Police vehicles are shown at the Calgary Police Service headquarters in Calgary on Thursday, April 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Police charge man in southern Alberta with kidnapping, sexual assaults

Police investigators who brought in forensic teams and a cadaver dog to search a rural property east of Calgary have charged a man accused of targeting women in the city’s sex trade.

Police say officers cordoned off the acreage looking for evidence after at least three sex workers were drugged and physically and sexually assaulted.

Supt. Cliff O’Brien says the search included the use of cadaver dogs, but no bodies have been found.

“When we go into a situation like that and with these types of allegations, it’s important that we’re thorough,” O’Brien said at a news conference Monday.

“It was a multi-day search, and obviously we had multiple search-trained police officers. We had forensics through there … there was a lot of resources.”

O’Brien said police began the investigation in March after hearing from workers in the sex trade. The alleged offences happened between December 2021 and last month.

“Women were believed to have been approached by a man in the Forest Lawn area, where the women were allegedly drugged, taken to a rural property east of the city, where they were physically and sexually assaulted.”

O’Brien said the suspect was living in an outbuilding that he rented from the property’s owners.

Richard Robert Mantha, 59, of Rocky View County, faces 13 charges including kidnapping, forcible confinement, administering a noxious substance, sexual assault with a weapon and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

He was also wanted on three outstanding warrants from outside of Calgary for sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm and failing to attend court.

Mantha is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

O’Brien said the investigation remains open and officers are also looking into the suspect’s possible connection to some missing persons cases.

“We’re always looking at our missing persons cases and so right now we’re not ruling anything out,” he said.

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