Edmonton man pleads guilty in gruesome murder case

Red fluid is dried to the door of a suite as police investigate a woman's murder in Edmonton.



EDMONTON -- A man admitted in court Tuesday to fatally stabbing a female friend in the neck and dismembering her body in the bathtub.

Joshua James Houle, 28, pleaded guilty in Court of Queen's Bench to a reduced charge of manslaughter and offering an indignity to human remains in relation to the Dec. 31, 2011, slaying of 27-year-old Misty Lynn Ward.

Crown prosecutor Rob Beck called it a "tragic and senseless situation" and "a case of extreme recklessness."

Beck told court that Houle and Ward were friends who had known each other for years and there had been no reason for her to fear for her safety with him.

"What occurred was she had no chance to defend herself. It came on without warning," said Beck. "She was simply trying to wake him up."

According to agreed facts, the pair met up and took a taxi to Houle's apartment.

The two drank and possibly used drugs and then had sex. Ward fell asleep on the bed while Houle stayed up and drank beer and he later went out to buy more booze.

Court heard Houle had earlier warned Ward that he had a history of waking up violently if he was startled awake.

Houle eventually fell asleep on the living room sofa and, some time later, Ward got up and then tried to wake him.

Houle reacted violently to her attempt to awaken him and he quickly jumped up, grabbed a serrated steak knife and plunged it into the left side of her neck.

The panicked Houle tried to help Ward by wrapping a towel around her neck and applying pressure, but it did not stop the bleeding, so he put her in the bathtub. He then got the same steak knife and cut off her left leg at the knee. After placing it by the front door, he began cutting off her other leg. But, he began to feel sick and went to lie down on his bed and then passed out.

Police were called after the building manager noticed bloody water leaking into a storage room on the floor below. They found Ward submerged in the tub and Houle passed out on the bed.

When officers woke Houle up, he reacted violently.

The judge is slated to impose sentence on Jan. 29.

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