© Metro Halifax FILE photo
Dustan Joseph Preeper, 24, of Halifax is escorted into Truro provincial court in 2012.
A family has answers and a crime has been solved thanks to information received by Nova Scotia's Reward for Major Unsolved Crime Program.
This week, the program paid its first reward of $150,000, the maximum under the program.
In July 2012, a tip received through the program helped the RCMP arrest and charge two men in the 2011 disappearance of Melissa Dawn Peacock. On July 16, 2014, Dustan Joseph Preeper and Joshua Michael Preeper were convicted of murder.
"I truly hope this conviction gives Ms. Peacock's family and loved ones some closure," said Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab in a press release. "This conviction would not have been possible without the public's help. We still have more than 70 unsolved crimes in the program and I hope the payout of an award will encourage others to come forward.”
The case was added to the Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program in May 2012. The information was received on the program's toll-free telephone line that same month. The program also received important information about the homicide of Ben Hare, a case that was not included in the rewards program.
"The caller to the rewards program was crucial in solving both the Melissa Peacock and Ben Hare homicides," said Insp. Larry Wilson, officer-in-charge of the provincial Major Crimes Unit for the RCMP in Nova Scotia. "The information provided was the turning point in the investigation that led to a successful conclusion in these matters.
“The value of the rewards program cannot be understated. By providing an incentive for individuals who may have vital information, police can potentially identify those responsible for a crime and bring closure to the families of the victims.”
Information provided through the program must lead to an arrest and a conviction before a reward can be issued. A reward of up to $150,000 will be issued from the Department of Justice to the person who provided the information. The amount of the award is determined by the importance of the information received.
Most recently, the program led to an arrest in the Kevin Bowser homicide.
In August 2013, the program helped Halifax Police and RCMP in an arrest in the homicide of Ryan White.
In October 2013, the program also helped RCMP in an arrest in the homicide of Narico Danfue Downey.
Those who come forward must provide their name and contact information. They may be called to testify in court. All calls will be recorded.
Anyone with information should call the Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program at 1-888-710-9090. For more information about this case and others, visit www.gov.ns.ca/just.