Man charged with murder in death of Alberta woman whose body was found along remote B.C. highway

·3 min read
Brenda Ware, 35, was found dead in Kootenay National Park along Highway 93 on Thursday.  (B.C. RCMP - image credit)
Brenda Ware, 35, was found dead in Kootenay National Park along Highway 93 on Thursday. (B.C. RCMP - image credit)

A man has been charged with murder in relation to the death of an Alberta woman whose body was found along a remote B.C. highway in a national park last Thursday.

Philip Toner faces a charge of second-degree murder, RCMP announced Wednesday, after the body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 northeast of Radium, B.C.

Toner, 41, was remanded back to Alberta after an appearance in court in Kelowna, B.C., on Wednesday morning. Prosecutors had applied to have Toner sent to Alberta as investigators allege Ware was killed in that province.

Toner was arrested Tuesday after being identified as a person of interest in Ware's death. Police have said Toner and Ware were known to each other, but have not released information about the nature of their relationship.

Philip Toner is pictured in an RCMP handout photo. Police released Toner's photo in relation to their investigation into the death of Brenda Ware, 35, asking anyone who had contact with Toner to contact investigators.
Philip Toner is pictured in an RCMP handout photo. Police released Toner's photo in relation to their investigation into the death of Brenda Ware, 35, asking anyone who had contact with Toner to contact investigators.(B.C. RCMP)

Ware lived on a farm near Cremona, Alta. and worked as a hair stylist in nearby Sundre. RCMP initially said she had been travelling from Didsbury, a small town north of Calgary, through Kootenay National Park.

Memorial to show support

Christie Richard said she first met Ware almost 16 years ago and they worked together at the same salon for nearly a decade.

"She always had a cute little smile for everybody and she just was a great all-round person," Richard said. "One thing I have to say about her is that [her] work ethic was beyond anything I've ever seen. Her clients meant the world to her and she would have done anything for them."

Richard said she lost touch with Ware for a few years, but they reconnected last week when she got an unexpected call from Ware, who needed some supplies for her salon.

"We had the most amazing chat. I just firmly believe somebody sent her to me to do that. So I'm thankful for that."

Richard said she's planned a memorial for Sunday, May 16 to show support for Ware and her family.

"I just really felt it was important that there was a place to go that we could show our support and maybe have a little bit of closure," Richard said "So I've set up a gazebo in Sundre ... in a campground area just in town."

People are encouraged to drop by with flowers, a card or candle between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Seeking more information

RCMP re-released a photo of Toner on Wednesday, asking anyone who had contact with him between May 4 and 11 to call police.

"Although a charge has now been laid in relation to this complex, inter-provincial criminal investigation, the investigation is still very much active and ongoing at this time, [and] we continue to share Toner's photo in an effort to advance the investigation," said Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon, acting officer-on-charge of the B.C. RCMP's Major Crime Section.

Investigators have asked anyone who saw Ware or her vehicle between May 4 and 6 to contact them at 1-877-987-8477.

Ware is described as being five feet one inch, weighing 108 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. She was driving a red 2019 Jeep Cherokee with Alberta licence plate YPC 553.

Police are also looking to speak with anybody who may have encountered hitchhikers in the area or who has dashcam video from Kootenay National Park between May 5 and 6.