Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Rodney Nichols will have to appear before a judge upon his return to Canada.

An octogenarian returns to face justice 48 years later ;s the murder of his partner

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Rodney Nichols will have to appear before a judge upon his return to Canada.

  • Daniel Leblanc (View profile)Daniel Leblanc
  • Denis Babin

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Ontario police officers traveled to Florida on Friday to repatriate a former Montreal resident who is accused of the 1975 murder of his partner, who was then abandoned in the Nation River in eastern Ontario.

Rodney Nichols, now 81, is expected to appear soon by video conference at the L'Orignal courthouse in eastern Ontario, 60 kilometers from where Jewell Parchman Langford's body was found 48 years ago.

This will be his first appearance in Canada in this case, having had to be extradited from the United States to return to country stand trial. He had lived for years in a retirement home in Hollywood, Florida.

Rodney Nichols, who has limited mobility and suffers from dementia, is put on board an air ambulance en route to Ottawa. His flight took off from Fort Lauderdale early Friday afternoon.

The murder of Jewell Parchman Langford is one of the oldest major unsolved crimes in Canada.

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Jewell Parchman Langford, center, appears in a clipping of press among other members of the American Business Women's Association. His body was found in the Nation River in 1975.

One ​​of his nieces who lives in the United States expressed relief upon learning that Rodney Nichols will face justice despite his health problems.

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J I was afraid he might use his situation to avoid being held responsible. I believe he knew what he was doing in 1975 if he is indeed found guilty. So it is very important for our family that this case can be concluded, that there can be a trial.

A quote from Denise Chung, niece of Jewell Parchman Langford

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) made significant progress in this case in 2020 by identifying the woman who was then known by the nickname Lady of the Nation River. It was in this watercourse in Casselman, on Highway 417 between Ottawa and Montreal, that his body was found.

Jewell Parchman Langford's identity was established through genetic genealogy, which traced family members to Tennessee.

This woman had left the United States in the mid-1970s to live in Montreal with Rodney Nichols, who was then a rugby player on the Westmount team.

This discovery led the OPP to work with the Montreal police on the case, given that the family of Jewell Parchman Langford had reported his disappearance there in 1975. At the time, however, the police did not do the link between the disappearance reported in Montreal and the discovery of the body in Ontario, approximately 150 kilometers to the west.

According to documents filed in court in connection with the extradition request, Rodney Nichols allegedly confessed to committing the murder of Jewell Parchman Langford last year, during an interview at his home with OPP investigators.

He reportedly said it was time to confess after keeping this secret for decades.

According to these documents, the defendant in this story killed Jewell Parchman Langford after realizing that she had lied to him about her age.

At the time of her death, the Tennessee woman was 48 years old and Rodney Nichols was 32.

Rodney Nichols' attorney challenged the validity of the OPP's actions during the extradition request, noting among other things the fact that his client suffers from advanced dementia. In this context, lawyer Michael Caruso asserted that his client's alleged confession was obtained without taking into account his mental state.

There are serious doubts about whether he is actually aware of what is happening on a day-to-day basis, Michael Caruso says in a court filing in Florida .

Rodney Nichols agreed to provide a DNA sample to the OPP last year. This sample was later linked to a trace of blood found on a piece of cloth tied around Jewell Parchman Langford's head when his body was discovered.

< source srcset="https://images.radio-canada.ca/q_auto,w_1200/v1/ici-info/16x9/jewell-langford-meurtre-87345.jpg" media="(min-width: 1024px)"> Open in full screen mode

The photo of Jewell Langford and his clay bust created in 2017 by the Ontario Provincial Police to identify him.

In addition, investigators believe that Rodney Nichols knowingly lied to Montreal police officers during an interview on June 7, 1975, in order to cover up his role in the disappearance of his partner.

At that time, he said he had just spoken to her and that she was in Vancouver. In fact, the latter's body had been found about a month earlier face first in the Nation River near Casselman, between Montreal and Ottawa. Police then found traces of blood on the bridge spanning the river on Highway 417.

According to affidavits submitted to American authorities, Rodney Nichols and Jewell Parchman Langford met in Florida in January 1975.

The latter would have divorced her husband in Tennessee, a few weeks later, and would have traveled a few times to Montreal, where Rodney Nichols, a star player of the Westmount rugby team, lived.

The two bought a house in Montreal and moved in together on April 18, 1975.

Jewell Langford doesn't did not give any news to his relatives from April 22 and his body was found in the Nation River on May 3 of this year. According to the coroner's findings, Jewell Parchman Langford died of strangulation. His body was tied up when he was discovered.

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