainer spent 14 minutes inside Arsenault's motel room.

Gainer admitted to police he got "rough" with Arsenault but said he didn't steal any money from her. A police search later revealed that Arsenault had about $1,700 in bills and coins scattered throughout her suite.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Gainer put duct tape over Arsenault's mouth and nose, then wrapped a pair of leggings around her head and face, followed by another layer of duct tape.

Gainer also tied a noose around his victim's neck and attached the rope with a knot around her ankle.

According to the autopsy report, Arsenault was "simultaneously suffocated and strangled to death."

Six hours after Gainer left Arsenault's suite, a motel worker discovered the body and contacted police. Edmonton police released surveillance video of their suspect to the media along with a composite sketch.

Gainer was arrested in August 2020 after his parents recognized their son from the surveillance video and contacted police.