Kurt Churchill arrested in Craigmillar Avenue homicide

·2 min read
Kurt Churchill is pictured at a sentencing hearing last year. He is now facing murder and firearms charges related to the death of James Cody. (Bruce Tilley/CBC - image credit)
Kurt Churchill is pictured at a sentencing hearing last year. He is now facing murder and firearms charges related to the death of James Cody. (Bruce Tilley/CBC - image credit)

Kurt Churchill has been arrested in connection with the homicide of James Cody.

Churchill, 44, was arrested Tuesday evening in Toronto and is being transported back to Newfoundland and Labrador, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Cody was found dead of a gunshot wound on the pavement on Craigmillar Avenue, a normally quiet street in the west end of St. John's, in the early morning hours of July 5, 2020.

Footage obtained by CBC News from a nearby street captured the audio of five gunshots at 4:09 a.m. NT.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary say Churchill will appear in provincial court on the following charges:

  • Murder.

  • Using a firearm in the commission of an offence.

  • Careless use of a firearm.

  • Possession of an unauthorized firearm.

  • Possession of a prohibited firearm.

  • Tampering with the serial number of a firearm.

Three days after Cody's murder, according to police court filings, investigators seized a KelTec P-11 9mm Luger handgun on a property behind 40 Craigmillar Ave.

That address was the subject of intense police interest related to the Cody homicide probe. The RNC called its investigation "extensive and complex," involving interviews with more than 60 people, according to Insp. Colin McNeil.

It included multiple forensic exhibits, warrants, and over 200 "investigative tasks," McNeil told reporters.

Paul Daly for CBC
Paul Daly for CBC

According to court filings obtained by CBC News, when police searched 40 Craigmillar Ave. as part of the investigation, they found more than $434,000 in cash. In addition to the cash, police also seized a money counter, vacuum sealer, cling wrap and 10 boxes of Seal-a-Meal storage bags.

Soon after, the RCMP launched a money-laundering and proceeds of crime investigation focused on the owner of the house, Kurt Churchill, according to court documents previously reported on by CBC.

In a court affidavit at the time, the Mounties linked the money laundering investigation to Churchill's "drug trafficking activities."

Those court filings linked the "drug trafficking" reference to Operation Battalion, which saw Churchill arrested and charged in 2014 for his alleged role in a high-level cocaine operation.

In 2017, Churchill was acquitted of all charges after his lawyer filed an application over unfair trial delays. The Crown called no evidence.

Churchill has no criminal record. He was found guilty in the fall of 2020 of threatening a police officer a year earlier, but received a conditional discharge.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

McNeil said Cody and Churchill were known to each other but couldn't say whether Cody was targeted.

McNeil said he sympathized with residents of the Craigmillar Avenue neighbourhood.

"I want to assure the public that at any time, if public safety was compromised, the RNC would act," he said. "I hope it brings the people of Craigmillar Avenue … some ease, now that this person is in custody."

Police said they're still welcoming witness reports related to the night of Cody's death.

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